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Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall, Vol. 2, by William Bottrell, [1873], at

Parchapel Well.

To find the Saint's Well one should take a pathway bearing westward, from a little below the church, and which leads over Roskestal cliff to Pargwarra (we spell all names as the inhabitants pronounce them). After crossing the brook and mounting a hedge keep straight towards the sea, and on a pretty level spot the ruined walls of St. Levan's baptistry will be found, as also some traces of rude steps on a pathway that connected this holy fount with an ancient chapel and burying-ground which stood on ground so near the precipice that little, if any, of its site now remains. We have heard old folks of St. Levan (who were born there more than a century ago) say that in their younger days Parchapel Well, as they always called it, was, twice a year, regularly cleaned out and repaired, and the ground, for a good space around, as well as the steps, cleared of weeds, swept, and sanded. The first week of May being a time of general well-dressing, Parchapel Well was never neglected then, and it was also cleaned up against the feasten tide, when many christenings usually took place.

Old folks also spoke of another time-honoured observance in which the Saint's Well was shown due respect. Until within half a century or so, it was a custom on Christmas-eve for carol singers belonging to the higher side hamlets to assemble in Sowah town-place round a large flat table-like rock called the Garrack Zans (holy rock). Here they would commence singing, and proceed to Roskestal, where at another Garrack Zans in that town-place they would be joined by others, and all would thence go singing down to Parchapel Well, where they would meet with many singers from Treen and other lower-side places. At the Well many an old carol would be chanted. One was never forgotten, in which, according to our West Country version, Holy Mary says to her dear child:—

"Go thee wayst out, child Jesus;
 Go thee wayst out to play
 Down by God's holy well.
 I see three pretty chelderen
 As ever tongue can tell."

This, for its sweet simplicity, is still a favourite in the west.

p. 149

The rude steps, which may yet be traced (though almost overgrown by rushes and other water-plants) will be regarded with interest, as we learn from St. Levan traditions that great sinners did penance by crawling over these rough stones on their bare knees, and that the devout who desired or aspired to acquire extraordinary grace, or indulgence, scrambled up all the way on bare knees from chapel-door to holy fount.

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