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 Post subject: St. Mary's Well, Elwy Valley, North Wales
PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2009 11:08 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2007 10:50 am
Posts: 113
Location: Wearside
Source: BBC North East Wales, 16th October 2009

By Alys Lewis

In search of north east Wales' holy wells, Alys finds St Mary's in a remote and tranquil location

The ruins of a pilgrimage chapel show that once St Mary's well in the Elwy Valley was seen as an important place of worship.
Today, St Mary's well is situated on private farmland and can only be reached on foot, by crossing fields and a small stream, once permission has been sought.

Its isolated location means that it's in a very peaceful spot. While overgrown, the remains of the well and the chapel which was built by it can still be seen.

They have known to have been visited by pilgrims for centuries though it's unclear when exactly the shrine would have been created.

The earliest part of the chapel building is thought to date from the 13th Century. In the 15th Century a chancel was added and the well basin was rebuilt.

The basin is in the form of a star, similar to the more famous well at Holywell which Lady Margaret Beaufort had built in the same century.

This has led to speculation that she was also involved in the construction of St Mary's Well as the expansion of the chapel would have required substantial funds.

Following the Reformation the well began to fall into disrepair though there are records dating from the 1640s which make references to clandestine marriages being conducted there.

By the 18th Century the chapel was in ruins and the pilgrimages had ended, however in recent years churches have once again started to make pilgrimages to the site.

The Reverend Colin Mansley, Vicar of the parish of Cefn Meiriadog, recalls taking part in a pilgrimage to the well organised by the Deanery in July 2008.

The well was visited by the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins when he spent three years at the nearby St Beuno's Jesuit college in Tremeirchion in the 1870s.

The poet Felicia Hemans, best known for the poem which begins 'The boy stood on the burning deck', lived in St Asaph during her youth and was said to be very fond of the well, even writing a poem about it.

There are photos at the link -

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