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Madron Holy Well

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Madron Holy well


Madron holy well is probably the most famous well in Cornwall.

It is signposted off the Madron to Lanyon road; Ĺ mile west of Madron village, there you will find a little car park which will hold about 6 to 8 cars.


Once out of the car there is a short walk down a winding path and you pass an old Cornish stiles, you then walk through a densely woods area of small overhanging trees. The hedges here are full of wild flowers, the fox gloves which are abundant at this time of year; it gave the hedges a warm glow. This is a wonderful time of the year, it was the beginning of May and in the druid calendar, that is Beltane, a time of rebirth, when everything is growing, it was enchanting.


A new gravel path had recently been built by the local council, this was so people didn’t have to trudge through mud, and at the end of this path was the well with its two granite steps leading you down to the well and its healing waters. It wasn’t always like this I remember not so long ago, what an endurance test it was, you would have to go down to the well with waterproof trousers and rubber boots, but now thanks to the council you could walk there in your slippers.


Walking down the steps, to the well, you will notice rags and artefacts hanging in the trees, these are known as clouties.. Clouties are rags tied to the trees as prayer offerings. They are cut or torn from the clothes of the sick and ailing, as the rag naturally disintegrates, so healing takes place.


Let me tell you a little about St. Madrons well. St. Madron was said to have been a hermit in Brittany with Cornish decent. He was The Patron Saint of Cures and from Protection against Pain, his feast day is on the 17th of May. We don’t know his date of birth, but it is written that he died around C.540 AD


Madron well was also much famed for its healing powers. People would come to both the well and to the chapel seeking cures for ailments like skin diseases, shingles, aches, pains, and other crippling diseases. Mothers would bring their sickly children to the well on the first three Wednesdays (or Sundays) in May, that is known as Beltane and plunge them naked into the water three times whilst standing facing the sun. The children would then be passed around the well nine times from east to west, dressed and left to sleep on a grassy hillock next to the well, this is known as St. Maderne's Bed. The entire ritual had to be performed in absolute silence and, before leaving, a piece of the child's clothing would be tied to a nearby tree as a thanksgiving. The timing of the rituals around the Pagan festival of Beltane and the importance of the number three indicates a long tradition of worship and use of the waters here.

One of the most famous stories of healing took place here, an account which was confirmed by the then Bishop of Exeter no less, concerns a crippled man named John Trelille. John was twenty eight when he came to Madron well, having been paralysed from the waist down for some sixteen years. John bathed in the waters on the first three Thursdays in May, each time sleeping on St. Maderne's Bed afterwards. By the third week he was miraculously cured of his paralysis and able to find work as a labourer.


Another superstition that is told of Madron well, if you were a loving couple you would make a cross out of a wheat or barley sheaves, and then put it into the water, if it sank quickly, then it would be a quick wedding, and a blissful        life together. Another story was to throw two pebbles into the water if they sank and hit the bottom of the well at the same time, and then this would be a good omen and the sign of a long and happy relationship.


I have no doubt at all, these waters are magical, and there is something Godly about the holy wells of England, in actual fact there is something Godly about all the holy wells and springs of the world. I have recently come back from Lourdes in France, and I will say, I think that Madron holy well is on the same plane as Lourdes. The water is magical.


Where, I ask you say does all this magical power come from. We may never find this out, but, I have always believed that it is holy and god given, but also my druid faith tells me that it has something very powerful to do with the old religion, mother earth, and lay lines, of which there are at Madron, I’m sure angels visit these waters, spirits also and definitely the pixies, and little people, they tend and look after the well and its magical water.

I hear you saying to yourselves what the procedure at these holy wells is. Well there isn’t any rule or a set routine, that part is up to you. One thing I will say is bless yourself, take your shoes and socks off and walk in the water, scoop a handful of water up, and then wash yourself. Don’t be scared to take a bottle full home, this is magical water don’t forget; put some on your garden. It may help the plants grow; put a bottle on the mantelpiece it might bring magic into the house.

 I must say one thing, don’t drink the water; unlike Lourdes the water at Madron is not purified, but leave your aura walk around touch the stones touch the chapel, pray, the more people that leave their auras, the more magical these sights become.


A short distance away is the ruined well-chapel which has been dated to the fourteenth century, but is likely to have even earlier foundations. The building measures 7 metres by 5 metres and is now roofless, although it may never have sported a roof. Ivy and wild roses creep over the walls and ferns grow from between the granite blocks. Spring water from the well, is fed into a stone basin in one corner, a low altar stone can be seen against the eastern wall and stone seats line the walls. There are still services held here at different times of the year, they could be Christian or pagan. I know a lady who has been christened in that chapel.

 I myself have been to the chapel to help in a pagan peace ritual with 18 witches, I remember that night, we had a massive storm, and didn’t we get wet.

It would be nice, if one day the council could build a protective roof over the chapel, like they have done at the holy well at Constantine bay, St Merryn to protect it from the elements, and give people a little protection, from our inclement weather. One other thing I must mention if you are planning a visit to the well, take the time to visit Lanyon Quoit, an ancient burial mound and the MÍn-an-Tol, this is a healing stone both these sites are said to have been built 3 to 4 thousand years ago, around the bronze age.

God bless everyone.