Holy well of St Cuby, 25m south west of Brookfield


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020892

Date first listed: 24-Apr-2002

Date of most recent amendment: 11-Aug-2003


Ordnance survey map of Holy well of St Cuby, 25m south west of Brookfield
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Tregoney

National Grid Reference: SW 92784 45101


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 of St Cuby, 25m south west of Brookfield survives well. Despite evidence for partial rebuilding of the well house, the structure remains substantially intact, and below-ground deposits associated with the monument will survive. The related structures and components in front of the well house represent unusual associations.


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


The monument includes the medieval holy well of St Cuby, situated on a moderate south slope at the head of a small valley on the east side of Tregony. The well house, projecting from a bank 2m high on its north west side, has a sub-square overall plan, measuring approximately 1.9m across and 1.8m high externally. It is built of unmortared horizontally laid shillet rubble (a local stone) and is corbelled, or laid with each successive course of stones slightly overlapping the one below, rising to a capping slab. The well chamber within is asymmetrical, the rounded rear corner on the north west side extending beyond that on the south west side, and the roof reaching its apex towards the front (ESE) side. The chamber measures approximately 0.8m SSW-NNE by 1.3m WNW-ESE, and is up to 1m high above the outside ground level. Its walling continues below ground level to form a well shaft at least 0.5m deep. The well has a doorway on the ESE side, 0.8m wide and 0.9m high. This has a relatively recent iron lintel, and remains of a door frame and fittings indicating the former position of a timber door, again relatively recent, are also shown on an old photograph. A notch in the stonework on the NNE side of the doorway is thought to have been cut to accommodate a door. An area in front of the well house, measuring approximately 1.5m east-west by 1.4m north-south, contains remains of an associated pump. This area is defined on the north and south sides by post-medieval walls 0.5m-1m wide and 1m-1.5m high of horizontally laid shillet rubble (that on the south side having a coping of vertically set slabs). Within this area is a concrete or masonry post, 1.25m east of the well house and in front of the south side of its doorway. This post is 0.25m square and 0.2m high. It is recorded on the old photograph, which also shows a pump beside it against the wall on the south of the well, suggesting it may have been used to support receptacles for water pumped from the well.

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: 32952

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Lane-Davies, A, Holy Wells of Cornwall, (1970), 56, 71
Meyrick, J, Holy Wells, (1982), 137-138
Sheppard, P, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Parochial Check-list of Antiquities, Cuby with Tregoney St James, , Vol. 7, (1968), 97
MS transcript of deeds, at RIC, Truro, Henderson, C, Calendar, Calendar, (1920)
SW 94 NW 14, NJA, Ordnance Survey Index Card, (1977)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Map Source Date: 1880 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Map Source Date: 1907 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing