The holy well of North Petherwyn
The holy well in the Cornish village of North Petherwyn
was once a central part of sacred life in the village.
Even today some of the oldest residents of the village
had been christened in its water. But by the 1990s it
was in poor condition and had been totally neglected.
basin was filled with earth and it was protected only by
an old cattle barrier that had been thrown against
In 1995 the North Cornwall County
Council's Heritage Coast and Countryside Service did a
review of wells in northern Cornwall based on a book
written 100 years before by the Quiller Couch sisters
(Ancient & Holy Wells of Cornwall, 1894). They
discovered several wells that were overgrown and
forgotten – and initiated projects with local
communities to restore them.
Petherwyn Holy Well is one of these. It is first
mentioned in the late 1400s, although it could be much
earlier. The current structure includes a date stone of
1849 – probably the last major restoration – but by 1995
it was derelict and stagnant.
Work started on
the well in 1998 – with the support of Sacred Land and
other rural grant-giving bodies as well as the full
support of the community, archaeologists and local
craftspeople and students.
several tons of sludge, a horseshoe and plenty of
hazelnuts. When they had finished the well had two
metres of ‘crystal-clear water within a beautiful
By April 1999 villagers
were able to celebrate with handmade banners and a
procession – after years of obscurity their well was now