Holywell, Flintshire

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Welsh: Treffynnon
St Winefride's Well, Holywell
Grid reference: SJ185755
Location: 53°16’26"N, 3°13’23"W
Population: 5,974  (2001)
Post town: Holywell
Postcode: CH8
Dialling code: 01352
Local Government
Council: Flintshire

Holywell is a market town in Flintshire, standing to the west of the estuary of the River Dee.

Holywell is split into four distinct areas: Pen-y-Maes, the Strand, the Holway and the town centre. The Holway, located on the west side of the town, is the largest of the residential areas of Holywell. The nearly contiguous village of Greenfield is to the northeast of the town on the B5121 road.

In 2007, a group of locals proposed a circular walk way, the "St Beuno's Circular Walk", joining all of the historical and religious locations of the town.[1]


Holywell takes its name from the St Winefride's Well, formerly reputed as a holy well, surrounded by a chapel.[2] The well has been known since at least the Roman period, and has been a site of pilgrimage since about 660 when Saint Winefride was beheaded there by Caradog who attempted to attack her.

From the 18th century, the town grew around the lead mining and cotton milling industries.The water supply from the mountains above the town, which flows continually and at a constant temperature supplies the Well and powered many factories in the Greenfield Valley. In addition to lead and cotton, copper production was of great importance. Thomas Williams, a lawyer from Anglesey built factories and smelteries for copper in Greenfield Valley, bringing the copper from Anglesey to St. Helens and then to Greenfield Valley where it was used to make many items for the slave trade. These items included manilas (copper bracelets, neptunes (large flat dishes to evaporate water from seawater to produce salt) and copper sheathing. The copper sheathing was used to cover the hulls of the wooden ships trading in the warmer Caribbean waters, giving rise to the expression 'copper bottomed investment', the sheathing was also applied to Royal Navy ships and was instrumental in Nelson's victories (two of these copper plates from HMS Victory are in Greenfield Valley Heritage Park museum).

The wealth generated from these industries led to the development of the town and the High Street still has many Georgian buildings.

The Greenfield Valley is well known for the abundance of birds and butterflies and many enthusiasts visits to see the array of species. The Valley also has a number of conserved mills and structures from bygone ages and is the only place in Wales to have seven scheduled ancient monuments.

Holywell hosted an unofficial National Eisteddfod event in 1869.


Outside links