Well dressing is one of the best known and most popular and colourful customs in Derbyhire and the Peak District. Well dressing dates back hundreds of years, and though there have been religious associations, the true origins remain unknown. Every year from May to September thousands of visitors from both the UK and abroad travel to the Derbyshire in order to see the well dressings displayed in over 80 Derbyhire and the Peak District villages and towns.
Each village taking part in this custom has its own jealously guarded version and designs worked out months beforehand are not revealed until the last possible moment.
Todays wells are decorated with flower petals, berries, moss, cones and seeds, which are pressed into clay held in a wooden framework. It is a difficult task combining hard work and artistic dexterity. The locally dug clay is cleansed of all impurities and is often mixed with salt and trod to the right consistency. The frames are then soaked to prevent the clay from drying out. The frames often have rows of protruding nails which help to prevent the damp clay from falling away when the frames are standing.
Some villages allow you to view the making of the Well Dressings and the Dressings often form part of a village or town festival which might continue for afew days or longer. The Wells are also usually blessed at about the same time as they go on display.