Have you ever heard of Well Dressing? If you’re not originally from Derbyshire, it’s quite possible that this ancient custom has passed you by completely. However, if you’re visiting us, we’d love you to take the time to experience these lovely traditional events and find out more about what Well Dressing is, and what it means to us.
The origins of well dressing – the decoration of wells with flowers taking place from Whitsuntide and throughout the summer months – is a little bit of a mystery. Historians believe that the tradition developed from a pagan custom to appease the gods and ensure a continued supply of water, and that the custom was later adopted by Christians. As to why this tradition developed in Derbyshire (almost alone) and why the custom in this county is so much more elaborate in its celebration of wells and water than the rest of the UK, is a question that remains unanswered.
The Well Dressing story says that Derbyshire’s Tissington is the true heart of Well Dressing. The village has spearheaded the custom since a foray of activity during the 17th Century, due to (allegedly) giving a great deal of thanks through the practice of Well Dressings for the village surviving the plague, that was rampant at the time.
Beginning with simple flower arrangements around a well in early practices, the line of Derbyshire celebration progressed to making elaborate pictures crafted from petals pressed onto clay by the time the Victorians were around. And the well dressing enthusiasts didn’t stop at wells! Frankly, we’re keen to decorate all sorts of water-related items! Water pumps, taps or fountains are all recipients of this fantastic, gentle custom.
It also seems that when Derbyshire residents moved counties, they often took the tradition with them, so the Well Dressing phenomena can now be found into Staffordshire and beyond – although at Oaklands, being a Derbyshire family, we’d still argue that our Well Dressings are most certainly the best!
To find out more about Well Dressing and Well Dressing events in Derbyshire, log on to http://welldressing.com