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Archaeology, folklore & myth of Britain's pre-christian sites & heritage: stone circles, holy wells, maypoles, tombs, archaic cosmologies and human consciousness. Everyone welcome - even Southerners!


    ST HELEN'S WELL, Stainland, West Yorkshire

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    Sunbright57

    Join date : 2011-02-10
    Age : 60
    Location : Nelson - the one in Lancashire sorry to say!

    ST HELEN'S WELL, Stainland, West Yorkshire

    Post  Sunbright57 on Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:45 pm

    A holy well that has sometimes been mistaken for St Helen's Well is located at the eastern edge of the village of Stainland at Os grid reference SE.079 196. It is in an area locally called Holywell Green on Station Road, Stainland. But this is a mineral spring which only came in to being in 1843, but may commemorate an earlier well on that site. An inscription on the trough says: 'HOLY WELL Improved 1843'. Two stone posts in front of the trough may have once supported a hand-pump, and the wall behind is probably not the original. In 1977 the well was capped-off when the new housing estate was built - the water being diverted underground. Today, the well basin usually has flowers growing in it.

    However, St Helen's holy well 1km south of here in Jagger Green Lane close to Helen Hill Farm at OS grid reference SE.088 188 is the one we are interested in. This was most probably a preChristian well due to the accompanying saint's name, but during the 12th-13th centuries it became a pilgrimage site. St Elyn's Chapel used to stand close-by, but in recent times this has been converted into a cottage. It is said that a stone built into the chapel wall was part of an old cross - this appears to have disapeared now. It was originally quite a large well structure with three different compartments (basins) - the water flowing into each with what was described as ever flowing or copious amounts of cold, clear water as a curative for various ailments of the body.

    References:-

    Heginbottom, J.A. - Transactions of the Halifax Antiquarian Society 1989.
    Hulse, Tristran-Gray, Source - Holy Wells Journal (first series) issue 3.
    Bull, Malcolm - Calderdale Companion.

    Please Note: The following information has now come to light and comes by courtesy of Kai Roberts. According to J.A. Heginbottom in Transactions of the Halifax Antiquarian Society 1989 "A large rectangular stone cistern is filled by the spring which rises close to the farmhouse". "The cistern has three compartments and is of late 18th or early 19th century character".

    St Helen's Well 'proper' is sited just opposite Helen Hill Farm, Jagger Green Lane, where once stood St Ellen's chapel which is now a cottage. The well is still said to be flowing today. This is 1 km south of Holy Well Green, Stainland, where the other more modern day mineral spring is now considered not the original; it is just an over-glorified flower basin that has been inscribed with the some words pertaining to a "holy well".


    Last edited by Sunbright57 on Fri Apr 01, 2011 9:53 am; edited 7 times in total
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    Kai Roberts

    Join date : 2011-03-15
    Age : 35
    Location : Calderdale

    Re: ST HELEN'S WELL, Stainland, West Yorkshire

    Post  Kai Roberts on Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:00 pm

    Some interesting stuff from a paper called "Early xtian Sites In Calderdale" by J.A. Heginbottom in Transactions of the Halifax Antiquarian Society 1989 which indicates that the well displayed in Holywell Green village (now the glorified flower basin) is not St. Helen's Well at all and was only established in that location in 1843.

    "A large rectangular stone cistern is filled by the spring which rises close to the farmhouse. The cistern has three compartments and is of late 18th or early 19th Century character.

    Surnames in the Stainland area which allude to a holy well are found in various deeds and manor court rolls from 1284. The early foundation and dedication to St. Helen implies a British period origin for the well's veneration. It is perhaps significant that the well is only 1.5km from the Roman fort at Slack. As at many other important holy wells a chantry chapel was founded on the site in the medieval period. A charity inquiry in 1597 recorded 'St. Ellen Chapel, Stainland' as being 'decayed' which indicates that it was abandoned during the suppression of religious endowments earlier that century. In the 18th century besides the well only a house existed at the site.

    John Watson observed that 'It can only just be seen that it was once a place of greater account. In one of the walls of the house they show you a large stone which is called the Cross and is sometimes visited by strangers who at the same time enquire for the well'. These 'strangers' he concluded were Catholic pilgrims, but it is just as likely that they were local people practising their traditional May custom. The local artist John Horner sketched the well in the early 19th Century, an engraving of which in an altered form found its way into a book about holy wells by R.C. Hope.

    Holywell Green is 1km from Helen Hill Farm and has often been put forward as the site of this holy well. The large and imposing but now dry well in the village inscribed "HOLY WELL 1843" has no historical basis for its dedication and is purely fanciful."
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    Sunbright57

    Join date : 2011-02-10
    Age : 60
    Location : Nelson - the one in Lancashire sorry to say!

