Ancient Monuments

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Holy Well at Rezare

A Scheduled Monument in Lezant, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.5752 / 50°34'30"N

Longitude: -4.3163 / 4°18'58"W

OS Eastings: 236083.622401

OS Northings: 77613.111469

OS Grid: SX360776

Mapcode National: GBR NN.F13X

Mapcode Global: FRA 17VK.27W

Entry Name: Holy Well at Rezare

Scheduled Date: 23 April 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018004

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30441

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Lezant

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Lezant

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval holy well, situated close to the entrance to
East Farm, Rezare.
The holy well, which is orientated east-west, survives as a small stone
building over a well basin, with a steeply pitched granite roof, and a walled
recess in front of the entrance. The west face of the structure measures 1.61m
high from the floor of the recess to the apex of the roof, the roof being
surmounted at each end by a modern, plain granite Latin cross 0.45m high. The
well house measures 1.75m long by 2m wide, the recess measuring 1.24m long by
0.96m wide and 0.84m high. The top of the recess is level with the ground. The
well chamber measures 1.08m high by 1.15m long and is 0.48m wide. It is
constructed of stone walls, with a flat ceiling of slate, and the entrance has
a padlocked iron gate. The well basin within the chamber is approximately 0.9m
deep and contains 0.3m depth of clear water. Two bricks have been set into the
top edge of the well basin at the entrance, and there is an iron lintel across
the top of the entrance. The floor of the recess, which is reached by three
stone steps, is constructed of slate crazy paving and the two walls forming
the sides of the recess are of local stone, with a pair of reused granite
gateposts forming the top of the walls, their iron gate fittings are still
attached. The walls and facade of the well are constructed of local stone,
while the roof is of large slabs of granite cemented together to form a
steeply pitched roof. As the well is built into the hillslope, the roof slopes
to meet the ground at the west end, but the ground slopes away to reveal part
of the well house walls at the east end.
This medieval holy well, which is Listed Grade II, was restored in the 1960s
but appears to have been little altered from its original construction. The
exact date of the building is unknown.
The metalled road to the north and east of the well, the wooden fence around
it, the stone trough and the iron pipe to its north, and the gravel
surface where they fall within the well's protective margin are excluded from
the scheduling although the ground beneath is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Holy wells are water sources with specifically Christian associations. The
custom of venerating springs and wells as sacred sites is also known to have
characterised pre-Christian religions in Britain and, although Christian wells
have been identified from as early as the 6th century AD, it is clear that
some holy wells originated as earlier sacred sites. The cult of holy wells
continued throughout the medieval period. Its condemnation at the time of the
Reformation (c.1540) ended new foundations but local reverence and folklore
customs at existing holy wells often continued, in some cases to the present
The holy wells sometimes functioned as sites for baptism but they were also
revered for less tangible reasons, some of which may have had origins in pre-
Christian customs, such as folklore beliefs in the healing powers of the water
and its capacity to effect a desired outcome for future events. Associated
rituals often evolved, usually requiring the donation of an object or coin to
retain the 'sympathy' of the well for the person seeking its benefits.
At their simplest, holy wells may be unelaborated natural springs with
associated religious traditions. Structural additions may include lined well
shafts or conduit heads on springs, often with a tank to gather the water at
the surface. The roofing of walled enclosures to protect the water source and
define the sacred area created well houses which may be simple, unadorned
small structures closely encompassing the water source, or larger buildings,
decorated in the prevailing architectural style and facilitating access with
features such as steps to the water source and open areas with stone benching
where visitors might shelter. At their most elaborate, chapels, and sometimes
churches, may have been built over the well or adjacent well house. The number
of holy wells is not known but estimates suggest at least 600 nationally. They
provide important information on the nature of religious beliefs and practices
and on the relationship between religion and the landscape during the medieval

The Holy Well at Rezare survives well and appears to have undergone little
alteration when restored in the 1960s. It is a good example of a well built
into the side of a hill, having a basin inside a well chamber, and a well
house built over the top. It maintains its function as a well.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Meyrick, J, A Pilgrim's Guide to the Holy Wells of Cornwall, (1982)
Consulted June 1997, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No.6968,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX27/37; Pathfinder Series 1339
Source Date: 1988

Source: Historic England

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