St Winifred's Well

Woolston, near Oswestry - Sleeps 2

About the property

This tiny building is a miraculous survival, a medieval well chapel. It is built above an ancient and venerated spring that feeds three linked pools, and that is still flowing today.

Dog Beds 1 Double

  • Sleeps2
  • 4 nights from from£141
  • equivalent to £17.63 per person per night

The cult of a 7th-century Welsh princess

Earlier inhabitants and pilgrims no doubt washed in the spring. You can still plunge if you wish, but we have also constructed a detached bathroom a few yards from the former chapel.

St Winifred was a 7th-century Welsh princess, sworn to a life of chastity, who was brought back to life by her uncle St Beuno, after being decapitated by an angry suitor as she fled from him to take refuge in a church. In the 12th century her body was taken to Shrewsbury Abbey, where many pilgrims came to benefit from her healing miracles. St Winifred was much loved in this area, so there is good reason to believe the tradition that this well at Woolston was dedicated to her; a lesser sister to the older and more famous St Winifred’s Well at Holywell in Flintshire.

Whether or not any of this is true, the well here has been venerated for centuries, and is still visited by pilgrims. The innermost of the three pools is the medieval well chamber. The little building above is the medieval well chapel, itself a miraculous survival preserved since the Reformation as a Court House and then as a cottage. Meanwhile, the well itself was enlarged to form a cold bath (your own hot, more private bath is a stone’s throw from the cottage), first for a local squire, and later for the general public, whose conduct became so riotous that it was closed to them in 1755.

Thereafter it returned to nature, whose spirit was probably worshipped here long before Christianity. It is on the edge of a hamlet and hard to find (and sometimes harder to heat), approachable only by public footpath, which runs on, eventually, to a fragment of the old Shropshire Union Canal. Once here, acceptance of the miraculous is easy.

Floor Plan

‘I’m not really ready to leave this small, simple oasis but I suppose life must go on and we are already late.’

From the logbook

Map & local info

Along a short footpath you will arrive at St Winifred’s Well, a secluded spot in the woods, from where a stream runs down the hill through a series of pools.

St Winifred's Well
Woolston, near Oswestry - Sleeps 2
Clear directions

Places to visit nearby

Offa's Dyke

Montgomery Canal

Whittington Castle

Colemere Country Park

Oswestry Transport Museum

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

‘I’m not really ready to leave this small, simple oasis but I suppose life must go on and we are already late.’

From the logbook

Your questions answered

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    Yes.
  • How is the property accessed?

    On foot from the parking area (approximately 90m).
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Gobowen – 6 miles.
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    There is one parking space approximately 90m away at the top of the public path.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There are electric night storage heaters and a solid fuel stove.
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    Fuel may be purchased and delivered under a private arrangement. Further details will be provided with your booking confirmation.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc.
    There is also an electric cooker.

  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There is one bathroom with a bath about 10m from the main building.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    There are no difficult internal stairs.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    There is a garden (not enclosed). Please note the unfenced pond.
    There is a public footpath which passes between the main building and the bathroom.

    Booking and Payment

  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!
  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will advise you as to whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to carry out the changeover then we consider that it is open and available. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, which may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking.

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Is it true there are no televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there lavatory rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide lavatory rolls and a bar of soap, per basin but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.

A late 15th-century timber chapel

St. Winifred's Well consists of two separate elements: the well itself and the little building over it. The spring of clear water has no doubt had a chamber of sorts around it for centuries, but the structures around it surviving today date from the late Middle Ages. What stands today at St. Winifred's Well is a very rare survival of a late 15th-century timber chapel, made all the more precious by its association with the well itself, with pilgrimage and the healing of the sick.

Certainty as to its nature emerged slowly. The building has been a cottage since the early 19th century and in secular use since the early 17th, so that alterations and repairs have occurred. An article by a local historian, Adolphus Dovaston, in 1886, quoting the notes of an 18th-century antiquarian, apparently provided authoritative written evidence conclusively ruling out the existence of a chapel on the site. A holy well there might have been, but the building was put up as a Court-house "over a well made for a bath for the Jones of Sandford". The medieval trusses incorporated in the building were, so argued Mr Dovaston, re-used from West Felton church.

