About St Winefride's Shrine & Well

Accounts vary in detail about the story of St Winefride but the main features of the legend are as follows...

Winefride (Gwenffrewi) was the daughter of a local prince named Tyfid and his wife Gwenlo.
Her uncle was St. Beuno.
One day, around the year 630, Caradoc, a chieftain from Hawarden attempted to seduce Winefride. She ran from him towards the church which had been built by her uncle. Caradoc pursued her and cut off her head. In the place where her head fell, a spring of water came up. St. Beuno came out from the church, took up her head and placed it back on her body. He then prayed over her and she was restored to life. A white scar encircled her neck, witness to her martyrdom. Caradoc sank to the ground and was never seen again.
Winefride became a nun and, after her uncle’s departure from Holywell for the Monastery of Clynnog Fawr, joined a community at Gwytherin where she became the Abbess. She died there some 22 years later.

Whatever the exact truth of her legend, Winefride herself was real rather than legendary, and the extraordinary and enduring personality of this 7th-century Welsh woman has meant that she has been venerated as a saint ever since the moment of her death. Since that time, too, her Well at Holywell has been a place of pilgrimage and healing – the only such place in Britain with a continuous history of public pilgrimage for over 13 centuries.

The present Shrine building is a glorious 2-storey Late Perpendicular Gothic building erected in the first years of the 16th century and is unique in the world. It is a Grade I Listed Building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.


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