A place of pilgrimage since medieval times, St Winefride's Well gives Holywell its name. The Leader looks at its history and its appeal to a succession of royal visitors...

One of the Seven Wonders of Wales gives Holywell its name.

St Winefride's Well has been an important place of pilgrimage since medieval times and is still venerated today.

Legend has it that in 660AD Caradoc, the son of a local prince, cut off the head of the young Winefride after she had spurned his advances and a spring rose from the ground at the spot where it fell.

According to the story Winefride was later restored to life by her uncle, St Beuno, who was a well-known figure in the 7th century and was responsible for bringing Celtic monasticism to much of North Wales.

The shrine was first mentioned as a place of pilgrimage in 1115 and from 1240 to the dissolution it was part of the possessions of Basingwerk Abbey.

The sacred spot became an important place and was visited by numerous kings and queens in medieval times.

Richard I made the pilgrimage there to pray for the success of his crusade, Henry V made the pilgrimage in 1415 before his victory at Agincourt, as did Edward IV before Towton Moor in 1461.

Henry VII is also thought to have made a secret visit before winning his crown at Bosworth in 1485. James II is also known to have visited the well with his wife Mary of Modena after several failed attempts to produce an heir to the throne and that soon after Mary became pregnant with a son.

The present building that is set into the hillside around the well was built in the late 15th century and was constructed for Margaret Beaufort, Henry VII's mother, to replace an earlier structure.

The building is decorated with a frieze of animals and features the crests of Henry VII and Margaret Beaufort's third husband, Thomas Stanley.

It is an architecturally significant building and the quality of the workmanship suggests that it was probably the work of royal masons.

The holy well is named in the rhyme as one of the Seven Wonders of Wales.