St Cleer Well
St Cleer Well
The final stop on our tour of village relics was St Cleer Well.
We had read a little about the well on the information boards at Siblyback Lake.
Later that evening Sabby showed me a book full of village information and wonderful tales from yesteryear – here is one of them:
“When I visited this interesting well in 1850, and made the sketches of it here appended, it was a very pretty group of ruins. The cross, of Latin form, about seven feet high and recercele on both sides, stood near the well, the front of which, partly enveloped in ivy, was fairly entire.
The arches and buttresses, well moulded showed it to have once been a work of great skill, labour and cost. The entrance was by a double arch, the central mullion being imperfect. The back of the well was down, and the space partly filled with sharply-cut and well-fashioned ruins. The water is good and plentiful. I tried to gather something of the legends connected with the well, but was only told tantalisingly that there were many strange stories about it, that it was still held to have miraculous virtues, and was resorted to by the halt and the blind. I could get no confirmation of the statement that it was once a bowsening pool.
Many of our Cornish wells have, as in the case of St. Nun’s in Pelynt, some tradition connected with them, intended by those who first gave them currency to stay the hand of the destroyer. This has been so saved that it would not be difficult to effect an entire restoration from the ruins which lie scattered round. I learnt from a native of the parish that some of the stones of the well have been at various times carted away for meaner purposes; but they have, by some mysterious agency, been brought back again during the night. This account describes St. Cleer Well as it was in 1850.
In 1854 it was restored by the family of Rogers of Penrose, near Helstone (old spelling ???), to the memory of the Rev. John Jope, for sixty-seven years vicar of the parish, as is recorded on a slab on the wall.” T.Q.C.
The saint from whom the parish, and also the well, is named, is St. Clare, or St. Clear, who was, according to Hals, “born of honourable lineage at the city of Assisum in Italy, in the province of Umbra; and being from her youth a practiser of the Christian religion with great zeal, she became desirous to follow a religious course of life; and to that end applied herself to St. Francis, who lived in that city, and made known the same to him; who greatly commended her for it, and soon after consecrated her as a nun by cutting off her hair, and apparelling her in the habit of the order of the Nuns of St. Benedict. He carried her to the monastery of St. Paul in that city, which was of that order, where she remained till St. Francis had repaired the church of St. Damian, without the city, in a solitary place, wherein he set her; in which she was closed up in the love of Jesus Christ, and there begun or set up a college of virgins called the Order of the Poor Clares of St. Benedict, under the solemn vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity, according to the rule of St. Francis.”
St. Cleer’s Well is said to have belonged to a nunnery, once extant either in this parish or at Liskeard, of one of the three Orders of Poor Clares. The building is in a very complete state; but, unfortunately for its character as a well, a large block of granite now covers the water. The back of the well appears mostly, if not entirely, the old building. It stands on a walled-in plot of ground by the roadside; and certainly, from its form, may have once been used as a bowsening pool.
So, by the narrowest of squeaks St Cleer Well was my favourite stop – it certainly provided my favourite picture of the day.
ALL IN ALL WHAT A WONDERFUL FINALE TO OUR AFTERNOON STOPS
SURPRISINGLY ANCIENT MONUMENT IN THE CENTRE OF THE VILLAGE