Chesterfield Well Dressing Festival
Well dressing is an ancient custom unique to Derbyshire. Chesterfield began well dressing in 1864 when the Town Pump in Market Place was decorated after a very dry summer. The custom died out, but was revived in 1991 when a well was dressed as part of an exhibition about Derbyshire traditions.
Well dressing is the art of making pictures using only natural materials, but this doesn’t explain how such intricate and detailed pictures can be made using only seeds, berries, leaves, flowers… Look at the pictures – can you see where we used dried camomile flowers, alder cones, lavender, melon seeds, peppercorns, onion skin and chrysanthemum and gerbera petals?
Whichever method is used, a well dressing takes up to 7 days of work, by a whole team of people, to finish. And it will only last about a week before the clay dries and cracks, and the flowers fade. Then it’s taken down and the boards stored away – until next year.
The wells will be in place from Saturday 7 to Saturday 14 September.
The well dressing at the town pump in the market place, designed by Chesterfield Borough Council, will feature Beauty and the Beast and the one in the porch at St Mary and All Saints’ Church, designed by church members, will feature All Things Bright and Beautiful – the famous hymn written by Cecil Frances Alexander.
This year will also see a third well dressing designed by the Friends of Spital Cemetery and on display at the cemetery chapel which celebrates the work carried out in the cemetery to dedicate an area as a garden of remembrance for those left behind after the First World War.
Groups welcome. Free coach parking by arrangement – book with Chesterfield Visitor Information Centre (Tel: 01246 345777)