Bollington, Cheshire Well Dressings July 2016

by Veronica

Well dressings date back to pagan times and today saw me out and about in East Cheshire again ; this time looking at some remarkable flower artistry.

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.

Stopped here for lunch
Stopped here for lunch
The Shakespeare well
The Shakespeare well

The Bollington well dressing trail

The first well Flash Lane

Derbyshire has been the traditional place for Summer Well Dressings but in the last few years, the idea has spread to the East Cheshire villages. Yesterday I was at Bollington just outside Macclesfield. This year the wells were dressed according to anniversaries ; as it is 2016 all 6 wells were dedicated to years ending with  6  for 2016.

The first well was on Flash Lane outside the Cock and Peasant pub which is dated on its date post as being built in 1753. We parked at this old English pub and walked about 30 feet to where the Mayor of Bollington was doing the official opening where the wells receive a Christian blessing. This being the North of England Summer, it was a soaking wet day.

Flash Lane Well
Flash Lane Well

The dressing/ flowering was all made out of flower petals, seeds and natural materials.

Shakespeare's face was made with different shades of egg shells
Shakespeare's face was made with different shades of egg shells

Making the dressings

Each well, spring or fountain was decorated with flowers to give a gift to the water gods for the gift of water.

The dressings are all made out of natural materials from round about....sheep wool, flower petals twigs, egg shells etc. They are then mounted close to water.

The Shakespeare well above, for Shakespeare's  anniversary has used seeds, coffee beans, corn kernels, egg shells  and flower petals. These are stuck into clay which has been soaked for about 48 hours.

Pictures are drawn onto paper, and then the picture is pinned onto the wet clay. That is when a massive community activity takes place and the flower pictures are assembled. The petals  and everything else are stuck into the wet clay. They are then erected near water.

I was delighted to see a children's well; Yes indeed the children of the village have started learning these old craft skills, a new generation to preserve our customs and culture for the future. They had made a Roald Dahl anniversary board.

Battle of The Somme Centenary July 1916- 2016

The Somme anniversary this weekend had a beautiful and poignant commemorative Flowering Board. The villagers used camomile leaves, coffee beans, leaves and poppy petals, Beautiful.

Battle of the Somme
Battle of the Somme

From Flash Lane into the village

From Flash Lane we walked into the village. The village children did the Dressing below. It is ion the main street through Bollington.

The children's Roald Dahl well dressing
The children's Roald Dahl well dressing
Battle of Hastings Flower Dressing
Battle of Hastings Flower Dressing

Battle of Hastings 1066

The Third well Clarence Mill

I loved this. It was magnificent. The villagers used corn kernels, leaves. petals and seeds and made a Bayeux tapestry style board.

The Norman long ship below was a superbly accurate description but done out of flower leaves and petals.

All the hair in the Well Dressings is made of cat fur.

This well was up a side road towards Clarence Mill on the left off the main street.

Hastings
Hastings

Queen's 90th Birthday

4th well is in the war memorial park

The Queen's 90th Birthday got a Commemorative board. Again the board below was made entirely out of seeds, corn kernels, petals  and twigs. I loved how they did the Tower of London Beefeaters!

Queen's 90th birthday
Queen's 90th birthday
Beefeater detail
Beefeater detail

5th well

Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin
Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin

Winnie the Pooh

The Winnie The Pooh board was beautifully made with Winnie The Pooh done in corn kernals and Christopher Robin was made out single hydrangea petals. Eyeore the donkey was made out of lavender seeds.

The water under the bridge in the Winnie the Pooh pictures is made out of wafer thin leeks.

Winnie the Pooh
Winnie the Pooh
balloon made out of  hydrangea petals
balloon made out of hydrangea petals

My favourite board ; Great Fire of London

This was a masterpiece. It had a 3D quality to it the artistry was so good. The clouds were from sheep wool, the fire was made out of petals, the houses were made from twigs and flowers.

The child's bonnet, hair and family's clothes had been re-created in flowers in perfect 17thC detail.

Simply marvellous.

The flames in this Flowering feel almost real,  the artistry is of such quality. And it's all done with individual flower petals.

The Ancient Well Board
The Ancient Well Board
Great fire of London
Great fire of London

Visit Bollington if you can this week. It's beautiful in itself but especially beautiful with the Well Flowerings. Maps of the Well Dressing trail are available in shops.

Water everywhere in Bollington

Water
Water

ADDENDUM

The Well Dressings stand for a week as the soaking wet clay keeps them fresh for up to seven days. It is then taken down. Then other villages open their displays and so it continues around here for all summer.

Updated: 07/21/2016, Veronica
 
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Veronica on 07/07/2016

BSG TY

I have added a paragraph above to explain that the dressings only stand for a week.

Veronica on 07/06/2016

i.e. the well dressing season lasts all summer long not individual wells.

Veronica on 07/06/2016

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.

blackspanielgallery on 07/06/2016

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.

Veronica on 07/06/2016

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.

Mira on 07/06/2016

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!

Veronica on 07/05/2016

I forgot to add that on the children's Roald Dahl Well flowering board they had done ;-

Giant peach
esio trot
Matilda
a genie
Charlie and the chocolate factory

and all out of flowers ; wonderful

Veronica on 07/03/2016

Yes, it should be a lovely day and I am looking forward to your son's wedding; our 3rd family wedding this year in fact.

The wedding is on the other side of the village.

frankbeswick on 07/03/2016

As a matter of interest, folks,Bollington is where in this coming August we are holding my son's wedding.

Veronica on 07/03/2016

TY.

You are right about that advantage of Wizzley. It is a bringing together of beautiful cultures from all over the world to help us learn, respect and understand each other. Long may it continue, grow and develop. Peace to all.


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