Welsh Journals

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The RUTHIN Illustrated Magazine. A MONTHLY JO0RHAL FOR Ahh CLASSES. To Inform. To Instruct. To Amuse. Ho. 17. Vol. II. JUNE, 1880. TWO PENCE. HOLY WELLS IN AND ABOUT THE VALE OF CLWYD. BY THE RET. ELIAS OWEN, M.A. Ffynnon Fair. This well is about 2i miles from St Asaph. It is in a field close to the river Elwy. The country round is well wooded. The site of the well is secluded and the quiet of the spot, particularly after much railway journeying, is soothing. In the spring of the year, the time when I visited this well, the surrounding scenery, if not graud, is nevertheless so strikiug that it arrests the attention. The glades, the river, the delicate tints of green on the trees, and the variegated meadow colourings, please the eye. The warbling of rival blackhirds, and other sweet songsters merry notes, please the ear. Nature wears a joyful garb in the spring and hope is impressed alike on animate and inanimate things. Many a spring has come and gone since Fynnon Fair was in its prime Generations of throstles have departed since that day, but their descendants still fill the grove with sweet sounds. Butter cups, daises, and forgetmenots of former ages have shed forth their beauties to passers by, but they have still left for me and others a living principle that yearly buds forth afresh. The water of Ffynnon Fair bubbles up now as merrily as ever, but the building erected over it several centuries ago is sadly dilapidated. The well and its surroundings were in the days of Pennant pretty much the same as at present. He writes thus:—" Y Fynnon Vair, or our La.dies well, a fine spring, inclosed in an angular wall, formerly roofed, and the ruins of a cross-shaped chapel, finely over¬ grown with ivy, exhibit a venerable view, in a deep wooded bottom, not remote from the bridge ; and this, in days of pilgrimage, the frequent haunts of devotees." This is a correct description of the well in its present state, so that it has not altered much, if any, during the last hundred years. The chapel stands a short distance from the well, the south transept is said to be about the early parts of the 15th centuery, while the rest is late perpendicular. From Browne Willis we learn that this chapel had " formerly been served by the Vicars of St. Asaph, for the ease of the neighbouring inhabitants." He wrote in 1720. It appears from Piers P.obert's Diary, which has lately been published, that clandestine and other marriages ware formerly celebrated in the chapel. He gives a list of such marriages as came under his notice. The well consists of two parts—the one, a cistern for bathing, is separated from the other ny a wall, and this lias steps descending into it—the other seems to have have been a Baptistery. The whole is a square with three sides formed into angles, and tuere- from at each point formerly sprung shafts which probably supported a canopy as is the case at Holywell. The ruins of the building over the well, and fchft remains of the chapel, have lately been saved from further demolition by enclosing the wholo with substantial iron railings. The enclosure is planted with ornamental trees. Just outsi.ie the portion of ground railed off, where the water escapes towards the river, is a large pond overgrown with water cress, and therein ii an oblong stone with a large circular hole resembling the stones in Cornwall, ealle.l Dolmaen i.e. Twllmaen. It is not unlikely that this stone is the only remains of a wall that once surrounded a large bath, and that the water escaped therefrom through this hole. Thus there would be in connection with the chapel two wells for bathing purposes frequented at the samo time, or it may be, that one was used as a Baptistery and the other as a bath, or that the one noff alluded to was the older and mora anciently used well. It appears that the well was formerly used for baptismal purposes. It forms the subject of Mrs. He-mans' poem on " Our Lady's Woll." (To be continued.)