A comprehensive survey of these Welsh wells was undertaken by Francis Jones, who, in 1950, published his findings in a book entitled ‘The Holy Wells of Wales’. He identified a total of 1,179 wells and found that 437 of them were named after Celtic saints and 369 were said to possess special healing powers.
Website: St Winefride’s Well and Chapel
Phone: 01352 713 054
According to the legend, St Winifred’s Well erupted at the spot where her would be rapist Caradoc cut off her head with his sword. But restored to life at the prayers of her uncle St Beuno, she lived as a nun until her second death 22 years later.
St Beuno built the first church at Holywell on the site of the present Gothic chapel and probably used the well as a baptistry.
The statue of the saint was placed in a niche above the well in 1888. It shows her as a abbeys carrying a crook and thin line around her neck has been included by the sculptor to show where her head was once severed by Caradoc.
It is said that St Beuno put a curse on Caradoc’s descendants that caused them to bark like dogs and the only cure was immersion in the holy well.
A stone by the steps in the outside bath is called St Beuno’s Stone and apparently this where he sat when instructing his niece Winefride. Before leaving the well she prayed that anyone who came there and made any request is her name would receive an answer ‘at least the third time’. So it became the custom for pilgrims to go through the inner well three times when bathing.
They would then kneel on St Beuno’s Stone to say their prayers. A chapel was built over the well in 1490 by lady Margaret Beaufort, the mother of henry VII. It is one of the finest examples of Tudor architecture in Wales and has been listed as one of the ‘Seven Wonders of Wales’.
However whatever the truth is behind the legend, Winefride was a real person and a striking personality in the 7th Century which saw her become venerated as a saint and her well at Holywell a site of pilgrimage for centuries after.
Traditionally we finish our weekend walk in some nice place with tasty food, and this time proper Italian pizza was in our mind.
From pasta to pizza via mozzarella, prosciutto and tiramisu, it’s hard to beat family-run traditional Italian restaurant Mamma Rosa when it comes to good food, wine and hospitality.
Food was fantastic, the staff were friendly and provided a good service. The restaurant had a good atmosphere and modern decor.
Photography © Gurcan Sarisoy
St Winefride’s Well – A History andRev Christopher David (2002)
Mysterious Wales – by Chris Barber (1999)