August 14, 2009

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A Well Dressed Well

image by Ron Young

Well Dressing (or decorating) is an old tradition that is found mainly in Derbyshire, England. Originally, Well Dressing was intended to give thanks for a plentiful supply of clean water in the village and originally had a religious theme but in recent years many themes have been used as a basis of Well Dressings. This one in the village of Barlow (near Chesterfield, Derbyshire, UK) commemorates perhaps the most astonishing achievement of the 20th century. Most Well Dressings are constructed on the same principals. A strong wooden frame is covered in a layer of wet clay, which is trowelled flat. A picture, drawn on paper is transferred to the clay and the various outlines cut through and marked into the clay, in the case of Barlow Well Dressings the outlines are invariably marked out using pieces of thin wood veneer. The outlines created are filled in using various plant materials - flower heads, leaves, seeds, twigs etc. Well Dressings take about 2 weeks to construct and last just over a week or 10 days before the clay shrinks and the flowers die. This picture was completed and blessed by a local Church minister yesterday (12th August 2009).

Ron Young

Related Links
Dressing wells

Yesterday's LPOD: Land Lost in Time

Tomorrow's LPOD: Milk of Plato


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