Black Mary’s Hole, a well famed for its healing iron-rich chalybeate waters, lay close to or under the Holidays Inn on the Kings Cross Road.
Formerly set within landscape of fields and springs where the house of Nell Gwynne shared the valley of the Fleet River with shepherds, glue makers, sex-workers and wandering antiquarians.
The yard of the hotel straddles the course of the lost Fleet River itself, long-since culverted, along with Black Mary’s spring waters, down into Clerkenwell’s sewers.
But the alder trees still try to push their roots into the muds of the stream bank and cracks in the tarmac hint at movements in the river clays and gravels, less than dormant, just underneath it’s tarry skin.
The river-bed deposits of the Fleet continue to flow, long after its waters have passed from living memory.