History of Well Dressing

Buxton Well Dressing is an ancient custom celebrated mainly in limestone districts of the Peak District in Derbyshire. Thought to date back to Roman and Celtic times when communities would dress wells to give thanks for fresh water supplies. The tradition continues today in many towns and villages between May and September each year. Everyone from schoolchildren to grandparents pitch in to create living art installations made from flower petals and other natural materials. Designs feature everything from biblical stories to special anniversaries. Well Dressing festivals often coincide with carnivals and other special events.

Behind the scenes

Well Dressing is an art form which demands time, patience and team work. Individual petals are laid like roof tiles onto the clay in the boards. The scenic image slowly starts to appear. All this painstaking work takes about three days to complete by our many dedicated volunteers. Petals are applied inside St John’s Church.

Time Lapse Video courtesy of Anna Philips Photography

Rescheduled Buxton Well Dressings 2021

After cancelling Well Dressing in Buxton in 2020 the Well Dressing Committee was determined to carry on their ancient Derbyshire tradition, at least in part, in 2021. It was felt to be too soon to organise a Carnival but St. Ann’s Well was dressed, on show from Saturday 4th September for a week.

Just one well was dressed so that the volunteers could maintain social distancing during the process.

The design commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Peak District National Park and also the buildings of Buxton to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Pavilion Gardens and the re-opening of The Crescent.

“The countryside and the parks of our town have been such a solace during lockdown. We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful area and lovely town we wanted to celebrate these milestones”, said Christine Gould, Buxton Well Dressing Secretary.

A Blessing Service was held on Sunday 5th September at St. Ann’s Well with a small procession starting from Spring Gardens at 2pm. Music was provided by Fairfield Band.