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The Holy Well That Flows Through Bluestone

Bluestone is steeped in history and one tale you may not have heard is about the Holy Well that once flowed through the resort. For this quest, you'll have to head to the village and the ruin of the 12th century, Newton Church.

Near the east end of the ruined church, where the slope drops sharply away to form a large u-shaped depression, a spring of water bubbles out of the ground. From there, the water runs down through the culvert that passes the walls of the Tafarn and then into the Bluestone lake before hurrying on to join the brook flowing alongside the Nature Trail in Penglyn Woods. The stream, now much enlarged, continues on a downhill course until it meets the Eastern Cleddau near Black Pool Mill.

That spring is Bluestone’s very own holy well. It’s difficult to see nowadays, as the boggy area where the water emerges from the ground is overgrown and, especially in the summer, foliage obscures the view. Nevertheless, this is where in past centuries local people and pilgrims from further afield came to drink the water or to wash in the hope of curing their illness.

Looking at the site today, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would want to wallow around in a muddy hole in the ground, but my guess is that in years gone by the spring issued into a stone basin, covered perhaps by a masonry hood.

Cattle would have been kept well away so that their hooves didn’t churn up the ground and also to prevent the odd cow-pat from ending up in the water. It’s also possible that special cattle feeding ponds were constructed nearby, just to ensure that the herds kept their distance. There were once three small, roughly circular ponds along the course of the stream, where the Bluestone lake is now situated, so perhaps that is where the cattle drank.

Most parishes in Pembrokeshire had at least one well somewhere near the main village. Not only were they sources of water for everyday use, but their supernatural powers were widely believed in and respected. It could hardly be otherwise, as their origins as places of healing were linked to the lives of Christian saints.

There are few of these wells left in their original state today and even fewer that are still visited by people who believe in their healing powers. Many, such as St Deiniol’s Well, were destroyed during the Reformation when the authorities were anxious to stamp out all links to Catholicism. Perhaps that is the fate that befell our healing well at Bluestone, as there is very little about it in existing records. We don’t even know which saint the well - and the church for that matter - is named after.

My guess is that both the well and the church are dedicated to St Thomas because there is an old document in the National Library in Aberystwyth that mentions the various parishes in Pembrokeshire where there are chapels and churches dedicated to the saint and the list includes Newton North, where Bluestone now stands…but that’s another story.

 

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