The ancient art of Wells dressing is still carried out here in the Shire, towns and villages all over the region dress and bless water sources. The practice is reputed to have originated in the time of the Black Death, when a clean water source was vital.
The wells are dressed with colourful scenes, made entirely of natural materials, petals, leaves, moss, lichens, bark, sand and rocks are pressed into clay frames to depict an image, these might be a biblical tableau, a celebration of an anniversary or local event.
The wells dressing boards take several days to complete, with teams of volunteers marking out the image and placing each petal and pebble with precise care. See the time and skill needed here.
In Buxton three wells are dressed. The first is on the Market place. It celebrates the famous British novelist Roald Dahl, marking 100 years since his birth, the well a homage to one of his most famous characters, the wonderful Willy Wonka.
The Children’s well is located at the end of Spring Gardens and is designed by local school children, this year’s theme, endangered species.
St Ann’s Well in the Crescent is the location of Buxton’s famous water. The well here marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Lancelot “Capability” Brown in his honour 2016 has been declared the “Year of the English Garden” Capability Brown influenced gardens nationwide, a fine local example here in The Shire is the seat of the Duke of Devonshire, the magnificent Chatsworth.
The Wells Dressing festival runs for a week, beginging with the blessing of the wells and the crownig of the carnival queen and her retinue. Celebrations and events take place throughout the week with a grand carnival through the town on the Saturday.
The event runs from the 3rd – 11th of July.
- Lady Sky