Cornwall is a great county for those who hanker for the romance of ancient times, where ancient megalithic remains abound, old chapels and churches are found around every corner and every parish has their Holy Well. I am sure like me that their fascination in holy wells begun with a trip to Cornwall, where quaint picturesque stone well houses cover gurgling ancient spring heads whose name puts once in touch with those ancient evangelical times of the post Roman period. One such romantic well is that of Treloy near Newquay The site lay on private land and so I called at the farm house, the upstairs window swung open and an elderly lady appeared. I expressed my interest in visiting and she waved me on with permission given some rough directions to where I needed to go…mainly downhill into the wall. Of the site Quiller Couch (1895), although no name is given:
“At the top of Treskeys hill, in an orchard known as Treloy orchard, is a fairly celebrated holy well, in good preservation and much resorted to by artists and other visitors. No one appears to remember that it ever possessed any saintly name, or that there were any particular legends or ancient ceremonies connected with it. Some suggest that in addition to supplying water to the Arundells, whose property it was, it also supplied it to the monks at Rialton, but this seems rather improbable, considering the monks possessed a well close at hand in their own courtyard at the priory. The water is considered particularly good and never failing; the building over it is of fair size with stone seats. Although nothing is remembered of its holy origin, its sanctity has always been a thing taken for granted; and the fact that a chapel once stood near it seems sufficient to dismiss all doubt on the subject.”
Interestingly by Lane Davies (1970) time a name had been found. But sadly he noted that when visited in the early 1950s was difficult to reach and when he finally succeeded found a site of devastation, The destruction of the well being caused by an apple tree and in its wake it was difficult to work out what the site looked like, with stones lying all around. Fortunately, its restoration by Old Cornwall Society in it in 1953 and they did a fantastic job, revealing the old benches being in the process that a visit now would not reveal any evidence of dereliction with. The well consists of a small chapel pitched roof edifice, the spring following into a large rectangular channel full of water cress. St Peter or St Petroc?
In the vicinity of the well was a Chapel in 1283, noted by Hals in 1700 but no trace of it exists bar some possible some sections of stone work around the site. The moor below the well is called Pedyr moor and this presumably comes from the well or chapel. This has left historians to guess what the dedication of the well was, St Petroc and possibly St. Piran are suggested but St Peter appears to be the most obvious. But just because the moor had this dedication does not mean it the same as the well.
Noted for cures
As Quiller-Couch notes it was much frequented, Lane-Daves (1970) notes that the well was much frequented for its ability to cure sickness. Stratton parish records state that
“Gave to Grace Chinge to goe to the water by Lower St Cullome to seek help for her legge 5s. Gave the same time to Andrew Heddon towards the going to the well to seek help for his legg 5s. Pid forthehorse for her to ride there 6s”
Interestingly, this is one of the few wells whose attendance was supported post reformation. Today its visitors are fewer perhaps, bar the curious and those seeking rest and peace…and leave their ribbons or cloutties which appear to have festooned the trees around.