Ffynnon Wen lies in woods about half a mile to the north west of Henllan on the banks of Afon y Meirchion. It is a large complex, but easy to miss at first, being totally overgrown and merged into the landscape.
Little appears to be known of its history, Jones classifies it as a class E well in his ranking. Class E represents
“Miscellaneous wells. There are a large number of these, but only those which possess a name of possible significance, or concerning which legends and traditions have survived are included.”
The scale of Ffynnon Wen certainly suggests that at some period in the past it must have held some significance. It is mentioned by Lhuyd in 1692, and described as
“there are ruins of two buildings nearby, one having been a bath house fed by water from the well, and the other a dressing room provided with a fireplace.”
The well itself is built into the back about ten yards above the well. There is a small entrance into the chamber, fronted by a rectangular stone. The well inside is stone lined, about two to three feet square, with a depth of water of about two feet inside on the day we visited.
The bath measures about 12 feet square. There was water in it to a depth of a few inches, water drains from the bath into the adjacent river.
The dressing room is least well preserved, a few courses of stone, overgrown by weed remain to indicate where it was beside the bath house.
That the site has at sometime had some importance is maybe evidenced by the remains of a road that must once have led past it, with the remnants of a stone wall running alongside it for sections of the route. Whether this was purely a riverside bathhouse belonging to the nearby estate – some medieval lord’s private jacuzzi, or a site of more significance remains to be seen. Ffynnon Wen translates literally as “White Well”, however, in the 1912 Inventory of Ancient Monuments in Wales the Royal Commission’s writer, when discussing another Ffynnon Wen at Gwaunysgor in Flintshire, makes the argument that the name signifies “Holy Well” with gwyn being mutated according to rules of Welsh grammar following ffynnon into wen = blessed.
The holy well of Henllan was much closer to the church, and no longer exists. When visiting the church the current vicar showed us a medieval font that he suggested had been lifted out of the base of that well at some time in the recent past.