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St Clether's Chapel and Holy Well

A Scheduled Monument in St. Clether, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.6332 / 50°37'59"N

Longitude: -4.5434 / 4°32'36"W

OS Eastings: 220226.010886

OS Northings: 84590.319563

OS Grid: SX202845

Mapcode National: GBR NB.9GRD

Mapcode Global: FRA 17CD.HRL

Entry Name: St Clether's Chapel and Holy Well

Scheduled Date: 24 April 1978

Last Amended: 18 September 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018492

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31824

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Clether

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Clether

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval chapel, known as St Clethers, and a holy well
set in a small enclosure situated to the north west of the church at St
The chapel survives as a rectangular, stone built structure with a pitched
slate roof and is Listed Grade II*. It measures 7.8m long by 5.2m
wide, and is orientated north west-south east. The walls are 0.9m thick,
constructed of greenstone with granite quoins and window and door surrounds.
There are two entrances, one at the north west end of the building and one in
the north east side. Both have wooden doors. There is a large window in the
south east wall above the altar which consists of a large granite slab with
incised consecration crosses set on two roughly shaped blocks of granite.
There is a small window in the south west wall above an arched entrance to a
well basin. The water from the holy well, located to the north east of the
chapel, runs through a stone channel behind the altar and collects in the
basin in the south east corner of the chapel wall. This channel is visible to
the north east of the altar. There is a rectangular hole in the wall above the
basin, which gives access to the water from the interior of the chapel. There
is a third window above the north west entrance and a granite corbel set high
on the north east wall. At the apex of the south east end of the roof is a
small stone cross.
The holy well, which is also Listed Grade II*, is located upslope from the
chapel, at its north east corner. It survives as a small stone structure with
a pitched granite roof, over a well basin. The well house measures 1.77m long
by 2m wide and is orientated north east-south west. Two low granite walls
extend outwards to either side of the entrance, and a rounded arched doorway
gives access to the well basin where there is clear water to a depth of 0.32m.
The water seeps through a groove in the granite edge to the well basin into a
covered stone channel into the chapel.
The chapel and well are situated in a small rectanglar enclosure, measuring
approximately 20m north west-south east by 25m north east-south west, on a
steeply sloping hillside. The north east side of the enclosure is formed by a
field boundary running along the valley side. On three sides the enclosure is
formed by a broad, low earth bank, but on the south west side it is formed by
a stone revetted scarp. A break in the bank to the south east gives access to
the enclosure from the direction of St Clether church.
There is a local tradition that the well and chapel were built by St Clether
in the early medieval period and that the altar dates from this time. The
chapel was rebuilt in the 15th century when arrangements to conduct water from
the well through the chapel were made. It is also believed that the enclosure
was created at the same time. The two entrances to the chapel were probably
designed to conduct pilgrims through the chapel. The well basin built into the
wall of the chapel with access to the interior was probably designed so that
the priest could accept offerings from pilgrims. The chapel and well fell into
disuse, and were partly rebuilt in the late 19th century, when the upper part
of the walls were rebuilt and a new roof put on the chapel. In the early
1990's the chapel was repointed and more recently the roof of the well has
been restored.
The post and wire fence around the chapel enclosure, the wooden benches,
chairs, tables, the mat on the chapel floor, and the wooden shelf in the
south east window 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

A medieval chapel is a building, usually rectangular, containing a range of
furnishings and fittings appropriate for Christian worship in the pre-
Reformation period. Chapels were designed for congregational worship and were
generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provided accommodation
for the laity, and the chancel, which was the main domain of the priest and
contained the principal altar. Around 4000 parochial chapels were built
between the 12th and 17th centuries as subsidiary places of worship built for
the convenience of parishioners who lived at a distance from the main parish
church. Other chapels were built as private places of worship by manorial
lords and lie near or within manor houses, castles or other high-status
residences. Chantry chapels were built and maintained by endowment and were
established for the singing of masses for the soul of the founder. Some
chapels possessed burial grounds. Unlike parish churches, the majority of
which remain in ecclesiastical use, chapels were often abandoned as their
communities and supporting finances declined or disappeared. Many chantry
chapels disappeared after the dissolution of their supporting communities in
the 1540s.
Chapels, like parish churches, have always been major features of the
landscape. A significant number of surviving examples are identified as being
nationally important. The sites of abandoned chapels, where positively
identified, are particularly worthy of statutory protection as they were often
left largely undisturbed and thus retain important information about the
nature and date of their use up to their abandonment.

St Clether's Chapel and Holy Well chapel and holy well survive well, despite
some restoration in the late 19th century. Both the chapel and well buildings
are considered to date from the 15th century but have earlier origins. The
enclosure within which they are sited is believed to date from this rebuilding
of the 15th century. The chapel is one of the largest well chapels in
Cornwall, amd the arangement of the water from the well through the chapel is
unique. This is probably the best surviving example of chapel and holy well in
their own enclosure. Services are still occasionally held in the chapel in the
summer months.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Gradwell, R, St Clether Well Chapel, (1989)
Gradwell, R, St Clether Well Chapel, (1989)
Preston-Jones, A, Attwell, D, Repairs to St Clether Holy Well, (1995)
Preston-Jones, A, Attwell, D, Repairs to St Clether Holy Well, (1995)
Baring Gould, S, 'Cornish Magazine' in The Well Chapel of St Clether, (1898)
Consulted July 1997, AM7 for CO 1055,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 28/38; Pathfinder Series 1326
Source Date: 1989

Source: Historic England

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