Well Hopper

Exploring the ancient holy wells and healing wells of North Wales

Ffynnon Newydd, Llanrwst

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It was a case of so near and yet so far in our search for Ffynnon Newydd. The only information we had when we set off was a copy of the OS map showing the location and a copy of the Royal Commission description which states that it is (or at least has been)

“a stone enclosure 15ft square, the walls of which rise to a height of 12feet and covered by a  ruinous slate roof. Seven steps lead down to the water which is about a foot in depth. Adjoining the well is a  dressing room of the same length as the well chamber, about 9ft broad. and with ethe roof continued over. The whole probably belongs to the end of the  17th century and was doubtless erected by one ofr the prosperous families of the neighbourhood, but no tradition concerning it seems to have survived. Its present name suggests it was freshly built or rebuilt about that period.”  [1]

Unfortunately when we arrived, after a very long journey, we discovered that it was actually in the back garden of a farmhouse.

Nothing daunted, we applied to the owner for permission to visit the well, but this was refused, and the summary terms in which the refusal was issued appeared to preclude any opportunity to negotiate a more suitable alternative time to visit.

Wellhopper, though disappointed, always respects the need to treat sites we visit with care and the landowners right to privacy. No one, even those with an historic monument occupying half their back garden, should be required to allow every Tom, Dick or Harry to come walking up to their gate on a Sunday afternoon expecting a free guided tour. But then again, it would be nice to think that those who have custodianship of such ancient monuments would  be prepared to negotiate access for people who have a genuine  interest, so  we would welcome the opportunity to return, even if it were under the proviso of no photography.

We did comply with a request to delete the one photograph we took of the site from a viewpoint on a nearby public footpath.

For the record,  the well remains in  existance and appears to be a substantial feature, may be two or three courses of stonework high, though certainly no longer the 12 feet high described in the Royal Commission record and the slate roof referred to no longer appears to exist. Whether or not there is water in it we couldn’t determine.

There appears to be very little information around concerning this well. There doesn’t seem to be any indication that it had any religious significance, although Jones assumes that it must have had some healing powers at some time.. Its scale and layout reminds me most of sites such as Ffynnon Wen near Henllan, and may have been some form of  bathing pool, although I’m not sure for whose use it would have been in this case.  It isn’t clear whether in this case the spring is actually sinside the bath, or whether, like at Henllan the bath is filled from a nearby spring.

The location of the well  appears relatively clearly on the satellite photos on google maps, although no detail is visible.

[1] An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Wales and Monmouthshire. Vol 4 – Denbighshire. Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments 1914.

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