Spreacombe Manor Well Chapel, Braunton
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1003853
Date first listed: 24-Apr-1939
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: North Devon (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SS 48276 41383
Holy well, chapel and priest’s dwelling 180m WSW of Spreacombe Manor.
Reasons for Designation
Holy wells are water sources with specifically Christian associations. The construction of holy wells continued throughout the medieval period, until it was condemned during the Reformation (c.1540). However, local reverence and folklore customs at existing holy wells often continued, in some cases to the present day. The holy wells sometimes functioned as sites for baptism. Structural additions may include lined well shafts or conduit heads on springs, often with a tank to gather the water at the surface. At their most elaborate, chapels, and sometimes churches, may have been built beside the well. 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.
The holy well 180m WSW of Spreacombe Manor is unusual because it has both an associated chapel and a dwelling for the priest. For the majority of holy wells a simple well building is all that remains. This particular well was clearly held in particularly high regard. Despite partial excavation and subsequent rebuilding of the walls, these structures survive comparatively well and will continue to contain important archaeological and environmental material.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 2 November 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, chapel and priest’s dwelling overlooking a tributary to the River Caen. The building survives as a three-celled sub rectangular structure with an attached circular water tank. The chapel lies at the eastern end of the structure. It measures 8m long by 4m wide. It has three doors; all with stone jambs, to the north, south and west, the latter connects with the priest’s dwelling. The southern door is partially paved. A circular stone built well is attached at the eastern end of the chapel. The priest’s dwelling has two rooms. The central room measures 3m long by 2m wide and the westernmost room is 4m long by 3m wide. This room has a door to the south and a fireplace revealed by excavations in the 1920s. The outer walls are rubble built up to 0.8m wide and 1m high. Inner partition walls are up to 0.3m wide. The chapel was dedicated to St John the Baptist and licensed for worship in 1385. It was a secular chantry. Arthur Leigh Barker excavated the monument in the 1920s. He was later buried here with Lady Arthur Cecil of Spreacombe Manor. More recent finds of tile fragments and pottery have been donated to Ilfracombe Museum.
The holy well, chapel and dwelling are Listed Grade II.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: DV 197
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
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