St Winefride (or St. Gwenfrewi as she was known in Wales) was a seventh century saint The daughter of a Welsh prince she had taken a vow of celibacy. A young nobleman called Caradoc refused to accept her vows and pursued her. She fled but he caught up with her and cut her head off with his sword. St Winefride's head then rolled to a spot near her church where her uncle, St Beuno, was at prayer. A spring gushed forth from this spot while nearby Caradoc fell to the ground which opened and swallowed him. St Beuno replaced the girl's head on her shoulders and she lived. She died fifteen years later, c.660, as the Abbess of a nunnery in Gwytherin.
Her main devotional site is at the eponymous Holywell in Flintshire. Almost alone amongst English and Welsh shrines it remained a place of pilgrimage after the reformation. Thus King James II and Queen Maria Beatice were able to follow in the footsteps of King Henry V to pray at the well. On the eve of the Gunpowder Plot a group of Catholics led by Fr Henry Garnet S.J. were able to go there on pilgrimage. It remained a place of pilgrimage throughout the recusant period
The present shrine chapel was built by the great Lady Margaret Beaufort at the end of the fifteenth century.
Image from Wikipedia
The illustrated website of the shrine is here and there is a Wikipedia article about it here, again with illustrations.
I visited Holywell as a seven year old and, unfortunately do not recall much about it, other than being in the rather dark and dank atmosphere around the pool at the well-head. It is a place I would very much like to go back and visit again.
In 1138 St Winefride's bones were taken from Gwytherin to the abbey of SS Peter and Paul at Shrewsbury. The first of Ellis Peters' Br Cadfael novels A Morbid Taste for Bones is written around this. Regrettably perhaps Shrewsbury Abbey is now better known for the fictional Cadfael than for St Winefride. The novels are pleasant enough, but historically leave something to be desired. Ellis Peters may have written good detective stories, but I do n't think she was that well informed about the medieval Church.
I gather from a website that there is also a well named after St Winefride in the hamlet of Woolston near Oswestry in Shropshire. Oswestry (ˈɒzwəstɹɪ is a town and Civil parish in Shropshire, England, very close to the Welsh border Shropshire (ˈʃrɒpʃɪə/ /-ʃə alternatively known as Salop or abbreviated in print only Shrops, is a county in the It is thought that on the way to Shrewsbury Winefride's body was laid here overnight and a spring sprang up out of the ground. The water is supposed to have healing powers and be good at healing bruises, wounds and broken bones. The well is covered by a fifteenth century half-timbered cottage. The water flows through a series of stone troughs and into a large pond, which then flows into a stream. The cottage is in a quiet, peaceful setting in the middle of the countryside, and is maintained by the Landmark Trust.
There is also another place where her body was laid and a spring sprang up. Holywell farm midway between Tattenhall and Clutton, Cheshire. There is a spring in the garden of this non working farm which supplies two houses with their drinking water.Remains of St Winefride's shrine still exist in the abbey church at Shrewsbury, of which the nave, west tower and north porch are medieval; the truncated transepts and sanctuary are nineteenth century, the work of J.L. Pearson. In the abbey are surviving medieval depictions of SS Winefride and Beuno.