Well Dressing is considered to have originated from a pagan custom of making offerings to the gods of wells and springs to ensure a continued supply of fresh water. Originally just a presentation of flowers and fruit, the large picture made of flowers is considered to be a mid 19th century tradition and is mostly local to Derbyshire, although a few towns and villages in surrounding counties (Staffordshire and South Yorkshire for example) have also taken up the custom.
Holymoorside’s well dressing first appears in the Derbyshire Courier in 1848, although it seems it was already a well established tradition. The dressing was at the ‘Whispering Well’, near the Star Inn, rather than its current location.
After completion there is a blessing service at the completed Well Dressing on the Thursday evening, with music provided by Holymoorside Brass Band.
A ‘Churches Together’ service is held for the community on the Sunday.
Donations by visitors to the well are given to charity. The charity each year is influenced by our theme, or chosen in memory of members of the village. We have supported various local and national charities, such as Macmillan Nurses, and Ashgate and Bluewell Wood hospices.
Eventually the flowers fade, and after about two weeks we dismantle the wells. We strip away the flowers, but the clay and frames are
re-used every year.
Well Dressing is a community event, and everyone is welcome – please come and join in. We are always looking for people to continue the tradition. You can do as little or as much as you like: art work, decision making, heavy lifting, throwing clay (good for the skin?), flowering, making tea! Please contact us if you would like to know more.