St Plegmund's Well 200m east of Bankfield Farm
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Cheshire West and Chester (Unitary Authority)
- Mickle Trafford
- National Grid Reference:
- SJ 45525 70129
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
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
The holy well at Plemstall is an uncommon monument type in Cheshire. The well is in good condition in spite of the loss of the supply of water and despite restorations in the past. Much of the surviving stonework is medieval and some may date back to the Anglo-Saxon period. The ground immediately around the monument will contain evidence for the use and construction of the well pit and the waterlogged soils and deposits beneath the well will have both environmental remains and possibly votive offerings from the entire time that the well has been in use.
The monument includes a holy well dedicated to St Plegmund, an Anglo-Saxon
saint, Archbishop of Canterbury AD 890-923. The site of the church at
Plemstall was possibly a hermitage occupied by the saint in the late 9th
century and the well is associated with this foundation. In medieval times
the well was known as a christening well, a name that it retains locally to
The well is a stone-lined pit with two steps down into the sink on the south
side. Beneath this is a circular rough stone well 0.4m in diameter descending
for 0.5m to the soakaway. Half of this well is obscured under the stonework
lining the northern side of the pit. The pit is of dressed stone and is 1.3m
wide east to west, 1.5m wide north to south and 0.4m deep.
Flanking the pit on the east and west sides are two large dressed stone slabs,
1.5m by 1m and decorated with a rebate on two sides. These formed a cover for
the well and are now left permanently aside.
The well pit was restored in 1907 and an inscribed curb placed around the top,
which has since disappeared. Fragments of dressed stone lying on the north
side of the well may, however, be part of the curb.
The steel railings and the surface of the road 0.5m to the south of the
monument, where they fall within the wells protective margin, are excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 1 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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Matthews K J, , St Plegmund's Well; an Archeological and Historical Survey, (1995), 9
Matthews K J, , St Plegmund's Well; an Archeological and Historical Survey, (1995), 19
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