Holy well at Trelill, 190m ENE of Trelill House


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SW 67683 28468

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. 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 affect 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. Of these, over 200 are recorded from Cornwall, providing one of the highest densities of surviving examples. 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 at Trelill, 190m ENE of Trelill House survives well and contains some of the more elaborate features such as benches and niches to be found in well-head structures. It is also steeped in local folklore. In addition to its clear architectural and historic interest, the well will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, social and religious significance despite turbulent periods of religious iconoclasm and its overall landscape context.


The monument includes a holy well situated in the small valley of a tributary to the Helford River. The holy well survives as a small square building measuring up to 2m high with an east-facing chamfered pointed arched doorway and a corbelled granite stone roof. The walls are drystone rubble built with granite dressings. Within the interior are two stone benches on either side of the entrance and to the rear is a further arch with a recess behind which measures up to 0.8m long, 0.5m wide and 0.3m deep containing the well. Above this internal arch is a rectangular niche with two further smaller square niches on either side. The well building dates to the 15th century. Dedicated to St. Wendrona, the well was first recorded in 1423 as 'Fenton Wendron'. In 1427 the vicar of Wendron had a licence to say mass 'in the chapel of St. Wendrona at Tresulle'; the spelling of the place name is believed to be a clerical error for 'Trelulle' the original spelling of Trelill, the current name. Henderson states that the people wished to build a church at Trelill, but according to folklore 'the crows came by night and removed every stone with the exception of the porch which now forms the covering of the well'. Another tradition said it was unlucky to visit the well without leaving a pin. A decorated stone cross now at Constantine formerly stood near to the well but was removed at some time prior to 1896. The holy well is Listed Grade II* (66314).

Sources: HER:- PastScape Monument No:-425384


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
CO 1
Legacy System:


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

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