St Leonard of Noblac was a very popular saint in England and Europe in the11th century. He died c.559 AD and was the Patron Saint of Justice and all those suffering confinement such as prisoners, the mentally ill and pregnant women. French legends state St Leonard, who lived as a hermit in the forest of Limousin in France, was going to the Yule (Ewell) celebrations, and met a beggar who asked for wine. St Leonard had wine and gave him some, but then had no gift. The beggar told him to fill his flask from the spring and the water was turned to wine. St Leonard also saved the life of the French King’s wife in childbirth and the King gave him woodland where he built an oratory and lived with two monks. Water in the French story was 1000 yards away at an Abbey dedicated to St Mary. The legend states St Leonard dug a great pit and filled it with his tears. He divided the King’s woodland and supported the needy. St Leonard’s Day was a compulsory public holiday in Worcestershire in the 13th century.
Now look at West Malling. The Ewell Spring here in West Malling rises below St Leonards Tower. The Abbey here is also dedicated to St Mary and is 1000 yards away from the tower. The lake is clearly excavated. Perhaps the whole complex in West Malling was modelled on the Norman French Legend? The story match is remarkable.