When: 5th – 13th July 2014
Where: The wells are located in The Square and The Green, Whitwell, 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 drought. 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. They have been decorated annually by the local Guide and Scout groups since 1972. The wells can be found in the village square and the village green. Saturday 5th July is the main Well Dressing day and there will be a parade at 2pm, followed by the traditional blessing of the wells. From 2.30pm there will be a craft fair and cream teas in the local community centre.
Below is a video which illustrates the custom of well dressing in the county.
Well Dressing takes place in villages and towns across the county, including Rowsley, Old Whittington, Bakewell, Hope and Mellor.