Every year from May to September some 35,000 visitors travel to the Peak District and Derbyshire in order to see the well dressings displayed in over 80 villages and towns. It is sometimes incorrectly believed that well dressings are unique to this area. Although this is not the case and they also form part of the tradition of other UK regions (and even other countries), it is certainly correct that well dressing is most closely associated with the Peak District. Buxton is host to an annual Wells Dressing Festival established in 1840 and three wells are dressed in the town every year. Market Place Well and St. Ann’s Well in The Crescent are dressed by volunteers and the Children’s Well in Spring Gardens is dressed by pupils from Buxton Community School with teams spending as many as 300 hours on just one creation.
Buxton Well Dressing Festival 2018
The 2018 Buxton Well Dressing Festival will run from 8th July to 16th July.
The well dressings will be made between Thursday 5th to Saturday 7th July. Pop in to see the process at St John’s Church.
The Blessing of the Wells will take place on Sunday 8th July 2018, 1.45pm at St Anne’s Church, Bath Road followed by a processional march to the three wells. The Crowning Ceremony of the newly elected Queen and her Rosebud then takes place at 3.15pm at St John’s Church.
James Mellors Carnival Fun Fair will be on the Market Place from Wednesday 11th to Sunday 15th July.
Carnival Day takes place on Saturday 14th July 2018. The day starts with the Road Race, run by Buxton & District Athletic Club (pun intended), with the parade beginning at 2pm and ending around 4pm. There will be music and entertainment from 4.15pm in the Pavilion Gardens including a funfair, the Billerettes and the Buxton Lions Duck Race along the River Wye.
For more information click here.
More about the annual festival….
The origins of dressing wells (or springs) are uncertain. The custom is thought to have its roots in pagan offerings to water gods. The Celts revered certain rocks, trees and water and obviously water is essential to life. Particular wells or springs were thought to have healing powers and, throughout early Christian times, offerings continued to be made to them. Over the years the Church tried to outlaw the practice but it seemed to survive nevertheless. Nowadays, as part of the annual well dressing festivals, the wells are blessed by local clergy.
In 1863, Buxton Station was opened by the London and North Western railway line. A few days after the opening between 20,000 and 30,000 people arrived by train to view that year’s well dressings. The popularity of this unusual art may have reached its zenith at that point but the town is ensuring that the tradition does not die out. Buxton Wells Dressing festival takes place each July and includes the opportunity to see the dressings being created, the festival fair, the crowning of the Festival Queen and Rosebud and carnival day.
So what is the attraction? Nowadays we are surrounded by so much which is artificial and mass-produced. In contrast the uniquely detailed mosaic pictures of well dressing are made using only natural materials. Displayed outdoors, the well dressings only last for little over a week (depending on the weather) but this brief existence somehow adds to their beauty.