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  Trethevey Chapel & Holy Well
Tintagel

North Cornwall
NGR: SX 07660 89171
 
Trethevey Chapel
 
On the road between Tintagel and Boscastle is the hamlet of Trethevey. Standing at the heart of this ancient settlement is an interesting group of monuments, including a Roman milestone, a mediæval chapel dedicated to St Piran and a holy well.

The Roman milestone was discovered here in 1919, in use as a gatepost. It stands in the garden of a house called St Piran and permission must be sought to see it. This stone is one of only five Roman milestones found in Cornwall; with another at Tintagel Church it must indicate a maintained Roman trackway (rather than a metalled road) in the neighbourhood. The inscription which reads: C DOMI N GALLO ET VOLUS, ĎFor the Emperor Caesars our lords Gallus and Volusianí, dates the stone to the brief reign of these emperors, in 251-3 AD.

St Piranís Chapel and Well are situated close together in the centre of Trethevey. The present Trethevey chapel is a rebuilt structure on the original foundations of a chapel recorded in 1457 when John Gregory, Vicar of Tintagel, was granted a licence to celebrate Mass there. Despite this late record, the chapel almost certainly had much earlier origins, and according to a strong local tradition recorded by the Revd Canner, a former vicar of Tintagel, it also had a graveyard. The original building was probably converted into a farm building at some point after the Reformation but enough remains to indicate its ecclesiastical origin. A lancet window survives in the east wall, a piscina on the south, and the remains of an oak door frame in the west entrance. The building was restored with simple pitch pine furnishings and a 20th century stone altar, and rededicated as a mission chapel in 1942.

A trefoil window discovered in a local garden wall was presumed to have come from the chapel and a gravestone dated 1707, found in a nearby farmhouse wall, may provide support for the tradition of a graveyard. Tradition also states that the chapel once had stone seating around the walls, whose slate slabs were lifted and used to cap the drains seen beside the lane, below the holy well.

The holy well is a simple pyramidal structure of slate with a small square doorway. In its present form it is unlikely to be mediæval but must sit on the site of an ancient spring. In the 19th century a pump, whose remains can be seen at the back of the building, was inserted into the well-house, to provide a more accessible water supply for the hamlet. A granite cap on top of the wellís roof, surmounted by an iron cross, is of uncertain origin. Some say it may be the remains of a simple early font; others that it might be a corn bushel or a mortar.

Domesday Book records the existence of a manor belonging to St Piranís monastery near Trethevey in 1086, which must explain the dedications of the chapel and holy well, so far from the main places associated with St Piran, in Perranzabuloe in the west of Cornwall.

Sources
Canner, AC, 1982. The Parish of Tintagel: some historical notes.

Meyrick, J, 1982. A Pilgrims Guide to the Holy Wells of Cornwall.
 
 
 
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On the road between Tintagel and Boscastle is the hamlet of Trethevey. Standing at the heart of this ancient settlement is an interesting group of monuments, including a Roman milestone, a mediæval chapel dedicated to St Piran and a holy well.

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Nearby sites

Helsbury Castle
Lanteglos Church
Roughtor Enclosure
 
supported by HLF and compiled by the Historic Environment service of Cornwall Council  
last updated: 07/04/2009