Madron Well

Madron Well - Holy Well and Chapel

Madron Well
Madron Well
Down a muddy path lined with blackthorn and hawthorn just north of the village of Madron, lies Madron Well which has long been revered for its magical and healing powers as well as its supply of water to the local community. Even today strips of cloth, or clouties, can be seen tied to surrounding branches and stand testament to its continued use. The well head is defined by a rough circle of granite slabs (re-laid in the 1980s) and records show a large granite trough at the start of the C20th, which has since gone.

In terms of healing, the infirm and crippled would come here, often in May to coincide with Beltane (the astronomical festival of fertility). The sufferer would enter the water three times naked, circumnavigate the well clockwise three times and then rest on a nearby hillock named St Maderne’s Bed. A piece of cloth would be torn from their clothing (specifically from the afflicted area) and it was believed that as the rag deteriorated, so the ailment would improve (of course, clothes were made from natural fibres back then!). Some deem the well's unusually high radiation levels as connected to its restorative powers.

Madron Chapel font
Madron Chapel
Another ritual to take place at Madron Well was the enquiring by local maidens as to how long they would have to wait to be married. Again tied to Beltane, they would come in May and make a cross with straw attached by a pin. Once placed on the water, the number of bubbles arising would signify the years left to wait. This, along with offerings of straw crosses and pins for all manner of wishes, continued well into the 20th century.

Nearby lie the remains of a simple C12th chapel, with a doorway to the north (unusual in Christian churches as it is sometimes considered the Devil's Door), an altar to the east and a simple stone font in the southwest corner, originally fed by the same source as the well. Despite its altar and dedication to St Madern, this tiny and beautiful place is believed to be originally rooted in pre-Christian Pagan worship. St Madern is oft considered a Christianised corruption (including a sex change!) of the Celtic mother goddess Modron.