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Historic Site of the week

St Winefride's Well

St Winefride's Well is a healing spring that has been visited by pilgrims for more than a thousand years. Known as the 'Lourdes of Wales', it is still probably the oldest continually visited pilgrimage site in Great Britain.

The healing waters have been said to cause miraculous cures. The legend of Saint Winifred tells how, in AD 660, Caradoc, the son of a local prince, severed the head of the young Winifred after she spurned his advances. A spring rose from the ground at the spot where her head fell and she was later restored to life by her uncle, Saint Beuno.

Richard I visited the site in 1189 to pray for the success of his crusade, and Henry V was said by Adam of Usk to have travelled there on foot from Shrewsbury in 1416.

In the late 15th century, Lady Margaret Beaufort had built a chapel overlooking the well, which now opens onto a pool where visitors may bathe. Some of the structures at the well date from the reign of King Henry VII or earlier. Later, King Henry VIII caused the shrine and saintly relics to be destroyed, but some have been recovered to be housed at Shrewsbury and Holywell.