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HER Number:MDV4873
Name:St. Ann's Well south of Holwell Farm


Medieval holy well known at St. Ann's Well situated to the south of Holwell Farm


Grid Reference:SX 664 473
Map Sheet:SX64NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBigbury
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishBIGBURY

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 440958
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX64NE/8
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II): 99613
  • Old SAM Ref: 33752
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SX64NE4

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • HOLY WELL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

'Holy Well' shown on 19th century map in the eastern corner of a field to the south of 'Holwell' farmstead.

Ordnance Survey, 1904 - 1906, Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map (Cartographic). SDV325644.

'Holy Well' shown as a small circular feature also labelled 'W' on early 20th century map. A further well is shown as 'W' to the north-west.

Gover, J. E. B. + Mawer, A. + Stenton, F. M., 1931, The Place-Names of Devon: Part One, 268 (Monograph). SDV1312.

Holwell was mentioned as 'Haelwille' in 1242 which probably meaning 'holy well'.

Brown, T., 1957, Holy and Notable Wells of Devon, 209 (Article in Serial). SDV304810.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1958, SX64NE4 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV140510.

Holy Well, by St. Anne's chapel. A rectangular shaped well of 1.2 metres by 0.9 metres. Lined with concrete to a depth of 0.46 metres.

Finberg, H. P. R., 1969, Westcountry Historical Studies, 14 (Monograph). SDV140512.

It could be the spring at "Heott's Ditch" referred to as a boundary mark in a Royal Charter of AD846.

Ordnance Survey, 1986, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV140513.

This well and its near neighbour are both depicted on the Ordnance Survey 1:2500 plan dated 1974 and lie in a narrow valley adjacent to Holywell Farm. Both wells are covered by concrete slabs and their water is piped away. They lie under bramble and scrub in a neglected corner of a field.

Hooke, D., 1990, Studies on Devon Charter Boundaries, 205 (Article in Serial). SDV140514.

Identified by Potter as the 'Thaere Flodan' (intermittent spring) referred to as a boundary mark in the AD847 South Hams charter.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2001, Medieval Holy Well known as St Ann's Well, 120 metres south of Holwell Farm (Schedule Document). SDV140515.

remains of a Medieval holy well known as St. Ann's Well, 120 metres south of Holwell Farm. The site appears as a marshy depression in field corner which is 43 metres east-west by 58 metres north-south. A scarp into hillside on the west side is up to 2 metres high. The depression now contains two concrete tanks. The southern is built within a sunken stone-walled enclosure, built around a natural spring. Brick steps originally led down into the water on its west side, but these have now been covered. Water from this sunken reservoir still flows to a well head on north-west side of farm track. The well head consists of a recess 0.38 metres deep in a stone rubble wall, at the foot of which a stone spout discharges water from a hole in the wall into a small 19th century Welsh slate trough, 0.95 metres by 0.5 metres by at least 0.15 metres deep. The wall continues to the north, curving round to form a gatepost beside the north concrete tank. The two tanks are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath is included. Holy wells are water sources with specifically Christian associations and date from as early as the 6th century. This well, dedicated to St Ann, is an unusual survival. Its design, with a sunken reservoir, spilling out via a conduit in the side, is typical of wells whose waters were believed to have healing powers. This is supported by the presence of the 15th century chapel of St Ann, 200 metres to the south-west. The area covered by the scheduling has the potential for undisturbed or waterlogged remains associated with the veneration of the well. A few examples of holy wells lie close to Prehistoric ritual monuments. A Neolithic long barrow and two Bronze Age round barrows lie 400 metres to the south-east of the well. The proximity of these barrows suggests continuity of a more ancient tradition of veneration in the area. Other details: Monument 33752.

National Monuments Record, 2011, 440958 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV346285.

The site of a holy well mentioned in 1242 and possibly the spring referred to in a Saxon Charter of AD 846. The site appears as marshy depression in the corner of a field near Holwell Farm.

English Heritage, 2011, Historic Houses Register (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV346128.

St Anns Well circa 70 metres south of Holwell Farm was Listed on 25th January 1990. It is a holy well established in the Middle Ages, but the surviving structure is later 19th century. Built of stone rubble with some yellow brick to the steps. Remains of a small walled enclosure, with some brick steps down to water level on west end; the whole considerably overgrown and the outlines difficult to establish. A characteristic survival always referred to as the Holy Well, and giving the name to the adjacent Holwell Farm. it is still a spring source of fresh water. Other details: LBS Number 99613.

Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.

'Holy Well' shown on modern mapping.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV1312Monograph: Gover, J. E. B. + Mawer, A. + Stenton, F. M.. 1931. The Place-Names of Devon: Part One. The Place-Names of Devon: Part One. VIII. A5 Hardback. 268.
SDV140510Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1958. SX64NE4. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV140512Monograph: Finberg, H. P. R.. 1969. Westcountry Historical Studies. Westcountry Historical Studies. A5 Hardback. 14.
SDV140513Personal Comment: Ordnance Survey. 1986.
SDV140514Article in Serial: Hooke, D.. 1990. Studies on Devon Charter Boundaries. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 122. A5 Paperback. 205.
SDV140515Schedule Document: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2001. Medieval Holy Well known as St Ann's Well, 120 metres south of Holwell Farm. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
SDV304810Article in Serial: Brown, T.. 1957. Holy and Notable Wells of Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 89. A5 Hardback. 209.
SDV325644Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1904 - 1906. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #93280 ]
SDV346128List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: English Heritage. 2011. Historic Houses Register. Historic Houses Register. Website.
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital).
SDV346285National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. 2011. 440958. National Monuments Record Database. Website.

Associated Monuments

MDV4872Related to: The Old Chapel Inn (Building)
MDV36061Related to: WELL in the Parish of Bigbury (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Jan 17 2011 3:06PM