Holy Well at Rezare


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018004

Date first listed: 23-Apr-1998


Ordnance survey map of Holy Well at Rezare
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Lezant

National Grid Reference: SX 36084 77613


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 Holy Well at Rezare survives well and appears to have undergone little alteration when restored in the 1960s. It is a good example of a well built into the side of a hill, having a basin inside a well chamber, and a well house built over the top. It maintains its function as a well.


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


The monument includes a medieval holy well, situated close to the entrance to East Farm, Rezare. The holy well, which is orientated east-west, survives as a small stone building over a well basin, with a steeply pitched granite roof, and a walled recess in front of the entrance. The west face of the structure measures 1.61m high from the floor of the recess to the apex of the roof, the roof being surmounted at each end by a modern, plain granite Latin cross 0.45m high. The well house measures 1.75m long by 2m wide, the recess measuring 1.24m long by 0.96m wide and 0.84m high. The top of the recess is level with the ground. The well chamber measures 1.08m high by 1.15m long and is 0.48m wide. It is constructed of stone walls, with a flat ceiling of slate, and the entrance has a padlocked iron gate. The well basin within the chamber is approximately 0.9m deep and contains 0.3m depth of clear water. Two bricks have been set into the top edge of the well basin at the entrance, and there is an iron lintel across the top of the entrance. The floor of the recess, which is reached by three stone steps, is constructed of slate crazy paving and the two walls forming the sides of the recess are of local stone, with a pair of reused granite gateposts forming the top of the walls, their iron gate fittings are still attached. The walls and facade of the well are constructed of local stone, while the roof is of large slabs of granite cemented together to form a steeply pitched roof. As the well is built into the hillslope, the roof slopes to meet the ground at the west end, but the ground slopes away to reveal part of the well house walls at the east end. This medieval holy well, which is Listed Grade II, was restored in the 1960s but appears to have been little altered from its original construction. The exact date of the building is unknown. The metalled road to the north and east of the well, the wooden fence around it, the stone trough and the iron pipe to its north, and the gravel surface where they fall within the well's protective margin are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath 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: 30441

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Meyrick, J, A Pilgrim's Guide to the Holy Wells of Cornwall, (1982)
Consulted June 1997, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No.6968,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX27/37; Pathfinder Series 1339 Source Date: 1988 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing