A Dream of Holywell

by Alan Cleaver

As my friends and I walked round the grotto at Holywell, near Flint, the memory of the dream I had nearly a year before suddenly came flooding back to me. It was identical – the people, the location, everything. My dream had literally come true. But the shock of realising I had dreamt this moment nearly a year before was pushed to the back of my mind by an even more startling idea: since I was now in the dream I had in September 1985, could I signal to the Alan Cleaver asleep in bed 200 miles away and nearly a year ago?

Holy wells and springs have often had psychic phenomena or miracles associated with them – ghosts, visions, healings and so forth. St Winefride’s Well at Holywell, Flint is one of Britain’s most famous wells (one of the seven wonders of Wales) and has a number of legends and miracles associated with it. The well is principally famed for its healing waters and thousands of visitors a year still go to the well, many hoping for cures for various ailments. The well has been a place of worship for centuries, despite opposition from the authorities at various times during its history.

It is intriguing to speculate that the influence of the well continues today and perhaps inspired my premonition of visiting the well with friends. But even the most ‘belief-orientated’ researcher would be stretching his imagination to promote that idea. Suffice to say I did have a dream seemingly of the well on the morning of Saturday September 28th 1985. Here are my diary notes made the next morning:

‘This morning I had a dream about a holy well. The well (really a spring) had a stone building over it. Inside it was rather barren and divided into two by a wall. In each half was a stone trough filled with flowing water from the spring. I was with a group of people and it was pointed out that the real well was at the back of the building. We walked around the back and there was water flowing from the ground. It seemed to be coming out of a hole in the wall. There were flowers around it and guinea pigs.

There was concern over a child who had been killed – I think by being beheaded or the throat cut – but then it was announced that the child was still miraculously alive. I cannot remember who was there except one person: Gaynor Sunderland, who seemed to be a close friend rather than the vague acquaintance she is. I don’t know the location of the well. The dream appeared to be in colour.’

I should explain that I don’t normally remember my dreams upon awaking. The few times I have remembered them they have been dreams that later came true (a football result, a car accident and so on). Therefore whenever I remember a dream I write it down. Sadly I only recall about two dreams a year.

Gaynor Sunderland was one of the participants in the ‘Green Stone’ affair, a true story of psychic questing which I had investigated when working as a journalist for Psychic News. I had met her only briefly once during 1983. However, several months after the dream I once again met up with Gaynor and her mother Marion. We immediately struck up a rapport and have become close friends. On my first trip to their North Wales home we decided to visit Holywell. Also with us were John Merron, Caroline Wise and Boyd Lees from London. At the well I reflected on how we had become such good friends and it was them the memory of the September 1985 dream came back to me. It seemed to fit well but not the story of the girl who had been beheaded then revived. However, Marion explained to me the legend of St Winefride: ‘She was decapitated at Holywell by a persistent suitor. The severed head was replaced by St Beuno who breathed new life into the girl and the famous holy well has developed from the spring which flowed where the head fell’ [1]. I was amazed.

Although the physical structure of the building was not exactly as I had seen it in my dream it was symbolically the same; there is a main pool in front but the true well is set back inside the grotto. But what of the guinea pigs? It was only on a second visit to the well I found what this may have referred to; carved around the grotto are a number of small animals.

It was all very intriguing but, sadly, looked at in a cool scientific manner, it is not statistically significant enough to count as a premonition. Premonitions have to be logged in advance and above chance. I knew of Gaynor and it was quite likely I would meet her on several occasions in the future. The nearest tourist spot to her home is Holywell. So if I ever visited her, we would be likely to go there. Further, on my bookshelf is Janet and Colin Bord’s book Sacred Waters which includes details of the well and the legend; I may not have consciously remembered the details but they could have been in my subconscious. On a personal level the only convincing aspect of the dream was the strong feeling of friendship that came over in the dream and which I could not have guessed at consciously or subconsciously.

But back to Holywell. There we were, discussing the dream I had a year before, seemingly of the time and event we were now experiencing. Could, therefore, we communicate back to the Alan Cleaver having the dream? It was a bizarre idea, but there was nothing to lose. We wrote on the stone floor, with water, the word ‘Bag’, which we randomly chose as a code word, and I waved frantically in the air as if to someone looking onto the scene. I reasoned that if we were successful then when I got home I would find in my diary a reference to a ‘bag’ connected with the dream which I could not at that moment consciously recall. Sadly there was no such reference in my diary. The experiment had apparently failed… or had it?

Researcher Clive Harper pointed out to me a few days later that when Alan Cleaver woke up the morning after the dream he was impressed to remember it and write it down. Was this because the people in the dream had signalled to him that it was important?




1. Bord, J. & C., (1985); Sacred Waters – Holy Wells and Water Lore in Britain and Ireland. Paladin: London

Text © Alan Cleaver (1988)

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