Church of St. Tegla and St. Tegla’s Holy Well


Ffynnon Tegla (the holy well) is now hard to find and on private land. Starting from the church (and after asking permission at Mill Farm) go through the aluminum gate to the right of the new row of cottages, past farm buildings, and then over a stile by the next gate: bear right off the footpath and walk across a field towards the stream until you reach a low bank. Turn left along this bank to find the unobtrusive well – a sunken stone trough – between the bank and the stream.

The neat church of St. Tegla was entirely rebuilt in 1866 but retains its old font and a quite outstanding medieval brass chandelier, probably made in Bruges (Belgium) in about 1500. It has twelve elaborately branched and foliaged arms, with a beast-head ring below and a crowned image of the Virgin Mary above. Like a similar chandelier at neighboring Llanarmon (Site 26) it is said to have come from Valle Crucis Abbey.

The chandelier hangs before a truly remarkable Georgian window, originally made in 1800 for St. Asaph Cathedral. O painted (rather than stained) glass, it depicts a youthful Jesus contemplating a vision of his future Crucifixion, enacted by a bevy of chubby cherubs.

Most remarkable still is the story of St. Tegla’s holy well, by a river Alun just outside the village. According to a document written in the 2nd century, the saint was a female disciple of St. Paul, who lived at Iconium (Konya in modern Turkey): renowned for her healing powers, she was eventually martyred at the age of 90. Quite how this person came to be honored in Denbighshire is unknown, but the Welsh Tegla was likewise famous for healing, through the waters of her well here, the sickness called ‘Clwyf Tegla’, or epilepsy. Sufferers performed a complex ritual which included bathing in the well, walking around it three times carrying a chicken (a hen for a woman, a cockerel for a man) and sleeping under the church altar (with the chicken) using the Bible as a pillow. Pins driven into the bird were cast into the well, and finally, its beak was put into the patient’s mouth. The epileptic fits were thus transferred to the chicken, which (not surprisingly) staggered about to confirm the cure. Though condemned by the church authorities, these rites were allegedly often successful, continuing until at least 1813.

St. Tegla’s Well is still honored annually on her feast day in September. Its never-failing spring provided fresh water during a drought in 1921, and when excavated in 1935 produced many pins, coins and other offerings.

Church normally open 7.30 am – 6.00 pm daily

 + coffee 

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Cape Town, South Africa