St Mary's Well Ffynnon Fair

St Mary’ Well lies within the grounds of Bodrhyddan Hall, about a mile to the east of Rhuddlan.  The House can trace is history back to Richard Conwy in the 15th century, though much of what is to be seen today is a 19th century refurbishment.  The well of course, is ancient.

Unlike many of the wells to be found in these pages, there is no need to hunt through hedgerow and underbrush to find St Mary’s, since it is easy to find, with a tidy octagonal stone chamber built around it.  There is seating within the chamber and grating on the floor through which many thrown coins can be seen.  The chamber has a carved pelican atop the roof, and was part of the Conwy family heraldic crest.  It is probably a coincidence, of course, but the use of a pelican to decorate a well, is an interesting one, since pelicans were traditionally thought to have sacrificed their own blood to heal their young, and there a small statue of a pelican in St Dyfnog's Church doing just that.  The pelican was also a symbol of Jesus, since He also sacrificed his blood to save the life of mankind.  It has a stone lined bathing pool attached to it, which is picturesque enough.  It is situated just off the main drive as you approach the House.

It is interesting that such effort has gone into making the well such a feature, though it is likely that such emphasis is down to ornamentation, rather than a reflection as to its importance as a possible holy well to those that now own the land it is situated on.  There is no record of any curative features of the well, and it does not feature much in recorded history, apart from a mention by Edward Lhuyd in 1699, who names it as Ffynnon Fair.  There is, however, a reputation that the well was the scene of ‘clandestine’ marriages, although it is unlikely that this means some kind of secret matchmaking, but rather marriages outside of traditional settings.  Today there is a sign which claims it to be a wishing well, which seems fair enough, since all holy wells were such, after a fashion, but to stand by the bathing pool and watch the waters flow through the decorative carved fish head, one can only feel a little as if the point has been missed, a connection lost.

 

The stone chamber bears an inscription attributing the building to the celebrated architect, Inigo Jones in 1612, although the Clwyd Archaeological Trust attributes the building to the late 16th, early 17th centuries.  The House and gardens are currently open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the summer and there is an admission charge.

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