Well Dressings

celebrate-well-dressing shakespeare-well-dressing

A huge part of any village life is tradition – and it’s no different in the village of Litton! Every year, on the third week of June, there is an event known as the blessing of the well – at which locals and anyone wanting a day out, gather to sing hymns and view the beautifully crafted well dressings displayed outside the village church and primary school, accompanied by the local brass band.

Well dressings, simply put, are huge boards of clay that have natural resources such as petals and herbs pressed onto them, creating a beautiful picture, often with local or traditional meaning. The origins of these wells is something largely unknown, but historians believe they were originally used by Christians as a way of thanking God for the gift of fresh water; and for sparing them from the plague, which famously devastated the nearby village of Eyam in the 17th century – a great, historical place to visit!

One of the two dressings created in Litton is annually put together by the children at the local primary school, and at the blessing of the well ceremony, another part of the celebrations is the children of the school performing maypole dancing in traditional Victorian caps and aprons – very in fitting with the historical value of the wells! The afternoon is wrapped up with the opening of a café in the primary school, providing freshly baked cakes and scones along with teas and coffees. What better way to spend a summer’s afternoon in the Peak District?