Dupath holy well, 45m NNE of Dupath Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013663

Date first listed: 10-Aug-1923

Date of most recent amendment: 30-Nov-1995


Ordnance survey map of Dupath holy well, 45m NNE of Dupath Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1013663 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 20-Nov-2018 at 23:57:20.


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

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Callington

National Grid Reference: SX 37499 69220


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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 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 period.

The Dupath holy well survives well as an unusually late and large example of a medieval holy well house, with relatively minor alteration and additions resulting from the 19th and 20th century restoration and consolidation works. It is the largest medieval well house over a holy well in Cornwall and is also unusual in the quality of its construction and decoration.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a large and elaborate late medieval holy well house over a flowing spring, situated 1.5km ESE of Callington in north east Cornwall. Adjacent to the well house is a medieval circular trough that collects the outflowing water. The holy well is located on the upper slope of a small valley containing a minor tributary of the River Tamar. The well house is a monument in the care of the Secretary of State and is Listed Grade I. The holy well survives with a rectangular well house measuring 3.9m north east - south west by 3.59m north west - south east externally, with the entrance in the south west end. The walls are built from large neatly squared and finely jointed granite blocks, a masonry type called ashlar. The blocks are often massive, up to 3.5m long, and laid in regular courses up to 0.49m thick. The walls rise 2.35m high at eaves level, passing through six courses, though adjoining higher ground masks the lower course of the south east wall. The south west and north east gables are similarly constructed but with generally smaller blocks and rise to c.4m high at roof ridge level. The south west doorway has a depressed arch, hollow-moulded on its outer side. It is set within a sunken surround with raised moulding along its outer edges. This doorway and surround are framed by massive jamb and lintel slabs flush with the south west wall face. The doorway's threshold is a reused window sill, chamfered along its inner edge and with infilled sockets for glazing bars along its upper face. A modern wooden door with iron fittings closes against the doorway's inner face. The well house is lit by a small vertical slit window in each side wall and a larger decorated window of two lights in the north east wall. The slit windows are unglazed, up to 0.48m high by 0.1m wide, with inwardly-splayed sides. The main window, in the north east wall, is 1m high and 0.94m wide overall, divided into two courses up to 0.38m wide by a single mullion. Both lights have depressed arched heads, carved from a single slab, with hollow-moulded edges except for the inner edges of the mullion: its north west inner edge is chamfered while its south east inner edge has a roughly battered chamfer. The mullion is also slightly shorter than the thickness of the window opening, a group of discrepancies taken to indicate that the mullion is reused in its present position. The window's lights also have square sockets for glazing bars: three horizontal and one vertical, though again the mullion differs in having two additional lozenge-shaped sockets in its north west face. The well house is roofed by courses of granite slabs spanning the length of the building, seven courses on each side and two slabs to each course, supported by the gable and a single internal arch. The outer faces of the slabs are bevelled to match the 45-50 degree pitch of the roof, with only fine jointing visible between slabs and courses. The lowermost course along each side overhangs the wall face by up to 0.17m. A course of shorter slabs forms the ridge of the roof. From the lower edge of the roof at each corner of the well house, a slab known as a kneeler, projects a little to each side to support a small square-section pinnacle. The pinnacles have small raised enrichments called crockets along their edges and the most intact pinnacle, above the eastern corner, is 0.9m high. A similar pinnacle rises from the top of the north east gable. The south west gable terminates as a small rectangular platform surmounted by a large bellcote. The sides of the bellcote are formed by two upright tapered slabs whose parallel inner faces bear sockets for the bell pivot. These sides support a highly decorative canopy carved from a square slab, with cable moulding along the lower edge and mock battlements carved around the sides. A small crocketed pinnacle rises from each corner of the slab, with a similar larger pinnacle rising from the centre. The well house walls are generally 0.27m-0.3m thick, but rise to 0.44m thick in the south west wall to accommodate the large entrance opening and the bell cote above. This gives the building internal dimensions of 3.15m long, north east - south west, by 3m wide, north west - south east. The interior faces rise 2.4m to the lowest row of roof slabs, with the gables rising to 4.05m. The interior is divided into two sectors by the roof support arch and by two granite sill slabs crossing the floor beneath the arch. These mark off a south western area, 1.53m long, beside the entrance, in which the spring is channelled across the floor, and a north eastern area, 1.35m long, dominated by the well pool and lit by the main window. The south west area is lit from each side by the two slit windows, their splays partly masked by the arch pillars. Much of the present floor in this area comprises mortared slate paving from a relatively recent restoration, but granite slabs along the north west and south east sides are considered earlier features. Also the result of recent restoration is a granite gutter which carries water from the spring, under the south east end of the threshold slab, and then crosses the floor to a gap between the two sill slabs beneath the roof arch. A 19th century account describes the water flowing unchannelled from the spring. After passing between the two sill slabs, the gutter discharges the water into the well pool, occupying most of the north east sector of the interior. The pool measures 2.45m north west - south east, across the width of the well house, by up to 0.7m wide and 0.2m deep. It is defined to the south west by the granite sill slabs beneath the roof arch and to the north west and south east by granite floor slabs beside the walls. The north east side of the pool is defined by slender granite edging slabs, separated from the north east wall by a narrow strip of recent mortared slate paving. Water flows out of the pool across that recent paving, leaving the well house through a hole near the base of the north east wall. From there the water pours over the lip of a medieval circular stone trough, 0.59m in external diameter, 0.41m high and with walls 0.07m thick. The trough resembles a small mortar and is decorated on its outer surface by four opposed flat vertical ribs, each 0.13m wide and 0.05m high. Water leaves the trough through a hole near the base of its NNW side, flowing into the head of an adjoining modern drain. The roof support arch within the well house is supported on plain pillars, up to 1.75m high, against the north west and south east walls and each largely carved from a single slab, up to 0.33m wide and 0.22m thick. Each pillar supports a plain capital, bevelled on its innermost face only. From this springs the single granite rib forming each side of the arch, meeting at a large but simple bevelled keystone. The ribs forming the arch are finished differently on each face: their north west faces have a rough surface with shallow hollows along their lower edges; their south east faces are smooth with pecked pitting and a chamfered lower edge. A narrow gap between the ribs of the arch and the inner faces of the roof slabs is filled by mortared rubble. The holy well house has been dated to c.1510 and incorporates architectural features typical of the 15th century to the early-16th century. It was built on land that was then named `Theu Path', acquired by the Augustinian canons of St Germans in 1432 and remaining in their possession until their priory was dissolved in 1539. A tradition persists that this holy well is located close to a chapel dedicated to St Ethelred, licensed in 1405, though the identification of that chapel with this site remains insecure. In the mid-19th century the antiquary Thomas Quiller-Couch recorded the well house as considerably overgrown and other late 19th century writers also note that the monument had relatively recently attracted an apocryphal legend to account for its construction. The well was partly restored during the 19th century by the Revd H M Rice, the rector of South Hill and Callington. Further consolidation and drainage at the monument was undertaken by the Ministry of Works and their successors after the monument passed into Guardianship in 1936. All English Heritage notices, fittings, fences, modern drain pipes and their trenches are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


