HRH The Duchess of Gloucester joined the ranks of Royal Pilgrims & Visitors to the Well on Friday 14 October 2005.
Her Royal Highness, welcomed at the Well, by the Right Reverend Edwin Regan, Bishop of Wrexham. The Duchess was on a visit to North East Wales and arrived at St Winefride's Well on her first visit to Holywell accompanied by her lady in Waiting Mrs Lucinda Hanbury, and escorted by the Lord Lieutenant of Clwyd, Mr Trevor G Jones.
HRH visited the Exhibition Hall and was particularly interested in the beautiful stone processional banner of St Winefride and the 18/19th Century crutches left at the Well by pilgrims. On proceeding through the Well Gardens to the shrine, some 23 volunteers of St Winefride's parish who, throughout the pilgrimage season, lead the daily Well Service and act as Stewards in the Museum were presented to Her Royal Highness.
HRH then visited the Gateway Chapel (a place for pilgrims to sit for moments of rest and reflection) with it modern stained-glass window depicting St Winefride and St Beuno beside the Well and the handsome statue of the Virgin with the Laughing Child, copied from the original by Antonio Rossellino made about 1465, which is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
The Duchess then visited the Well shrine, with its large star shaped basin within which the water rises before flowing into the deep narrow bath, the large stone in the outer pool, known as Mean Beuno, St Beuno's Stone, which before the construction of the present shrine, lay in the stream flowing from the spring. HRH particularly asked about the form of the bathing tradition and just how long it would take to recite the rosary whilst kneeling on St Beuno's Stone in the outer pool!
HRH accompanied by Bishop Edwin then visited the Well Museum of relics, ex-votive offerings, in thanksgiving for favours received by pilgrims and other artefacts of the pilgrimage.
HRH, Patron, the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies examined the extraordinary fine detail and stitching of the 17th Century, Maria Bodenham, Chalice Veil and the 1905 Mostyn Mitre, on display together with the 19th Century processional banners painted on arras by Baron Corvo.
On leaving, to visit the Town Centre Memorial Gates and Library, HRH received from Bishop Regan, a John Ingleby (1749 - 1808) Print of St Winefride's Well, to commemorate her visit. Printed in 1998 from the original untouched copper plate on hand made paper using traditional intaglio method, by artist Mr Leslie Jones of Clwyd Fine Arts Trust.
1189 Richard I Richard I, the Lionheart, made a pilgrimage to the Well.
1416 Henry V Following his victory at Agincourt, Henry V paid a thanksgiving visit to the Well:
'The King, with great reverence, went on foot in pilgrimage from Shrewsbury to St
Winefride's Well in North Wales' (Adam of Usk, "Chronicle".)
1461 Edward IV According to the Welsh poet Tudor Aled, Edward IV came on pilgrimage, when he placed a pinch
of earth taken from beside the Well upon his crown.
1686 James II and Queen Mary Beatrice
On 29th August James II and Queen Mary Beatrice came on pilgrimage to the Well,
to pray for an heir; according to Thomas Pennant (Whitford & Holywell, 1796, 230) the
Jesuits then in charge of the Well presented the King with a present of the very shift in
which his Great Grand Mother Mary Stuart lost her head.
1828 Princess Victoria and King Leopold of Belgium
Princess Victoria, staying in Holywell, with her uncle King Leopold of Belgium, visited the
2005 HRH The Duchess of Gloucester
14 October: visit of HRH The Duchess of Gloucester to St Winefride's Well and the Museum
of the Pilgrimage.