THE SILENT POOL IS A spring-fed lake at the foot of Surrey’s North Downs. Its peaceful and kaleidoscopic waters has attracted visitors for centuries.
The silent pool is known for its otherworldly stillness which, combined with the surrounding screen of evergreen trees, gives it an ethereal feeling throughout the year. It’s no surprise that this ancient lagoon has given rise to fantastical legends.
It’s said that during the early 13th-century, a local girl would often bath in the pool while her father, a woodcutter, worked. This was during the infamous reign of King John. One day, the cruel king visited the pool with deviant hopes of spying on the maid. The girl, bathing in the secluded lake, was naked when the king and his party arrived at the shore.
In an attempt to preserve her modesty, the girl moved deeper into the pool. The king followed, riding his horse into the water after the girl. This act forced her to flee into such deep water that she drowned
The woodcutter came back to find no trace of her or the tragic events that occurred. All that was left was a lone feather that had fallen from the royal cap, implicating the king.
Legend has it that those who visit the silent pool on a moonlit night will see the maiden’s white form bathing in the calm waters. Some say you can even hear her screams.
Though this tale is little more than local legend, with no supporting records of the event, it’s reflective of John’s recorded disdain for his subjects. The king’s behavior and treatment of the public led to the creation of the Magna Carta in 1215. The document ensured that no one is above the law, not even the king.
The Silent Pool was embroiled in a double dose of mystery in 1926 when famed crime and detective writer Agatha Christie went missing. It was initially thought that she drowned in Silent Pool as her car was found nearby. It wasn’t until nearly two weeks later that this fear was quelled when Christie was found at a hotel in Harrogate, suffering from amnesia and using a false identity.
Returning to spirits, the pool’s crystalline water is now used as part of the local Silent Pool Distillery’s signature gin.ATLAS OBSCURA EXPERIENCESTalliston House & Gardens: Step Inside Britain’s Most Extraordinary HomeGreat Dunmow, England$12 per personLAKESLEGENDSHISTORY & CULTURENATURE