This film is part of Free

Ashford in the Water Well Dressing

Attention to detail, dedication and an artist's touch are needed to create the designs made from seeds and petals that go on to adorn the wells of Derbyshire.

Amateur film 1963 26 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for Media Archive for Central England


The village of Ashford in the Water is the location for this ambitious amateur production that records a custom practised in villages across the Peak District. Although suffering somewhat in the sound department, the vivid images more than make up for it: from the boards being soaked in the River Wye to the intricate task of adding thousands of petals and seeds to form the elaborate designs which, after a few short days, will again return to the waters of the river.

Well dressing is a tradition that stretches back to outbreaks of Bubonic Plague in the fourteenth century. The practise in the Derbyshire and Staffordshire Peak District is however more associated with nineteenth and twentieth century revivals. Ashford in the Water continues to provide a well dressing display as part of a Christian festival celebrated around Trinity Sunday.