    St Helen's Well at Stainland

    Post  Sunbright57 on Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:56 pm

    Thank you for that information Kai. There seem to be differing opinions about this site.
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    Kai Roberts

    Join date : 2011-03-15
    Age : 35
    Location : Calderdale

    Re: ST HELEN'S WELL, Stainland, West Yorkshire

    Post  Kai Roberts on Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:06 pm

    Sunbright57 wrote:Thank you for that information Kai. There seem to be differing opinions about this site.
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    Indeed. I hope it is the one at Helen Hill Farm rather than in the village because I gather the former is actually still flowing.
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    Sunbright57

    Join date : 2011-02-10
    Age : 60
    Location : Nelson - the one in Lancashire sorry to say!

    St Helen's Well at Stainland

    Post  Sunbright57 on Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:27 pm

    Ok thanks Kai, no it hasn't spoilt the topic, best to have the true location and details. I have now edited the topic. Thanks for your help. Ray. study


    Last edited by Sunbright57 on Thu Mar 24, 2011 2:30 pm; edited 2 times in total
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    Kai Roberts

    Join date : 2011-03-15
    Age : 35
    Location : Calderdale

    Re: ST HELEN'S WELL, Stainland, West Yorkshire

    Post  Kai Roberts on Thu Mar 24, 2011 2:21 pm

    Sunbright57 wrote:Oh dear, hope you won't find fault with any more of my sites Kai. It does tend to spoil things somewhat. I have heard what you say. Ray. study
    Sorry, just trying to be helpful Embarassed I was similarly mistaken on my blog until recently when I encountered Heginbottom's article. Surely the fact that the well might actually still be flowing makes it better rather than spoiling it?
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    Sunbright57

    Join date : 2011-02-10
    Age : 60
    Location : Nelson - the one in Lancashire sorry to say!

    Saintly Skulls

    Post  Sunbright57 on Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:24 am

    Hi there Kai, are you by any chance a Welshman living a Calderdale - your name would suggest that you are Welsh ? Have read your blog, very interesting. I know the Llanthony area very well - have relatives living at Abergavenny.

    I have long been interested in the saintly skulls of the R.C. martyrs of the 16th-17th century. The Wardley Hall skull (St Ambrose Barlow) and Chingle Hall skull (St John Wall) are just two I can think of at the moment - there are others. There is also the holy hand of St Edmund Arrowsmith at Ashton in Makerfield. Do you know of these and any others in Lancs/Yorks ? Ray.
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    Kai Roberts

    Join date : 2011-03-15
    Age : 35
    Location : Calderdale

    Re: ST HELEN'S WELL, Stainland, West Yorkshire

    Post  Kai Roberts on Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:57 am

    Sunbright57 wrote:Hi there Kai, are you by any chance a Welshman living a Calderdale - your name would suggest that you are Welsh ? Have read your blog, very interesting. I know the Llanthony area very well - have relatives living at Abergavenny.
    I'm not but my name does indeed suggest it! My parents gave me my first name from Arthurian legend and my surname does originally derive from Wales originally. When my dad researched our family tree, I believe he traced us back to Blaenau Ffestiniog in the 18th Century. I visited Llanthony a couple of years ago and found it one of the most serene places I'd ever been.

    I have long been interested in the saintly skulls of the R.C. martyrs of the 16th-17th century. The Wardley Hall skull (St Ambrose Barlow) and Chingle Hall skull (St John Wall) are just two I can think of at the moment - there are others. There is also the holy hand of St Edmund Arrowsmith at Ashton in Makerfield. Do you know of these and any others in Lancs/Yorks ? Ray.
    study
    I don't know if you're familiar with Northern Earth magazine but in the last issue (No. 124) I wrote an article on a hitherto overlooked guardian skull tradition I uncovered at Sowood House in the hamlet of Coley, near Halifax. Although I was unable to establish an origin for the skull, it had all the accompanying supernatural lore characteristic of skulls such as those at Chingle and Wardley.

    It was almost certainly placed in Sowood House when it was constructed in the 17th Century and the family who built the house were known as Royalist sympathisers in the Civil Wars, suggesting they may have been clandestine Catholics. Hence, there is some reason to suspect that it may also have been a relic of the type you describe. Another theory was that it belonged to a victim of the Halifax gibbet.

    I'm going to write it up on my blog, but out of respect for Northern Earth, I'm waiting until the issue in which it is included is no longer "current" and I doubt I'll go into as much detail as I do in the original article. If you're not a subscriber, I recommend grabbing the relevant volume (it's only £1.95!). Otherwise, more details will be up on my blog when I get a chance, although that may not be until I've finished the Robin Hood's grave book.
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    Sunbright57

    Join date : 2011-02-10
    Age : 60
    Location : Nelson - the one in Lancashire sorry to say!

