The ‘Art’ of Well Dressing

I have, at the beginning of this blog, alluded to a strange local tradition called Well Dressing.

2014 Finished Well Dressing

2014 Finished Well Dressing

It is I’m told native to Derbyshire and the small village of Barlow has been dressing its wells for a very long time, we have been able to trace it back to 1800’s.  It is believed to be a pagan tradition to thank the gods for water.

Currently a group of us get together at the beginning of August and put flowers in clay to depict a picture often based on a religious theme. Most of us have been doing this for many years (My uncle is currently in his 52nd year of ‘dressing’), I have only notched up 22 years so far.

So once again this year I put the sewing to one side and joined in.

In its basic terms a wooden structure is constructed around the well, clay (that we have had for years and soften every year by walking around in it in our wellington boots) is thrown onto the boards (very good messy fun) and troweled flat, then a picture drawn on it that we then ‘colour in’ with flowers.

We do that by putting large pieces of paper with a pencil drawn picture onto the clay then the lines are ‘drawn’ by cutting through the paper with a knife and then putting in pieces of bark before flowers are added to form the picture.

Here’s a few pictures for you to see

2014-08-08 19.06.48 2014-08-08 19.06.59 2014-08-08 19.29.47 2014-08-08 19.29.53 2014-08-09 09.46.00 2014-08-09 14.20.33 2014-08-10 10.36.40 2014-08-11 15.59.15

Its not all hard work though

Its not all hard work though

Should you wish to widen your knowledge of this odd tradition we have our own website where you can learn more

Cath. x


3 thoughts on “The ‘Art’ of Well Dressing

  1. As I originate from Derbyshire I’m well versed in well dressing, I love this tradition, Love your finished dressing, thanks for the informative post 🙂

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