Wirksworth Carnival ​& Well Dressing

 MAY DAY BANK HOLIDAY 24th - 26th May 2014

Well Dressing is a Peak District tradition, in which wells are decorated with natural materials, such as flower petals, moss, fruit skins and seeds; to create fantastic designs. 


Wirksworth has celebrated the once Pagan custom since 1827, to celebrate the first piped water into the town. It continues today as a unique spectacle for locals and visitors and involves many groups, schools, churches and individuals.


It is believed Well Dressing began, as a Pagan custom to make sacrifice to water Gods. People believed that without this sacrifice, the water would no longer flow and lead to famine.


For centuries, human and animal sacrifice was made, thankfully over time these traditions ended and were replaced with garlands and branches being draped over the wells. 


Today, each year Wells are hosted in various places around the town and much more intricately designed than in Pagan times!



The Stages of Well Dressings:


  • Galvanised nails are hammered into a wooden frame to keep the clay from falling off.


  • The boards are soaked to prevent the clay from drying out too rapidly once it has been applied. 


  • Clay is mixed with salt and water, known as 'puddling' and spread over the boards.


  • Each organiser has decided on a design and this is traced onto the clay by pricking holes through paper onto the clay, to mark the outline of the design.


  • The outline is then marked in the clay with alder cones or black lichen.


  • The first materials to be laid on the design are dry and non-perishable such as lichen, cones, seeds, feathers, fruit peel and bark. Later, fresh leaves and flower petals are added such as lime, beech, ivy, yew, privet, hydrangea and evergreens.


Find out more about Well Dressing - Wirksworth Heritage Centre and Discover Derbyshire


Special Thanks goes to Margaret Pearson, organiser of the Well Dressings.

Calling all Locals!

We all have a desire to make the

Well Dressings bigger & better.


Get together with: 

Family & Friends

Neighbours

Colleagues


We have 10 wells this year for you to view - maps available on the day


Contact us for information on how to showcase your

OWN DRESSED WELL!

​Well Dressings 2013