St Mellor's Well


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018495

Date first listed: 23-Apr-1998


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

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Linkinhorne

National Grid Reference: SX 31903 73150


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 Mellor's Well survives well and appears to have undergone little, if any restoration or alteration. It is a good example of a holy well, 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, known as St Mellor's Well, situated in a sloping field, close to a stream to the south of Linkinhorne. St Mellor's Well survives as a small free-standing granite building over a well basin. The structure measures 1.88m high by 1.45m long and is 1.17m wide. The building is constructed of large granite blocks, with a gabled roof, and there are traces of mortar on the inside of the well chamber. The arched entrance faces south, and there are two iron hinges on the west side of the entrance, suggesting there was a wooden door on the well at some time in the past. Above the entrance is a niche with a pointed arched top, and another niche or recess is at the rear of the well chamber. These niches were originally designed to display figures, probably of the saint to whom the well was dedicated. The well chamber measures 1m long by 0.74m wide. The well basin is 0.4m deep with 0.35m depth of clear water in it; the water flows out of the well through a groove from the well basin to the well entrance. Within the well chamber on the west side is a small ledge, probably for placing a jug when collecting water from the well. St Mellor's Well, a Grade II* Listed Building, is considered to date from the 15th century. The water was used for baptisms and also to cure sprains in horses legs. The well and the local church were probably dedicated to St Mellor at the same time.

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: 30443

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Quiller Couch, L, Quiller Couch, M, Ancient and Holy Wells of Cornwall, (1894)
Consulted June 1997, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 10018,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 27/27; Pathfinder Series 1339 Source Date: 1988 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing