chapter  13
16 Pages

Divine Muses, Catholic Poets and Pilgrims to St Winifred’s Well: Literary Communities in Francis Chetwinde’s ‘New Hellicon’ (1642)

It was very much in the interests of Britain’s post-Reformation Catholic community to maximize on a sense of nostalgia, and keep alive topographical memories of the old religion.2 The association of a saint with a particular site was nowhere more pronounced than at Holywell, Flintshire, where pilgrims continued to visit St Winifred’s Well after the Reformation, both out of devotion to its presiding saint and in the hope of benefiting from its healing waters.3 Thus, a saint whose legend was an unusually improbable one, for whom Protestants had a particular disdain, persisted in the post-Reformation cultural memory: among Protestants as well as Catholics, though the site acted as an especially important focus for the Catholic community.4 As illustrated by Francis Chetwinde’s ‘The New Hellicon’ (1642),

1 I am grateful for help with completing this study to Peter Davidson, Arnold Hunt and Jane Stevenson; Thomas McCoog, SJ; Simon Gotts at Flintshire Library and Information Service; Claire Harrington at Flintshire County Record Office; Dominic Farr at the William Salt Library, Stafford; Joy Thomas at the A.N. Palmer Centre for Local Studies and Archives, Wrexham; Deborah Tritton at the Cornwall Record Office; and the Rt Hon. the Earl of Shrewsbury & Talbot, owner of the ‘Chetwyndorum Stemma’.