HOLYWELL (Welsh, Tref/0)ton, the town of the well), • a parliamentary borough and market-town of Flintshire, North Wales, is beautifully situated on an eminence near the left bank of the estuary of the Dee, and about 2 miles from the station on the Chester and Holyhead line, 17 miles from Cluster. The streets are irregular, but spacious and well-paved, while many of the buildings are substantial and elegant, and give the town an air of prosperity and opulence. The parish church, dedicated to St Winifred, and erected in 1769, but retaining some columns of a more ancient structure, is a plain edifice with a strong embattled tower. Near the railway station are the remains of Basingwerk abbey, partly Saxon and partly Early Pointed. Of the old fort called Basingwerk castle scarcely any traces now remain. Until the commencement of the present century the size of Holywell was inconsiderable, but since then its prosperity has been uninterruptedly increasing, owing to the lead quarries and the lead, copper, and zinc mines of the vicinity. The town possesses lead smelting works, a shot manufactory, and copper, brass, and zinc works. The population of the parliamentary borough in 1871 was 7961.
The well of St Winifred, from which the town takes its name, long considered one of the wonders of Wales, is a spring of water which rushes up at the rate of 21 tons a minute. its temperature is higher than that of ordinary spring water, and varies very little with the different seasons. The stones at the bottom of the well have a slightly reddish colouring due to vegetable substances, a fact which doubtless suggested the legend according to which the spring gushed up 011 the spot where rested toe head of the virgin Winifred, who had been decapitated by a lover offended at her constancy to her monastic vows. The well is covered by a fine Gothic building said to have keen erected by Margaret, countess of Richmond, mother of Henry VII., but having some portions which are of earlier date. The exquisite chapel above has been restored, and is used for public service. :Many Bonner Catholics still visit the well, and swimming-baths have been erected for general use.