Well dressing / well flowering is a custom practised in the North of England in which wells, springs or streams and fountains are decorated with designs created from natural materials. The custom is usually found Derbyshire, E. Cheshire and Staffordshire.
The origins of the tradition are believed to lie in pagan tradition or in giving thanks for the purity of the water drawn from certain wells during the period of the Black Death. It has been said to have originated in Derbyshire in 1349.
Once again I feel truly privileged to live here.
Also, our clay in Cheshire isn't red.
Aren't they wonderful?! The Great Fire of London and The Battle of Hastings were my favourites although they were all spectacular. To think they are made of flower petals, seeds, and natural resources is wonderful.
They use a special clay and soak it for hours. It is dismantled after a week as the petals are starting to die off after that.
Veronica, Thank you for sharing beautiful, traditional well dressings with us. How do they get the whites in the final product so white? How does the clay color (here it's so red!) not bleed through? What happens to the artwork after seven days? The great fire representation is particularly spectacular.
I have added a paragraph above to explain that the dressings only stand for a week.
i.e. the well dressing season lasts all summer long not individual wells.
They last up to seven days and then another group of villages do their wells.
Huge quantities of clay are soaked in water for 48 hours and the flower petals and natural materials are stuck into the soaking wet clay during about 12 hours non stop work. The Dressing is then erected and the soaking wet clay keeps them moist for 7 days after which they are taken down.
They last up to seven days. The villages plan when they will put their dressing up so the E Cheshire and Derbyshire villages have well dressings somewhere in the area all summer long.
If it lasts all summer long, and the natural sources are needed for the images, how are they preserved? Flower parts would not last, which is what I thought they were for the most part.
Yes I must admit that although I loved them all, the Fire of London board was my favourite one. As we approached it actually looked like it was on fire. Spectacular artistry, skill and talent.
It is a beautiful tradition and lasts all summer long, from about May to September in fact. It brings in a lot of hospitality tourism to local villages. It only happens in this part of England.
What a nice tradition! I love, love, love the petals in the Fire of London, and am quite impressed with the other flowering boards as well!
I forgot to add that on the children's Roald Dahl Well flowering board they had done ;-
Charlie and the chocolate factory
and all out of flowers ; wonderful