Well Dressing, a strange English custom

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Well dressing is a tradition that dates back hundreds of years although its origins remain a mystery. The wells are dressed with large framed panels decorated with elaborate mosaic-like pictures made of flower petals, seeds, grasses, leaves, tree bark, berries and moss.

It takes place predominantly around the Staffordshire and Derbyshire border between May and September. The events see local people create huge floral designs to dress their natural springs and wells – with neighbouring villages often getting somewhat competitive.

The designs are decided upon months before they are unveiled and are not revealed until the last possible minute.

Sir Richard FitzHerbert, owner of the Tissington estate where a Well Dressings will take place over a seven-day period from 29 May this year, said 35,000 people were expected to visit the village which has a population of only 110 residents.

“Each of the six wells will take about 200 man hours to complete,” he said.

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The designs are not revealed until the last possible minute.

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