St Julian's Well: a holy well in the middle of Livesey Road, 155m south west of the junction with Sandpits Road


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of St Julian's Well: a holy well in the middle of Livesey Road, 155m south west of the junction with Sandpits Road
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SO 51842 75060

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 Julian's Well is a good example of this class of monument. The limited investigation undertaken here indicates that the cistern contains organic deposits, which are likely to contain well-preserved artefacts, including waterlogged remains. The importance of the well is further enhanced by its association with the Augustinian friary and as a source of water for the medieval town. In its present position, the well continues to act as an important local landmark.


The monument includes the standing structural and buried remains of St Julian's Well, a holy well, situated in the middle of Livesey Road, in the north eastern outskirts of Ludlow. The well was originally within the precints of the Augustinian friary, which was established in the mid-13th century and is located to the east of the medieval town. St Julian's Well was used as a source of water for the White Conduit, which is thought to have served as the town's first public water supply. There are documentary references to the White Conduit during the reign of Edward IV (1461-83), and this is probably the water supply mentioned in a document of 1308. The well and the conduit's course are both shown on a map of 1862. The well house, constructed over the cistern, is built of rubble with dressed quoins and coping stones. The nature of its construction suggests that it has been extensively repaired in the post-medieval period. It is roughly rectangular in plan and of pediment shape. It measures approximately 2.6m by 3m and stands to a height of 1.07m. In 1994, as part of a programme to consolidate the well house, a limited investigation was undertaken. This revealed an entrance at the south western end, which had been blocked by two stone slabs. Inside, steps led down into the cistern, the sides of which were lined with ashlar. The cistern was found to contain a thick deposit of organic matter. This investigation has shown that the structure as a whole survives in good condition. The well is a Listed Building Grade II. The road surface and kerbs, the lamp standard and sign are all excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these features 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Burne, C S, Shropshire Folklore, (1887), 420
Weyman, H T, Ludlow in Byegone Days, (1913), 37-38
Title: Map and Geological Sections of the Borough of Ludlow Source Date: 1862 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Willis, P, St Julian's Well, Livesey Road, Ludlow, (1994)


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

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