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British Life & Culture

Special Events & Celebrations

by Mandy Barrow

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Well Dressing

Well dressing is the art of decorating (dressing) wells, springs or other water sources with pictures made of growing things.

This ancient custom is popular all over Derbyshire and is thought to date back to the Celts or even earlier.

The wells are dressed with large framed panels decorated with elaborate mosaic-like pictures made of flower petals, seeds, grasses, leaves, tree bark, berries and moss.

Wooden trays are covered with clay, mixed with water and salt. A design is drawn and its outline pricked out onto the surface of the clay.

The design is then filled in with natural materials, predominantly flower petals and mosses, but also beans, seeds and small cones.

Well-dressings are beautiful and delicate and take a lot of work to make, and yet they only last for a few days.

After the well dressing is erected next to the well it is blessed in a short outdoor service.

Eyam, like many of the towns and villages, has several wells and a a short procession from well to well is carried out during the blessing of the wells.

The well dressing season spans from May through to late September.

See the photos showing how pupils at Stretton Handley Primary School made their Well Dressing.

Further information about Well Dressing

When and where you can see Well Dressings


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Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites and are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant. 
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.