St Gluvias Holy Well, Cornwall
Location SW 7848 3496
St Gluvias’ holy well in Penryn is now hidden amongst a modern housing estate. Once nestled in a wooded valley where the spring fed into the creek below by the church and where the original prayer oratory is, today it runs dry. It was damaged by the house building but has been restored to a measure and is situated in a small green area overhung with rhododendrons.
If you’re looking for the exact location, it is opposite 45 Old Well Gardens.There is a path leading through a green open space and this goes directly to the well. It is alternatively called Round Ring well head.
The well is slightly hard to access due to being below the path level and a bit of a scramble down. The area in front suggests an old baptismal pool but this could merely be an aberration of the restoration. There was water in the well and it ran clear but no longer feeds out of the well down the original channel to the Creekside by St Gluvias’ church. As I’d previously prayed at the church and had an amazing time I was interested to see if there was a similar deposit remaining at the well too. (See St Gluvias entry for church visit).
Despite being a gloomy winter day and the well overshadowed by large rhododendrons, it was surprisingly easy to worship spontaneously, which we did for considerable time experiencing a rising joy. I sensed there were many prayers prayed at this spot and whilst there’s little recorded about St Gluvias, the place had a residue of holiness. There was no evidence of occult activity and I suspect most people don’t know of the well’s existence. Someone had beautifully carved the name on an overhanging branch.
After worshipping and praying for the ancient well to spring up (Numbers 21:17) I became aware of a warrior angel in blue and red garments guarding the well and joining in with us as we worshipped.
All that seems to be known about St Gluvias is that he was St Petroc’s nephew. In the 6th century he established his hermitage by the Penryn river and gathered converts. He returned to Wales later on and was possibly martyred. It is possible a monastic site grew up where the parish church now is. His well would have been connected to his ministry.
So whilst this is not the most beautiful holy well I’ve visited, there is a deposit of God here and an ancient spiritual presence. It’s still worth visiting and lingering in prayer.