    Saintly skulls

    Post  Sunbright57 on Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:56 pm

    Thank you Kai (or should that be Sir Kai). Yes as you say a very serene place Llanthony; there's another place just up the lane with a ruined monastery at Capel y Ffyn where father Ignatius lived. He was a Benedictine monk who led a saintly life there in the 19th century. Visions of the Virgin Mary are said to have occured in the monastery grounds. Another place I am interested in and always make a point of visiting his Ffynnon Ishow - St Issui's holy well at Patrishow church on the edge of the Black Mountains, both the church and the well are of great interest. My mother gave me a Welsh name too !! Ray.
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    Kai Roberts

    Join date : 2011-03-15
    Age : 35
    Location : Calderdale

    Re: ST HELEN'S WELL, Stainland, West Yorkshire

    Post  Kai Roberts on Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:24 pm

    Sunbright57 wrote:Thank you Kai (or should that be Sir Kai). Yes as you say a very serene place Llanthony; there's another place just up the lane with a ruined monastery at Capel y Ffyn where father Ignatius lived. He was a Benedictine monk who led a saintly life there in the 19th century. Visions of the Virgin Mary are said to have occured in the monastery grounds. Another place I am interested in and always make a point of visiting his Ffynnon Ishow - St Issui's holy well at Patrishow church on the edge of the Black Mountains, both the church and the well are of great interest. My mother gave me a Welsh name too !! Ray.
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    I hadn't heard of the Capel y Ffyn site. It sounds very interesting indeed. Sadly, when I visited Llanthony I was just passing through so didn't have opportunity to explore the area nearly as much as I would like. One day I fully intend to spend some proper time in the Black Mountains and acquaint myself with the region properly.

    Halliwell

    Join date : 2011-04-18

    Re: ST HELEN'S WELL, Stainland, West Yorkshire

    Post  Halliwell on Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:39 pm

    Ray and Kai

    I am very interested in your postings re St Helens Well and really pleased that the well still flows given the housing development

    As you may have guessed by my username, I am a Halliwell (from a Holy Spring or Well). I have traced my ancestors back to Holywell Green and to St Helens Well - the last I have found so far is 1290 Nicholas del Helwel who married the daughter of William of Stainland, the next door village

    Halliwell/Helliwell is a common ish name in Yorkshire and Lancashire. In Yorkshire it is usually Helliwell or Hellawell. In Lancashire it is Halliwell and the folk usually come from Rochdale Oldham and Middleton. The Halliwells/Hellawells aroung the Pennines and North east Manchester/Halifax will have come from this village initially. The Bolton Halliwells are from a town called Halliwell around that way and presumably their local spring

    If you have some more info on this spring I would be delighted to hear it. I have noted your grid reference and will be up there shortly!

    Many thanks

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    Paulus

    Join date : 2009-08-20
    Location : Yorkshire

    Re: ST HELEN'S WELL, Stainland, West Yorkshire

    Post  Paulus on Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:52 pm

    Hi Halliwell! Smile

    We have a number of little known 'Halliwells' scattered about the landscape in and around West and North Yorkshire. One in Baildon, I remember as a kid, has an old haunted road close by, from whence one of our many black dog spirits wandered. There's another Halliwell near Pontefract.... I'll have to dig out my old files and see where the others are. Most of 'em have fallen prey to modern eco-disfigurement programs and their waters channelled away, or just dried up. Small though they seem to some folk, I always see the death of water as a great loss...

    Anyway - nice to have you on board here!

    All the best - Paul
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    Sunbright57

    Join date : 2011-02-10
    Age : 60
    Location : Nelson - the one in Lancashire sorry to say!

    Halliwell

    Post  Sunbright57 on Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:57 pm

    Hi there welcome to the TNA and thanks so much for your comment. Make sure you go to the proper well which is located 1km south of Holywell Green; that one near the housing estate is 19th century and not the real St Helen's Well - just an old water trough with flowers in it though it does have an inscription purporting to be a holy well. The real St Helen's Well is close to Helen Hill Farm. I remember a lad at my boarding school in Rochdale called Halliwell - the surname probably does indeed refer to Halig Well or Holy Well. Cheers. Ray.
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    Halliwell

    Join date : 2011-04-18

    Re: ST HELEN'S WELL, Stainland, West Yorkshire

    Post  Halliwell on Tue Apr 19, 2011 2:00 pm

    Thanks very much for that chaps

    I look forward to my trip to Yorkshire!

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