Brackenfield and Middleton-By-Youlgrave - Well Dressings
w/e 25 May 2003

During the summer of 2003, a tradition almost unique to Derbyshire, will be continued at many villages throughout the county. At the last count you will be able to see well dressings at 76 locations between May and September, most of them within the county boundary. So what is "Well Dressing"? Click here to open a window to read a leaflet about the tradition. The first well dressings of the season took place at the beginning of May and this Bank Holiday weekend there were dressings on view at five more locations. We visited two of them and passed close to a third.

The first was at the small village of Brackenfield close to Ogston Reservoir. This view of a dressed well at Nether Farm is typical of the Derbyshire countryside in summer. To see a large version (133kb) of the above picture click here. To see a large version of a well dressing you'd best come to Derbyshire!

Brackenfield Parish Church

The theme for all the well dressings in Brackenfield this year was "The Environment" and the contribution outside the Parish Church showed an otter with the message "Do not pollute our waterways".
Opera & Ballet

As part of the well dressing celebrations, the Church also had a flower festival within its walls. Here the theme was "Opera and Ballet". Beautiful flower displays adorned all of the church (top left) with "The Nutcracker" being the theme near the altar (bottom left) and "The Mikado" near the lectern (right).
God's Gifts

The Methodist Church also had a flower festival where "God's Gifts" was the theme. From music to technology, all aspects of God's gifts to man were illustrated and every nook and cranny of the small church was filled with flowers.
Brackenfield Wells

Outside, the environment theme was well illustrated around the village. "Fish got to swim and birds got to fly", "Save our woodlands" and "The earth is for everyone" were the messages on the three dressings shown above. Surprisingly the pump on the village green was not dressed but did have a plaque that read: "This former working well was reopened to celebrate millennium 2000. The well supplied water for many years but fell into disuse when the mains supply reached this part of the village. Opened by Gladwyn Turbutt, High Sheriff of Derbyshire 1998-99 on the 25th September 1999".
This Way To The Bull

The piece de resistance though overlooked the green where, alongside a signpost pointing to the other wells, a large panel depicted a friendly looking bull peering over a style - testament indeed to the craftsmanship and artistic talent of Derbyshire folk and just two more of God's gifts to be thankful for.

The other village we visited was as far west of Matlock as Brackenfield is to the east. Here at Middleton-By-Youlgrave, there was only one well dressed but with bunting across the streets, a variety of market stalls, a barbecue, bouncy castle and a host of other entertainments for both children and adults, the weekend was certainly going with a swing and everyone was taking the first part of the message on the well dressing to heart. "Live as if you'll die tomorrow, farm as if you'll live forever".

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