An Afternoon at Tissington
For seven days following Ascension Day, the Derbyshire village of Tissington, in the heart of Derbyshire Limestone country, plays host to there annual Well Dressing Celebrations. Normally, the village is a quiet haven, but following the Blessing of the 6 Wells, Tissington becomes a magnet for visitors to view the creative talent of the villagers…. more about that creative talent in a moment. For now take a look at Town Well, my favourite of this years, maybe because of its traditional style. andits telling of the Four Seasons….
Well Dressing is a Derbyshire tradition, that some say, dates back to Pagan times…. a tradition of blessing the springs (wells) for the fresh water that springs from the ground in an otherwise dry environment. Like may pagan forms of worship, the Christian Churches adopted the practice. Then for a time it fell into disuse, then along came the Black Death. Tissington, unlike neighbouring Derbyshire villages escaped unscathed. It was the purity and plentiful supply of fresh water from these 6 wells, that was given credit for Tissington’s good fortune in those devastating times. To celebrate an annual custom of decorating the wells with flowers was revived. There have also been periods of drought which has seen this farming community keen to continue the tradition of Blessing the Wells… and apart from a pause during the wars, it is a tradition continued each year. A Church Blessing and a religious Prayer Procession arround the 6 wells marks the start and for the seven following days all visitors are made welcome.
Here are some of the other Dressed Wells this year…
Creating the Displays
The displays boards are a unique art form. Wood frames are soaked in the village pond for over a week, once soaked they are filled with local clay. Onto this clay base a design is inscribed… then the real skill begins. Individual flower petals, seeds and other natural materials are ‘pricked’ into the clay…. the resulting designs are both colourful, but also have a unique dimension, adding to the image. Every year there is a new theme, this year the theme marked 100 years of Disney. But each still have a religious message.
Tissington is often described as the village with a church on a small hill and Saint Marys Church does play centre stage. For this one week Tissington is far from its rural quiet norm….. but still retains it character….
In a modern world of rush and push, of finger clicking screens and mobiles in hand, Tissingtons Well Dressings is a breath of welcome fresh air.
Wherever you are this spring morning….
Please Remember ….
Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other
(C) David Oakes 2023