Well Dressings are unique to the area and more than 80 towns and villages proudly display their floral masterpieces next to wells and water features.
Well Dressings are a tradition which is believed to have been brought to the Peak District and parts of Staffordshire by the Romans or the Celts, to give thanks for the county’s fresh water springs. They are created lovingly and painstakingly between the months of May and September by groups of dedicated volunteers.
Teams of villagers create detailed mosaics using natural materials such as leaves, moss, flowers, petals, sticks and even coffee beans on a bed of moist clay. The clay is usually locally sourced and it is puddled to make it smooth and workable. This is done by putting it in an old bath or sink and working it with the hands or feet ( kids love to do this!) until it is smooth like plaster. The boards are studded with nails or pegs and the clay is thrown onto to it in handfuls and carefully smoothed out. It has to be the right consistency though, too wet & it will fall off, too dry & it will not stick!
The design is outlined in the clay and the picture is created using natural materials which are positioned facing downwards so any rain can wash off. The boards are then put together to create one amazing design.
Then the villagers have a party!! Most towns & villages have a blessing ceremony , then a carnival takes place where the whole village gets together and puts on entertainment for families and children and make fantastic cakes and food for the visitors. The carnival last from a few days to up to a week, no longer or the clay will crack and the petals fall off!
The first Well Dressing is in Milford, on May 6 to 10 not far from Kedleston Hall, a National Trust property. You could make two visits in one day !
Go to www.welldressings.com for more information on dates and locations.