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 Post subject: Winifrede's Well by John Shaffer
PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2008 4:28 pm 
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John Shaffer
Cold Tree Press

John Shaffer's Winifred's Well bravely chooses 1917, and the disastrous disruption to the sites water supply by local mining, as an introduction to the history of St Winifred's Well. In so doing, Shaffer has consciously sought to concentrate on the Well's modern history, using the more traditional chronological approach to the site only to establish why this disaster was so heartfelt locally, rather than using it to structure the whole narrative. Consequently, the focus of haffer's book is, initially, in providing the detailed background to the Well running dry, from the work of Anna Maria Mostyn and the 1904 opposition to the Milwr Tunnel, to its ultimate failure as the tunnel breached Powell's Lode [the Well's water source]. The latter half of the book, marked by what is a probably correct association of the Winifred cult with pre-Christian activity, introduces a more general range of themes for the study of the Well, essentially built around different beliefs attributed to the site. The curse, and of particular interest the sins and offenses at the site remain useful contributions to the field. However, of perhaps greater importance are the issues of catholic recusancy at the Well.

Comprehensively researched, this book has collated an impressive and seldom seen corpus of newspaper clippings, contemporary sources, illustrations, legal documents and personal correspondence into a clear and detailed narrative of the 1904 campaign to save the Winifred Well, its failure and ultimate triumph. However, Shaffer's interest in a broad spectrum of spirituality is in evidence across this book that has weaved a complex narrative between personal interpretations of St Winifred's Well, and how these perceptions fared in a mercurial world. It is this interplay of themes that marks this book out as unusual amongst the broad range of scholarship that St Winifred's Well has attracted.

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