Qui non dat quod Habet, Doemon Infra Ridet. Anno 1414.
("He who here does nought bestow, The Devil laughs at him below. The year 1414")
The text quoted above is engraved upon an ancient well, not in a work of M. R. James' eerie fiction, but which stands incongruously on the corner of today's Mill Lane and North Drive in Wavertree. Adjacent to the well is Picton Playground, the former site of Wavertree Lake into which surplus water from the well (or, more accurately, spring) was channelled via a subterranean tunnel.
Baines's Lancashire Directory of 1825 describes the monument as "a well at which charitable contributions were anciently collected", thus implying that the inscription would have been intended as a (rather sinister) reminder for the thirsty traveller to leave some payment for the water they took. But payment to whom? Moss's Liverpool Guide of 1796 states "an old monastic looking house" nearby was once "inhabited by some religious order, who might thus request alms towards their support". Thus the well is known to this day as The Monk's Well.
According to Mike Chitty's Discovering Historic Wavertree (1999):
"Legends about the Monks Well abound, and most of the stories involve secret passageways: leading either to Childwall 'Abbey' (which never was an abbey) or Childwall Priory (which was a farmhouse near the present Fiveways junction) or the Bishop Eton Monastery (which was only established in the 1840s) or even the Rose Brewery in Picton Road! It seems likely that such legends were sparked off by Victorian children, who spotted the inlet tunnel already referred to, and the outlet pipe which would have channelled the surplus water into Wavertree Lake"
The original sandstone cross which had topped the well was already lost when the Baines's entry was made in 1895 but was restored sometime soon after. The cross bears the inscription Deus dedit, homo bibit ("God gives and man drinks").
The Monk's Well was one of the first historic monuments in Liverpool to be formerly protected by being "Listed" 1952.