Trethevey Chapel and Holy Well
Introduction to site
St Piran’s Chapel and Well are situated close together in the centre of Trethevey. The present Trethevey chapel is a rebuilt structure on the original foundations of a chapel recorded in 1457 when John Gregory, Vicar of Tintagel, was granted a licence to celebrate Mass there. Despite this late record, the chapel almost certainly had much earlier origins, and according to a strong local tradition recorded by the Revd Canner, a former vicar of Tintagel, it also had a graveyard.
The holy well is a simple pyramidal structure of slate with a small square doorway. In its present form it is unlikely to be mediæval but must sit on the site of an ancient spring.
Access and Facilities
On the B3263 road between Tintagel and Boscastle is the hamlet of Trethevey. The site stands at the heart of this ancient settlement, following a track signposted to the Waterfall.
There is off-road and on-road car parking possible at Trethevey, where permitted.
There are bus services to Trethevey, with the bus stop opposite the track signposted 'Waterfall' that leads to the chapel. Visit the Traveline website for customised sustainable transport options.
The site is free to visit, and is open any reasonable time in daylight hours.
View our interactive Access to Monuments map to find this and other nearby sites.
The original building was probably converted into a farm building at some point after the Reformation but enough remains to indicate its ecclesiastical origin. A lancet window survives in the east wall, a piscina on the south, and the remains of an oak door frame in the west entrance. The building was restored with simple pitch pine furnishings and a 20th century stone altar, and rededicated as a mission chapel in 1942.
A trefoil window discovered in a local garden wall was presumed to have come from the chapel and a gravestone dated 1707, found in a nearby farmhouse wall, may provide support for the tradition of a graveyard. Tradition also states that the chapel once had stone seating around the walls, whose slate slabs were lifted and used to cap the drains seen beside the lane, below the holy well.
In the 19th century a pump, whose remains can be seen at the back of the well building, was inserted into the well-house, to provide a more accessible water supply for the hamlet. A granite cap on top of the well’s roof, surmounted by an iron cross, is of uncertain origin. Some say it may be the remains of a simple early font; others that it might be a corn bushel or a mortar.
The Domesday Book records the existence of a manor belonging to St Piran’s monastery near Trethevey in 1086, which must explain the dedications of the chapel and holy well, so far from the main places associated with St Piran, in Perranzabuloe in the west of Cornwall.
- Canner, AC, 1982. The Parish of Tintagel: some historical notes.
- Meyrick, J, 1982. A Pilgrims Guide to the Holy Wells of Cornwall.