Today we are about to visit a very special fountain… it is located at Martel, a hamlet of Angrogna village.
The fountain you see in the picture has always gushed fresh and clear water. Even in periods of hard drought, like it happened – for example – in mid-nineteenth century, this fountain still was a rich and abundant source that could quench the thirst of the inhabitants of all the neighboring villages.
Do you have any idea of how important all of these springs were, when people did not have water in their homes, like we are used to today?
…but this fountain has a peculiar history. It is located on a plot that once belonged to Colonel John Charles Beckwith.
We already know that Colonel Beckwith founded primary schools throughout the whole valley, but many other works were achieved thanks to him.
He was born in Canada in 1789 by an English family and at the age of 14 he joined the army; in 1815 he lost a leg on the battle field because of a cannonball. A few years later, in 1827, while reading a book he learned about Waldensians and he decided to move to Italy to increase his knowledge about them.
When he arrived in Piedmont what he saw was a landscape made of small hamlets perched on mountain slopes, consisting of dark huts, dirty stables, with many malnourished children scampering in the streets with no shoes on.
Colonel Beckwith financed the building of the little schools, he brought educational material from England and he established two comprehensive schools.
He contributed to the building of the Waldensian College high school and of a Hospital in Torre Pellice.
He paid postgraduate studies in Switzerland to the ones who wished to become teachers.
He cared also about the construction of few Waldensians temples.
It is said that the wooden-legged Colonel used to get to all of the construction sites hardly limping, but always impeccably dressed in his silk scarf and military decorations.
Colonel Beckwith’s properties were inherited by his daughter Charlotte, who decided to donate the fountain at Martel to the inhabitants of that region, so that they could freely use it.
The small building you can see was made by residents in 1929, in memory of Charlotte Beckwith two years after her death, and the following passage from the Bible is written on it: “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)
How to get here:
from Provincial Road 161, between Torre Pellice and Luserna San Giovanni, at the roundabout take the road to Angrogna and follow the main road up to the branch locations in Bruere. Turn right and after 2 km you will arrive in the village of Martel. As soon as you reach the hamlet, you can see on the right the signs for the fountain that indicate the path in the woods.
Do you want to read the tale in Italian ?