St Cyor's well house


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018204

Date first listed: 23-Mar-1953

Date of most recent amendment: 29-Apr-1998


Ordnance survey map of St Cyor's well house
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Luxulyan

National Grid Reference: SX 05280 58036


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.

St Cyor's holy well house survives well, despite having undergone some restoration in the 19th and 20th centuries. Although the well is dry as the stream which supplied the water was diverted away from the well in the last century, the local people still venerate it, leaving gifts of fruit, flowers and candles in the well house. It is a good example of a holy well having a basin inside a well chamber, and a well house built over the top.


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


The monument includes a medieval holy well house, known as St Cyor's Well (or St Cyr's), situated in a small cobbled courtyard to the east of the parish church at Luxulyan. St Cyor's Well survives as a small granite building over a well basin. The structure measures 1.81m east-west by 2.04m north-south. The building is constructed of large granite blocks and mortar, the walls are 1.37m high above ground level and the gabled roof slopes steeply above, giving an overall height of approximately 3m. The tall, narrow arched entrance faces east and is decorated with a simple moulding. The interior of the well house measures 1.12m long by 0.96m wide and is 2.05m high. The well basin measures 1.02m long by 0.74m wide and is 0.20m deep. It has a modern cement floor. In the south wall is a small rectangular recess probably for placing a jug when collecting water. On the west wall is a moulded step or platform of Pentewan stone projecting out of the wall, originally designed to display a figure, probably of the saint to whom the well was dedicated. Immediately to the east of the well is a modern recess formed by a low granite wall to either side and two steps down to the well entrance. St Cyor's well house is believed to date from the 15th century. Quiller-Couch visited this well in the mid-19th century and recorded that it was in good condition and had a constant supply of water. In 1873-4 the stream which supplied the well was diverted when a cutting was made for a mineral tramway. By the later 19th century the well was dry and falling into a ruinous state. In 1891 when M and L Quiller-Couch visited the well it had been carefully restored but there was a tank in the interior and a tap. Water was piped to the well from the vicarage. By 1925 the well was again falling into decay. In 1980 the well house was repointed and a cobbled courtyard built around it; the cement floor was probably put in the well basin at this time. The modern granite bench to the south of the well house, the wooden troughs and tubs containing flowering plants and the wooden trellis to either side of the well house are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

Legacy System number: 30444

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)
AM 7 scheduling documentation for CO 348, Consulted 1997
Consulted 1997, FMW report for CO 348,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX05/15; St Austell and Fowey Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing