Ancient Monuments

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St Julian's Well: a holy well in the middle of Livesey Road, 155m south west of the junction with Sandpits Road

A Scheduled Monument in Ludlow, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.3715 / 52°22'17"N

Longitude: -2.7088 / 2°42'31"W

OS Eastings: 351842.401608

OS Northings: 275060.585208

OS Grid: SO518750

Mapcode National: GBR BL.RMTZ

Mapcode Global: VH844.0NBD

Entry Name: St Julian's Well: a holy well in the middle of Livesey Road, 155m south west of the junction with Sandpits Road

Scheduled Date: 5 July 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020656

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34916

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Ludlow

Built-Up Area: Ludlow

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Ludlow St John

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the standing structural and buried remains of
St Julian's Well, a holy well, situated in the middle of Livesey Road, in the
north eastern outskirts of Ludlow. The well was originally within the
precints of the Augustinian friary, which was established in the mid-13th
century and is located to the east of the medieval town.
St Julian's Well was used as a source of water for the White Conduit, which is
thought to have served as the town's first public water supply. There are
documentary references to the White Conduit during the reign of Edward IV
(1461-83), and this is probably the water supply mentioned in a document of
1308. The well and the conduit's course are both shown on a map of 1862.
The well house, constructed over the cistern, is built of rubble with dressed
quoins and coping stones. The nature of its construction suggests that it has
been extensively repaired in the post-medieval period. It is roughly
rectangular in plan and of pediment shape. It measures approximately 2.6m by
3m and stands to a height of 1.07m. In 1994, as part of a programme to
consolidate the well house, a limited investigation was undertaken. This
revealed an entrance at the south western end, which had been blocked by two
stone slabs. Inside, steps led down into the cistern, the sides of which were
lined with ashlar. The cistern was found to contain a thick deposit of organic
matter. This investigation has shown that the structure as a whole survives in
good condition.
The well is a Listed Building Grade II.
The road surface and kerbs, the lamp standard and sign are all excluded from
the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these features 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

St Julian's Well is a good example of this class of monument. The limited
investigation undertaken here indicates that the cistern contains organic
deposits, which are likely to contain well-preserved artefacts, including
waterlogged remains. The importance of the well is further enhanced by its
association with the Augustinian friary and as a source of water for the
medieval town. In its present position, the well continues to act as an
important local landmark.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Burne, C S, Shropshire Folklore, (1887), 420
Weyman, H T, Ludlow in Byegone Days, (1913), 37-38
Title: Map and Geological Sections of the Borough of Ludlow
Source Date: 1862

Willis, P, St Julian's Well, Livesey Road, Ludlow, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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