The holy well and the
Chapel of St Anne in the Wood,
Brislington, Bristol


Ken Taylor

book front cover

Published by Archyve
Publication date December 2014
Paperback (210mm x 210mm x 14mm)
Illustrated with c.130 monochrome images
188 pages

A history of the medieval chapel and St Anne's Well

The holy well in St Anne's attracts visitors not only from the local community enjoying the peace of this secluded wooded valley, but from all over the Southwest, and beyond. It is nationally famous as a healing well associated with the medieval pilgrimage tradition centred on the nearby chapel.

The chapel has long since vanished, but a good number of surviving documents allow us to understand its importance, and fragments of its structure give a tantalising insight into what it looked like in its heyday around 1500. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries the chapel passed into secular hands, and after seeing service with the pottery industry, it fell into ruin. There was an archaeological excavation of the site in 1914, and publication of this book coincides with the centenary of that pivotal event.

However, a persistent tradition that St Anne's Well is linked with the chapel is under threat. The archaeological evidence that has been cited to support the link is now called into question - and the author publishes for the first time correspondence almost a hundred years old, that first identified the problem.

This book publishes many old photographs for the first time (including one of the chapel excavation), and the author has identified the oldest known documentary mention of the chapel (a parchment dating to 1304, also illustrated). But this book is also very much a celebration of the modern use of the holy well, and it highlights the recent revival of interest in this remarkable heritage asset, including the two recent music festivals held at the site.

book spine

Contents include...

Preface by Professor Ron Hutton

The holy well
St Anne’s Well – source of mystery
Restoration of the holy well
Sharing the well – Christian, pagan and secular

The medieval chapel
Keynsham, crusades, and the cult of St Anne
The Oratory/Chapel of New Wick
The medieval glory of St Anne in the Wood
The king who came on pilgrimage
Henry VIII and the Dissolution
The celebration and destruction of the chapel

Bibliography (10 pages)

Text © Ken Taylor 2015-2016

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