This Saxon ring Village is situated beside the River Great Ouse and can only be reached by road from A1123 via Needingworth or by boat. Parking is ‘on street’ or, as patrons, in The Ferryboat Inn car park. The start point is the exit of this car park.
On exiting the car park turn right. Twenty metres ahead is the entrance to Moynes Hall (pic 1) which is the oldest major dwelling in the village. Its history can be traced back to the Domesday Survey of 1086. Moynes Hall was built as a ‘moted farmhouse’. Three old 12th century posts still stand as part of an old cart shed. The current dwelling was built in the 16th century.
Continue along Back Lane - there is no footpath. There is a mixture of houses, from thatched – 1654 (pic 2) to one very new German design (pic 3). Opposite the junction to Needingworth is White Rose Cottage (pic 4) which was once owned by A A Frazer, a member of the Frazer family of artists who lived and painted in Holywell at the end of the 19th century. At the junction with Conger Lane turn left towards the church (pics 5 & 6).
St John the Baptist Church is the parish church of Holywell-cum-Needingworth. There is evidence for a well-established church on the site in 969. It was dedicated in 1216. Documentary and architectural evidence dates the building to the 13th century.
Members of the Frazer family are buried in the graves that are surrounded by low metal fencing. The brick cover for the well (pic 7) was erected by the Rev. Beckwith in 1845. The well has been ‘dressed’ since the early 1980’s after the practice of Derbyshire (pic 8). The old Rectory has been converted into flats and the new one is in private use. Pass through the other gate into Holywell Front.
Walk along Holywell Front passing a number of thatched houses – Spring Cottage (pic 9) was another Frazer family home. Hill Farm House (pic 10) displays a date of 1623 on its chimney. Reed Cottage was owned by G Baird Frazer (pic 11). The land between the front walls of the houses and The Brook is Common Land and was used for grazing. Return to The Old Ferryboat Inn (pic 12).
This is one of three inns that vie with one another as being ‘the oldest inn in the country’. It too claims its beginnings from 969. The building has been through a number of refurbishments over the recent past. There was a ferry operating for many years and some road maps still indicate a continuous road from the village of Over. There is a tradition that the ghost of Juliet Tewsley can be seen on St Patrick’s Day, the anniversary of her suicide in 1050, when she was spurned by the boy she loved and threw herself into the river.
Acknowledgements to Joe Newell “The Holywell Story”. A Parish Paths Leaflet is also available from the Parish Clerk - 50p.
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