Holy Wells: Cornwall
Sacred wells have played an important part in the culture and landscape of Cornwall for several millennia, and continue to do so. Holy Wells: Cornwall is a collection of beautiful colour photographs of forty-five of the most important and pre-eminent wells in the county, accompanied by an informative text about the history and legends associated with them, and a number of poems celebrating them by Robert Southey, Arthur Quiller Couch and others.
Like Wales and Ireland, Cornwall was an influential centre for the Celtic church and pagan places of worship were taken over by Christianity. Many Celtic saints – St Piran, St Euny, St Nonna, St David, St Mary, St Cuby, St Anne, St Sampson – are referenced in the names of churches and wells which stand in towns and villages, alone on moorland next to stone circles and iron age settlements, hidden in valleys and even in sea caves. Phil Cope takes the reader on a journey of discovery through densely wooded terrain, past bare tors, into ancient churches and along almost forgotten road and tracks, to lead us to special places of wonder and enrichment.
Holy Wells: Cornwall includes over 150 photographs, together with a map, bibliography and index.
Review from Tavistock Times
These half hidden and half-forgotten landmarks are the subject of a new book by Phil Cope, a photographic journey of Holy Wells from the wild, windswept Penwith peninsula to the sheer, Atlantic defying cliff-face at Morwenstow in North Cornwall. In between, at the delightfully named Menacuddle, near St Austell, is St Guidel Well where, in the early 19th century, according to a contemporary report, 'weakly children were carried thither to be bathed, ulcers have also been washed in its sacres water, and people, in seasons of sickness, have been recommended by the neighbouring matrons to drink of its salubrious fluid'. But it is not just enhancing and enticing wells that make this book a gem - Phil Cope is rightly praised as being 'a genius with a camera'. Photographs, such as that taken inside the well chapel at St Clether, near Launceston have a timeless beauty that evoke the mystical past of these fascinating structures. Colin Brent, Tavistock Times, November 2010
Review from Western Morning News
With enthusiasm and learning, Phil takes the reader on a journey of discovery to these scattered sites, pushing through dense woodland, wading into heather and bracken, climbing over bare tors, peeping into ancient churches and striding along out-of-the-way tracks and paths. Holy Wells Cornwall is full of similarly enlightening tales, but despite this the book is a pleasure even without reading a single word. With page after page of evocative images, it is a feast for anyone interested in Cornwall's history. However, enjoyable though this may be, after an hour in the armchair it's time to reach for coat and boots and head off on a quest. My nearest holy well, though like many parts of Cornwall there are several contenders, is St Melor's in the parish of Linkinhorne. Sitting at the bottom of a steep field, the spring is difficult to find and to access. Built from blocks of cut granite, the present structure dates from the 15th century, though a place of worship existed there long before that. With a small niche to hold the good saint's effigy or relic, it is tempting to imagine the many pilgrims who passed this way over the generations. St Melor's holy well is a peaceful place, untroubled by modern life, with only the sounds of nature... until Phil Cope turns up to shatter the illusion. this is devon.co.uk Feb 2011
Review by FfynhonnauCymru
In 2008, Phil Cope, who is a member of the Welsh Wells Society, published an excellent book, Holy Wells: Wales (220 pages long), which was printed by Seren of Bridgend. This is a book which would adorn any bookshelf and in it there are some outstanding photographs of some of the most important wells with map references for each one. The price of the book is £20. The photographs are truly amazing and Phil has managed to visit some wells that nobody else has had the privilege to do so. The photographs are a very important record of the past which should be treasured for the future. Now Phil had journeyed through Cornwall and in his book, Holy Wells: Cornwall (250 pages price £20), he describes the locations of the wells and offers a number of photographs of each one.
It is interesting to compare the architecture of these wells with those that we have here in Wales. There are those which only have plain stones surrounding them but some which, more often than not, boast hewn stones over the source. It is evident that the Cornish people respect and care for their Holy Wells much better than we do and take advantage of them to attract visitors and raise the wells' status. Our Celtic cousins in Ireland do the same thing. Isn't it time that we in Wales woke up to the importance and wealth of hour heritage before it's too late?