MDE1210 - Holy Well, Barcombe Down (Monument)


A holy well believed to be of medieval date, attributed with ascribed curative powers for eye complaints. During the nineteenth century it was the site of annual revels on Ascension Day. The site of a chapel, said to lie 100 yards below the well, is no longer visible.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

[SS 76583136] Holy Well (NR) (1) Reputed to have had healing properties for the eyes. A revel used to be held at the spot annually. It now serves as a water supply for South Molton. (2) A Spring, which is surrounded by marsh, issues at SS 76573136, but there is no trace of masonry or the 2.0 metre square ? trough shown on the OS 25". (3) The NGR cited by Source 3 falls at the foot of a steep natural slope. The area is marshy and overgrown, and the trough referred to by Source 3 could not be located. Access to the well was from the south, where a terraced track leads from an area of amorphous platforms (see below) along the steep slope to the area of the NGR. Annett (4) refers to the well thus: "the three kerb stones which once surrounded the top [of the well] may still be felt beneath a thick layer of mud." The well was ascribed curative powers associated with the eyes, and throughout the 19th century and up to the First World War was visited by pilgrims on Maundy Thursday and Ascension Day. "Holy Well Revels were held annually on Ascension Day, when in the only flat field below the spring, a fair was held, together with sports and dancing. Many stalls were erected, shooting galleries and swing boats..."An area of amorphous scarps and platforms centred at SS 76523126 may be associated with quarrying activity or with the revel. Annett (4) also refers to a chapel "one hundred yards downstream from the well", which no longer survives (see SS 73 SE 30). (5)

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. Various. Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date) . OS 6" 1962.
  • <2> Serial: Devonshire Association. 1862 -. Devonshire Association reports and transactions.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Field Investigators Comments. F1 MJF 07-MAR-73.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Eardley-Wilmot, H.. 1981. Worksheet in Devon HER. Annett, N "North Molton and its People" Vol 2 (Undated and unpaginated, copy in North Devon Record .
  • <6> Unpublished document: Eardley-Wilmot, H.. 1981. Worksheet in Devon HER. Wilson-North, WR & Chapman,H 22-Feb-1995 RCHME Field Investigation.



Grid reference SS 7657 3135 (point)
Map sheet SS73SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (3)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 73 SE3
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 35074

Record last edited

Oct 30 2008 3:09PM


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