Holy Wells
Holy Wells information
A Holy Well Holiday
St Winifred's Well at Woolston is owned by the Landmark Trust, the organisation that buys run-down historic properties, does them up, and then lets them out as holiday residences. The Trust's portfolio runs to castles and great emparked mansions, so this is one of its humbler possessions. I went to stay for four nights in October 2007, and really enjoyed myself.
Holy Wells Top Ten
'One of the most moving of England's holy wells', says Pevsner of Woolston, and certainly one of the best. You approach down a little sheltered path and find the well and its baths and pools below it, topped by the cottage. It was the reconstruction by the Landmark Trust in the late 1980s which confirmed finally that the building did indeed date to the late 1400s and was almost certainly originally a chapel before becoming a 'Court House' and finally a dwelling. The building was very run-down by the end of the 1800s, until rescued by the Rector who bought and restored it. The family to whom he passed it then planted the garden and trees around (before then the well had stood in an open field) and formed the bottom pool. Pilgrims still come to the well in some numbers - on Easter Monday this year the couple staying in the cottage were woken by a crowd of some three dozen visitors from Orthodox churches in Chester, Shrewsbury and Telford, led by two priests, who proceeded to wade into the water and chant as only the Orthodox can. I was out most of the daytime during my stay, and didn't spot any signs of pilgrim activity. St Winifred's Well from the northeast
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St Winifred's Well from the southwestSt Winifred's Well inside - the east endSt Winifred's Well inside - the west end
The cottage has essentially two rooms - the bed-sitting room you can see in the photographs here, and a little kitchen in the overhanging extension which  looks out over the well. As the Trust admit, there was no likelihood of fitting a bathroom and loo in the cottage, so they built a little outhouse on the other side of the path.
St Winifred's Well - the log bookAll Landmark properties have log books in which guests are encouraged to write comments on their stay, and some sojourners at the Well take this very seriously. The entry of Mrs Nicholson, one of the early guests back in 1991, is read by virtually everyone who stays, fascinated by its 8 copperplate pages detailing her adventures. These included defacing the noticeboards of local churches which dared to hold non-Prayer Book services, and driving off a group of visitors to the Well with the information that 'This is not bloody Longleat, so bugger off'. Others leave meticulous drawings, write in runic and cuneiform, and compose music in honour of St Winifred. 
In short, I had a lovely time - in
common with the vast majority
of people who've stayed here in
the wilds of Shropshire. There
are more photographs of the
Well in its article on
megalithic.co.uk - click
St Winifred's Well - the log book