"The Calybeate Spring Tunbridge Wells"

Chalybeate waters, also known as ferruginous waters, are mineral spring waters containing salts of iron.



The word "chalybeate" is derived from the Latin word for steel, "chalybs", which follows from the Greek word "khalups". Khalups is the singular form of Khalubes or Chalybes, who were mythical people living on Mount Ida in north Asia Minor who had invented iron working.

Ferruginous comes from the Latin word "ferreus" meaning "made of iron," which is derived from the Latin word "ferrum" which means "iron."


Early in the 17th century, chalybeate water was said to have health-giving properties and many people have promoted its qualities. Dudley North, 3rd Baron North discovered the chalybeate spring at Tunbridge Wells in 1606. Dudley North’s physician claimed that the waters contained ‘vitriol’ and the waters of Tunbridge Wells could cure:

the colic, the melancholy, and the vapours; it made the lean fat, the fat lean; it killed flat worms in the belly, loosened the clammy humours of the body, and dried the over-moist brain.

He also apparently said, in verse:

"These waters youth in age renew
Strength to the weak and sickly add
Give the pale cheek a rosy hue
And cheerful spirits to the sad."

The English physician Thomas Sydenham prescribed chalybeate waters for hysteria[citation needed].

The Recoaro Spa is on the outskirts of Vicenza, Italy. In 1689, a spring of ferruginous water rich in gas and tasting pleasantly was discovered by Count Lelio Piovene of Vicenza. Local residents called the water from this spring "Saint Anthony's miraculous water" because they claimed it had therapeutic properties.

Dr. Anthony Relhan (ca. 1715-1776), promoted the drinking of mineral waters and particularly water from the chalybeate spring in St Anne's Well Gardens, and published A Short History of Brighthelmstone; with Remarks on its Air, an Analysis of its Waters, Particularly of an uncommon Mineral one, long discovered, though but lately used in 1761.[1] This led to a substantial increase in public interest in drinking mineral water. The town of Enfield, New Hampshire, even changed its name temporarily to Relhan because of the profound public interest in this form of therapy.[2][not in citation given]

Princess Victoria, later Queen Victoria, drank the waters every day during her stay in Tunbridge Wells in 1834. She and her mother, the Duchess of Kent, would pay a visit to the spring and then enjoy a stroll along the Pantiles. The water contains a significant level of dissolved mineral salts, with iron and manganese contributing to its characteristic flavour.

Content of the chalybeate waters from Tunbridge Wells

An analysis in 1967 showed it to contain (parts per million):

Notable chalybeate springs

Chalybeate springs are found in:

This rather ornate spring well is in the village of Quarndon. A plaque inside the well has the following description "17th century chalybeate spring well. Once famous spa noted for medicinal waters containing iron. Visited by Daniel Defoe in 1727".
  • Toplitz
United States

Places named for chalybeate springs

Several places throughout the world have taken their name from similar springs, including:


  1. ^ Relhan's predecessor, the eminent physician Dr. Richard Russell, an eminent physician, and resident of Lewes and Brighton (which are close to the chalybeate spring of Hove) had advocated drinking seawater.
  2. ^ The Papers on The History of the Town of Enfield and New Hampshire in the Dartmouth College Library, collected by Nellie Pierce, 1988
  3. ^ Malden, H.E., ed (1912). A History of the County of Surrey, Volume 4. Victoria County History. Archibald Constable & Co. pp. 17–24. 
  4. ^ Elrington (Editor), C.R.; Baker, T.F.T.; Bolton, Diane K; Croot, Patricia E.C. (1989). Kilburn, Edgware Road and Cricklewood. Victoria County History. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  5. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica 1911

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  • Chalybeate — ist der Name mehrerer Orte in den Vereinigten Staaten: Chalybeate (Kentucky) Chalybeate (Mississippi) Chalybeate (Pennsylvania) Chalybeate (Tennessee) Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung zur Unterscheidung mehrerer mit demselben Wort bezeichnet …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Chalybeate — Cha*lyb e*ate, a. [NL. chalybeatus, fr. chalube[ i]us. See {Chalubean}.] Impregnated with salts of iron; having a taste like iron; as, chalybeate springs. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • chalybeate — [kə lib′ē ət, kə lib′ēāt΄] adj. [ModL chalybeatus < L chalybs < Gr chalyps, steel (after Chalybes, name of a people in Pontus noted for their steel) + ATE1] 1. containing salts of iron 2. tasting like iron n. a chalybeate liquid or medicine …   English World dictionary

  • Chalybeate — Cha*lyb e*ate, n. Any water, liquid, or medicine, into which iron enters as an ingredient. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • chalybeate — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ denoting natural mineral springs containing iron salts. ORIGIN Latin chalybeatus, from Greek khalups steel …   English terms dictionary

  • chalybeate — Obsolete term for impregnated with or containing iron salts and for a therapeutic agent containing iron. [G. chalyps (chalyb ), steel] * * * cha·ly·be·ate kə lib ē ət, lē bē adj impregnated with salts of iron also having a taste due to iron… …   Medical dictionary

  • chalybeate — I. adjective Etymology: probably from New Latin chalybeatus, irregular from Latin chalybs steel, from Greek chalyb , chalyps, from Chalybes, ancient people in Asia Minor Date: 1634 impregnated with salts of iron; also having a taste due to iron < …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • chalybeate — /keuh lib ee it, ayt /, adj. 1. containing or impregnated with salts of iron, as a mineral spring or medicine. n. 2. a chalybeate water, medicine, or the like. [1625 35; < NL chalybeatus, L chalybe(ïus) of steel ( < Gk chalybeís, equiv. to… …   Universalium

  • chalybeate — cha•lyb•e•ate [[t]kəˈlɪb i ɪt, ˌeɪt[/t]] adj. 1) chem. containing or impregnated with salts of iron, as a mineral spring or medicine 2) chem. a chalybeate water, medicine, or the like • Etymology: 1625–35; < NL chalybēātus < L chalybē(ïus)… …   From formal English to slang

  • chalybeate — /kəˈlɪbiət/ (say kuh libeeuht), / eɪt/ (say ayt) adjective 1. containing or impregnated with salts of iron, as a mineral spring, medicine, etc. –noun 2. a chalybeate water, medicine, or the like. {apparently from New Latin chalybēātus, from Latin …   Australian English dictionary