Full Report for Listed Buildings
Summary Description of a Listed Buildings
Date of Designation
Date of Amendment
Name of Property
St. Winifrides's Chapel & Well
Immediately below the Parish Church. The steeply sloping site is used to best advantage by placing the chapel over the well.
Religious, Ritual and Funerary
Built ca 1500-10; replaced earlier church at the well which rose up on the site of St Winefride's martyrdom and miraculous restoration to life by her uncle St Beuno. Benefactor was Lady Margaret, Countess of Richmond mother of Henry VII; she died in 1509 having endowed many buildings. There were various attempts to suppress pilgrims, including conversion of the chapel to a schoolroom in 1723. By later C19, however, the well was flourishing again but a mining accident in 1917 reduced the quantity of water.
The Well Chapel is architecturally a nationally important late Perpendicular building and historically is a major place of pilgrimage, the only shrine in Britain to have survived the Reformation. Successive kings were attracted to St Winefride's and the extra importance that this gave to it contributed to the creation of this remarkable structure. The patronage together with the design quality of the vault over the well and the stellar shape of the central pool suggest that this was probably the work of a Royal Master Mason - compare Henry VII's Chapel, Westminster Abbey (begun 1503); stylistically it is one of the most important ecclesiastical buildings of the period even in European terms. It is further notable for its sculpture (some weathered), in particular the friezes of animals - compare St Mary's Mold built under the same patronage, and in addition it is the most important surviving example of this building-type (chapel over well-pool) - compare Restalrig, Edinburgh.
Plan form is a rectangular, 3-bay well chamber an unusually large well chapel composed of 4-bay nave, with aisle to 3 eastern bays on N side, and 1-bay apsidal chancel. Coursed stone with crenellated parapet and buttresses; polygonal columnar buttresses at corners (in Tudor manner); low pitched roof. Animal frieze below parapet and, on N side, between the two storeys. The well chamber is open to N; to the centre is the largely stellar-shaped well basin; heavily moulded piers rise from the ends of the triangular refuges to carry the complex tierceron vault enriched to centre by a pendant boss, said to portray the life of St Winefride. Piers were formerly linked by traceried screenwork. Fine bosses and figure sculpture throughout. Later plunge bath outside to N. The chapel (restored 1976) has round-headed windows with ogee lights; S door to 2nd bay. Deeply moulded arcade with figure sculpture and piers with high bases. Canted roof with moulded timbers and arched braces. A complete description is not given for this building as much literature already exists on the subject and it is fully recorded.
Reason for designation
Listed grade I for its exceptional architectural and historic intrest.
This building is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Cadw : Full Report for Listed Buildings [ Records 1 of 1 ]