This year the festival celebrates its 175th anniversary. The festival as we now know it originated in Buxton 1840, The 6th Duke of Devonshire arranged for a fountain to be built as a ready and reliable source of water, a great convenience for the towns people of Higher Buxton, no longer would they have to travel down the hill to St Anne’s well (and then back up again). As a show of gratitude the locals decorated, or dressed the new fountain. The workforce were entertained and imbibed with ale, whilst the town’s folk danced in celebration deep into the night.
Well dressing has been a Derbyshire custom since the mid 1300’s and the time of the Black Death, the purification properties of the waters were widely celebrated.
The wells are made from wooden frames, filled with clay. The design is marked into the clay base and natural materials such as moss, lichen, bark, sand and petals are used to create the stunning murals. The petallers are local volunteers, the work takes place at St Johns Church in the days running up to the blessing ceremony, visitors can observe the process but for those of you that didn’t get to see it, here’s a wonderful time lapse video showing how it’s done.
The well in Higher Buxton is situated on the Market Place, in the same spot as the original dressed fountain, all those years ago. The theme is Buxton water.
In the crescent at St Anne’s well (the source of the world famous Buxton Water) the well is decorated with an image celebrating the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta.
In Spring Gardens the children of Buxton Community School design their own well, three panels displaying the themes chosen by them.
The festival runs from July 4th – 13th with events throughout the week (see festival guide for details) The newly crowned local carnival Queen will head the carnival procession through the town on Saturday July 11th and a fun fair will be in higher Buxton for the week.
- Lady Sky