On the other hand, a Survey of the Lordship of Oswestry of 1602 referred to Woolston Chapel; and the previous owner of the Well told of 16th-century graffiti found on the posts of the wing, found when removing old plaster.

It was only as we began to strip down the structure in preparation for its repair that its true nature emerged. First of all it became clear that the two main trusses, with their cusped struts, were not reused from somewhere else. They fitted their position and the rest of the timber frame very happily. All are typical of the late 15th century.

Then the moulded wall plate encircling the building appeared, again confirming this as one integral structure. The presence of an original doorway with decorated lintel at the west end and another door in the south wall for the priest (slightly to the east of the existing doorway) confirmed that this was an ecclesiastical building, not a dwelling. Details at the east end also indicated the existence of a retable, or altar back.

Examination of the frame confirmed that the projecting wing is also part of the original structure. The dressed stone supporting it appears to date from the 17th century and it was thought that the whole wing might therefore be an addition. However, it too has a chamfered wallplate consistent with the dating of the rest of the building, and the entrance to it is clearly marked in the interior of the chapel itself by a more elaborate moulding on the wallplate.

Due to later alterations the position of the original windows is not clear. It is likely that there would have been at least one in the south wall, and more than probable that there would have been at least a small window in the east end to light the altar. The dating of the whole building has since been confirmed by dendrochronology to c.1485.

Examination of the chapel's frame showed that at some period quite early in its history it suffered a period of deterioration and neglect. This would of course fit in well with the history of religious upheaval in the 16th century and with the suppression of pilgrimage and well worship as a result of the Reformation. That the well was still visited is born out, however, by the presence of graffiti of that period.

The history of Woolston's Well after the Reformation is typical of many such buildings, except in its survival. The next phase in fact follows Dovaston's theories quite happily but with the building of a court-house being a repair and re-use of the existing chapel rather than the putting up of a new structure. Many such buildings were put to a secular use at this period and the holding of a manorial court would be entirely in keeping with its long-established local importance.

Evidence of extensive repair in the early 17th century was found throughout the building. The insertion, or rather addition, of a bay window at the east end was no doubt part of this phase, as was the new stonework under the wing, partly no doubt to provide extra support, but also related to the creation of an additional pool.

Dovaston's antiquarian had said that the Court-house stood "over a well made for a bath for the Jones' of Sandford", who were granted the manor in 1613. Again, the adaptation and enlargement of a holy well to form a bath occurred elsewhere, at Ffynnon Fair in Flintshire for example; cold bathing was considered good for the health in the 17th and 18th centuries, so that in effect this was simply a rationalisation of the early belief in the healing qualities of water.

The private bath later became a public bathing place much frequented by local people. Ale houses apparently grew up nearby and no doubt revels and wakes were held there, as at many wells. Such promiscuous behaviour shocked local worthies and in about 1755 the use of the well was suppressed. This may have been the result of a new landlord who came into residence at Sandford in 1757 after a long period of absenteeism. The Court-house continued in use until 1824 after which the chapel was converted to domestic use, in which it has remained until the present day. To this phase in its history belong the inserted chimney and bread oven, the insertion of bricks in the frame instead of the traditional plaster infill and the pigsty which is now the bathroom.

In 1928 the cottage was bought from the farmer who owned it by Rev. Frank Taylor, Vicar of West Felton, who was concerned about its condition. He renewed the roof in about 1930. He used to come and sit at the chapel to read and compose his sermons. In about 1932 he gave St. Winifred's Well to his niece, Mary Taylor, who in 1936 became Mrs Ashby. The Ashbys planted the trees around the building and formed the large pool by damming the stream. They in turn handed the cottage on to their daughter, Margaret Phythian-Adams. She in turn sold it to the Landmark Trust in 1987.

Experience the Landmark

For up to 2 people

This tiny building is a miraculous survival, a medieval well chapel. It is built above an ancient and venerated spring that feeds three linked pools, and that is still flowing today.

Book a stay

More information coming soon.

Experience the Landmark

For up to 2 people

This tiny building is a miraculous survival, a medieval well chapel. It is built above an ancient and venerated spring that feeds three linked pools, and that is still flowing today.

Book a stay

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

QuestionWhat's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.