St Clare's Well, Philham
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1003844
Date first listed: 13-Dec-1929
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Torridge (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SS 25806 22518
Holy well known as St Clare’s Well, in the village of Philham.
Reasons for Designation
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 day. In some cases the well is defined by a walled enclosures with a roof to protect the water source and define the sacred area created, such well houses may be simple, unadorned, small structures closely encompassing the water source. They provide important information on the nature of religious beliefs and practices and on the relationship between religion and the landscape during the medieval period.
St Clare’s Holy Well in Philham survives well, having a simple well house and more unusually this contains a stone statue probably of contemporary date. The establishment of a well house emphasises the esteem in which both the local and wider community held it. The building and the well will contain important archaeological information regarding its construction, use and significance throughout turbulent times in religious history.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 29 October 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
This monument includes a holy well, known as St. Clare’s Holy Well, in the heart of the village of Philham. The monument survives as a rectangular building measuring 1.8m long by 1.2m wide, which is covered with an earth mound on three sides and the top. The front wall has been restored with brick and a replacement wooden door has been hung across the original entrance. Inside the building set into a wall, is a small, carved stone statue of a woman, 0.3m in height and probably of medieval date, another part of the statue is thought to be within Hartland Parish Church. The well is used as a water supply for a nearby farm.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: DV 168
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
PastScape Monument No:- 32313
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing