Holy well could attract 100,000 visitors a year

Reporter:

Matt Jones

A WORLD-renowned holy monument is being wasted and could be attracting up to 100,000 visitors a year.

That is the belief of Holywell mayor Peter Curtis, who describes St Winifred’s Well as ‘a jewel’ for the town.

The second phase of a £150,000 conservation project is drawing to a close at the well, considered the perfect example of medieval architecture in Wales

Now Cllr Curtis is calling for measures to help the site match the six-figure visitor numbers it recorded a century ago.

He said: “I welcome any restoration work on the well. It is a jewel for Holywell and I do not think it is used enough.

“We need to have a proper sign on the A55 directing people to it.”

Cllr Curtis said a cafe on the site would also attract visitors.

He added: “Getting 100,000 visitors is something that should be aimed for and something I am a 100 per cent for. It would be well welcomed.”

Skilled conservators expect to complete their work on the well chapel by the end of the year.

The project includes cleaning the carved stone details, particularly within the intricate vault of the well chamber with its historic graffiti and monograms of Christ.

The well is the site where legend records the martyr St Winifred was restored to life after decapitation.

A spring was reputed to have gushed forth on the spot where her head fell.

St Winifred’s Well built over a powerful natural spring and it is believed to have healing properties.

The Leader reported recently that well-travelled nun Sister Mary Augustus, who described the site as one of the holiest places she had been, was vowing to bring thousands of pilgrims back next year.

Welsh Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones said the well was the only place in Britain with a continuous history of public pilgrimage for more than 13 centuries.

He added: “Cadw is working on a major programme to repair and conserve the site to safeguard it for future generations.”

Cllr Curtis said: “The restoration work is vital. Every year it gets older. It is a 12th century building and needs a lot of care and attention.

“The amount of people who used to come to Holywell was phenomenal. At one time in the early 1900s, 100,000 people would come.

“We still get about 30,000 people a year. They come from all around the world.

“The well is something that Holywell has got that nobody else has.”

See full story in the Leader

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