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

Legacy System number: 15407

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Henderson, C, The Cornish Church Guide, (1928)
Quiller Couch, L, Quiller Couch, M, Ancient and Holy Wells of Cornwall, (1894)
Quiller Couch, L, Quiller Couch, M, Ancient and Holy Wells of Cornwall, (1894)
consulted 1994, CCRA Register entry for SX 36 NE/ 7,
consulted 1994, Cornmwall SMR entry for PRN 6803,
consulted 1994, DNH/HBMC, Ancient Monuments Terrier, Deed Plan & assoc docmtn for CO 22, (1984)
consulted 1994, DNH/HBMC, Ancient Monuments Terrier, Deed Plan & assoc docmtn for CO 22, (1984)
dated 25/8/1958 from Royal Inst Corn, Douch, H L, Letter to A D Saunders detailing Henderson's note on Dupath Well, (1958)
dated 25/8/1958 from Royal Inst Corn, Douch, H L, Letter to A D Saunders detailing Henderson's note on Dupath Well, (1958)
English Heritage, Cornwall Listing Scheduling Overlap list, 1992, SAM CO 22/List 514-8/2
Thomas, N, A Watching Brief at Dupath Holy Well, Callington, 1992,
Thomas, N, A Watching Brief at Dupath Holy Well, Callington, 1992,
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map: SX 36 NE Source Date: 1963 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing