St Clether Holy Well and Chapel, Cornwall, UK
Location SX203 847
St Clether's holy well and chapel is worth visiting. It's one of the most beautifully situated and preserved sites in Cornwall, UK. The short walk in across moorland adjacent to the River Inney is a beautiful way to experience the remoteness and isolation of the spot. The grassy path which leads from the parish churchyard across open land gives wide ranging views of the bracken clad valley and rocky bluffs above the chapel, which is nestled out of site beneath them. It's in a sheltered site beneath a rocky outcrop and sits in a small enclosure looking down on the River Inney and a small pond fed from the spring's overflow.
The chapel has been restored and is well preserved with the adjoining well house also in good condition. The well house has a deep, clear spring of water which then flows out and through the church. It exits into another second well accessed from the exterior of the chapel. The water level isn't always high enough for the water to continually flow through the church itself but both wells were full when we visited with a small amount of water in the chapel's runnel.
Inside the chapel is pretty bare but you're immediately struck by the solid altar of four pillars and a plinth in granite. It's very ancient and it's thought dates back to the days of St Clether in the 6th century . It's very impressive. The runnel for the spring water runs beneath it and there's a recess where the saint's body was probably laid to rest. Healing miracles are reputed to have happened here. I can well believe it as the presence of God is here.
Not much is known about St Clether except that like many in Cornwall, he was a son of King Brychan and came across with his siblings from Wales in the 6th Century to evangelise Cornwall. He established a hermitage and prayer cell on this site where he lived out his days.
We visted in late January on a bright sunny day. The enclosure was bathed in sunlight and early daffodil shoots were beginning to emerge. The whole place was full of birdsong and no other noise. There was no intrusion from human noise at all. It was totally peaceful apart from the sounds of water, birds, and wind in trees. It also felt a place totally at peace with God, a place of deep rest in His presence. We wanted to linger a long, long time.... so did.
Inside the chapel the peace permeated. Centuries of prayers have lingered in the place and whilst sometimes there's visitors who don't acknowledge Jesus, the overwhelming atmosphere is that God is in this place. We worshipped easily in song and praise and a blanket of peace enveloped us. Burdens and concerns just seem to drop away and we could live right in that moment, knowing God was near and cared deeply for us. It reminded me very much of the visit we had in Wales to St Issui Patricio church one also linked to King Brychan. The sense of God in the place and a deep well of His presence was similar; that ancientness that only comes from centuries of believers praying in faith.
Our dog accompanies us on these forays and she often picks up on spiritual atmospheres. She was particularly happy here and also drawn continually to lap the water from the spring and in the church. She's not one who drinks much and it was noticeable she kept returning again and again.
It wasn't a visit full of spiritual experiences, although I did have a beautiful vision of a lion's head, which I took to be Jesus, the lion of Judah. It was much more about being pulled aside into the presence of the Holy Spirit to rest and receive peace.
I think it's one of my favourite ancient Celtic Christian sites in Cornwall and one I will revisit again. It was overwhelmed awhile ago by occult paraphernalia and that's been removed and even though pagans clearly visit I didn't find that stopped the ancient Christian well from being open.
A few months after visiting St Clether’s chapel and well, I stumbled across another holy well dedicated to St Clether near Ladock. The place is Ventonglidder (the spring of Clether). It’s on private land so please don’t try to visit as it’s causing problems for the various residents. However, we bumped into the lady who owned the well and has cleared it out beautifully. It felt a very special place and the new owner clearly loves it. We encountered some resistance spiritually which we prayed through and I sense this place is important. Angels still gather by the pool which flows from the well and the owner has sensed them dancing. She now enjoys reading her Bible and spending time there.