St Winefride's Well, Holywell
Holywell shown within Flintshire
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
The market town of Holywell takes its name from the St Winefride's Well, a holy well surrounded by a chapel. 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. The well is one of the Seven Wonders of Wales and the town bills itself as The Lourdes of Wales. Many pilgrims from all over the world continue to visit Holywell and the Well.
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 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). There was a railway station in the town that was open between 1848 and 1966.
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.
St James parish church is a grade II* listed building 
Holywell hosted an unofficial National Eisteddfod event in 1869.
|Holywell Central||1,835 |
|Holywell East||1,828 |
|Holywell West||2,311 |
With the adjoining villages the population is over 15,000
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 near-contiguous village of Greenfield is located to the north east of the town on the B5121 road.
Villages within the Holywell catchment area include: Bagillt, Brynford, Carmel, Gorsedd, Halkyn, Licswm, Lloc, Mostyn, Pantasaph, Pentre Halkyn, Rhes-y-Cae, Trelawnyd, Whitford and Ysceifiog. In addition there are other smaller scattered communities within this area. All of these are within a six mile radius of Holywell. These villages are all connected to Holywell by a frequent bus service.
The town centre contains many small businesses and national stores, serving not only the shopping needs of the people of the town itself, but also those of the surrounding villages within the town's natural catchment area. Part of the centre of the historic market town has been designated a conservation area.
The old cottage hospital was located in Pen-y-Maes until it closed. A new hospital has been built near the football pitch of the local team.
Although Holywell does not have a cricket team carrying the name of the town a number of junior and senior cricketers from the area play for nearby village team Carmel & District Cricket Club whose ground is located a short distance from Holywell between the villages of Carmel and Lloc located just off the A55 expressway.
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.
- Charles Sidney Beauclerk, Catholic priest who led the revival of the town as a pilgrimage centre.
- Ian Buckett, Wales rugby player, born near here and attended school in Holywell.
- Former Southampton and Wales footballer Ron Davies was born in Holywell in 1942.
- Former England footballer Gerry Hitchens, after retiring from professional play, lived at Holywell from 1977 and is buried there.
- Mike England, Wales footballer and football manager, was born in Holywell in 1941.
- Television presenter Gareth Jones (Gaz Top) comes from Holywell.
- Thomas Pennant (14 June O.S. 1726 – 16 December 1798) was a Welsh naturalist, traveller, writer and antiquarian. He lived his at his family estate, Downing Hall near Whitford.
- Jonathan Pryce, actor, was born in Holywell in 1947.
- Emlyn Williams, dramatist and actor, attended Holywell Grammar School.
- Sir Ronald Waterhouse, High Court judge.
- Richard and Adam Johnson, classical singers.
- Ward Profile: Holywell Central (PDF), Flintshire County Council, retrieved 13 November 2007
- Ward Profile: Holywell East (PDF), Flintshire County Council, retrieved 13 November 2007
- Ward Profile: Holywell West (PDF), Flintshire County Council, retrieved 13 November 2007
- About Holywell, Holywell Town Website, retrieved 3 August 2009
- P. J. Chandlery (1913). "Holywell". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- P. J. Chandlery (1913). "St. Winefride". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- "Parish Church of St.james,greenfield Street, Holywell". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
- Business Profile of Holywell, retrieved 28 March 2009
- Flintshire Conservation Areas, Flintshire County Council, retrieved 3 August 2009
- Proposed St Bueno's Circular Walk, retrieved 10 May 2007
|Wikisource has the text of the 1905 New International Encyclopedia article Holywell.|
- Shrine website
- Holywell website
- Holywell Church website
- BBC Wales: Holywell
- Photos of Holywell and surrounding area on geograph.org.uk