Ancient Monuments

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St Mellor's Well

A Scheduled Monument in Linkinhorne, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.5339 / 50°32'2"N

Longitude: -4.3733 / 4°22'23"W

OS Eastings: 231903.159489

OS Northings: 73149.989897

OS Grid: SX319731

Mapcode National: GBR NK.HQH1

Mapcode Global: FRA 17QN.B1K

Entry Name: St Mellor's Well

Scheduled Date: 23 April 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018495

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30443

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Linkinhorne

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Linkinhorne

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval holy well, known as St Mellor's Well,
situated in a sloping field, close to a stream to the south of Linkinhorne.
St Mellor's Well survives as a small free-standing granite building over a
well basin. The structure measures 1.88m high by 1.45m long and is 1.17m
wide. The building is constructed of large granite blocks, with a gabled roof,
and there are traces of mortar on the inside of the well chamber. The arched
entrance faces south, and there are two iron hinges on the west side of the
entrance, suggesting there was a wooden door on the well at some time in
the past. Above the entrance is a niche with a pointed arched top, and another
niche or recess is at the rear of the well chamber. These niches were
originally designed to display figures, probably of the saint to whom the well
was dedicated. The well chamber measures 1m long by 0.74m wide. The well basin
is 0.4m deep with 0.35m depth of clear water in it; the water flows out of
the well through a groove from the well basin to the well entrance. Within the
well chamber on the west side is a small ledge, probably for placing a jug
when collecting water from the well.
St Mellor's Well, a Grade II* Listed Building, is considered to date from the
15th century. The water was used for baptisms and also to cure sprains in
horses legs. The well and the local church were probably dedicated to St
Mellor at the same time.

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

St Mellor's Well survives well and appears to have undergone little, if any
restoration or alteration. It is a good example of a holy well, 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
Quiller Couch, L, Quiller Couch, M, Ancient and Holy Wells of Cornwall, (1894)
Consulted June 1997, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 10018,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 27/27; Pathfinder Series 1339
Source Date: 1988

Source: Historic England

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