When: 6th – 13th July 2013
Where: Whitwell village, Derbyshire
£: Free (donations welcome)
What is it?
Derbyshire has an unusual custom which has been practised in villages across the county, on and off, for many years. Wells and other water sources are ‘dressed’ with flowers, petals and other natural objects, often with great skill, to create some pretty and intricate pictures and designs.
This peculiar custom’s origins are thought to come from a pagan tradition, possibly to give thanks for clean water or freedom from draught. Although banned for a time, the well dressing continues today, providing extra colour to the villages in Derbyshire.
In the beginning the wells were dressed with simple garlands but over time a more delicate and time-consuming craft has developed. Wooden boards covered with moist clay are used as the base for decoration. Natural objects such as flowers, pebbles, leaves, berries, bark and mosses can all be attached to the board to create the desired picture.
Whitwell is nestled in the north-east corner of Derbyshire and has two wells that are decorated by the local Guide and Scout groups. The wells can be found in the village square and the village green.
Below is a video which illustrates the custom of well dressing in the county.