West Hallam - The
w/e 19 July 2009
All this week's pictures were taken
with a Kodak DX6490
The Ilkeston Festival 2009 ran for a fortnight and
one of its final events was the opening day of the West Hallam
Well Dressing Festival. In effect this extended the Ilkeston
Festival by another week as the well dressings in the neighbouring
village remained in place for several days.
Anyone who has ever been to a Derbyshire Well Dressing Festival
expects to see beautiful art works created by placing natural
substances such as flower petals and leaves into panels of clay
that are traditionally displayed as thanksgiving for the water
supply. That is the essence of well dressings in its simplest
form. Anyone who has visited West Hallam's Festival on opening
day in recent years will also have seen street entertainment,
charity stalls, Brass Bands, displays by local groups, dancing
in the streets and this year's was no exception. Something new
this year was an Arts Market and a Children's Fantasy Creature
Another new addition and being promoted by at least two living
characters was a Scarecrow Trail around the village. Trail maps
were on sale with prizes being offered for the return of them
completed with all the scarecrows' names. Not that I am suggesting
anything but two scarecrows outside the property next door were
labelled "The Odd Couple"!
Well dressings date back as far as the Celts or even earlier
and at one time were banned by the Church as water worship but
they are now fully embraced and a short service and blessing
at each of the wells takes place. Several of the scarecrows on
the trail had a religious theme with a wedding group of a groom,
vicar and bride on someone's front lawn and "The Wesleys"
outside the Methodist Church. Two more groups were on the drive
to St Wilfrid's Church including the one pictured that was labelled
"Jesus said let the children come to me."
There were over sixty scarecrows in total scattered around the
village and far too many to visit on the opening day of the Festival
so we returned after the weekend to see how many we could find.
Unfortunately in the intervening period a few had lost their
labels and some had succumbed to mindless vandalism. "Beryl"
at the Bottle Kiln had escaped unharmed by taking refuge in a
shed but she had succeeded in startling the gentleman who opened
the door on Monday morning by her unexpected presence.
Many individual householders participated in the Scarecrow Trail
and erected figures outside their properties taking a variety
of themes as their inspiration. Here we have "Charlie"
made by a seven year old with a little help from his gran; the
fairy like "Princess Eliza-Rae" and "Walker Deplank",
an impressive pirate.
In the centre of the village around the well dressed by the Community
Pre School, children's characters were the order of the day with
"Old Mother Hubbard", "Mr McGregor" and "Charlie
the Clown" in close attendance.
The economic situation did not escape attention either with "The
Banker's Lament" and "Guy Fawkes" both making
Legendary figures were also prominent in several displays like
"Robin Hood and his Friends" who were keeping a watchful
eye on "The Drinker" relaxing outside the White Hart.
A legend from another era, the inimitable "Charlie Chaplin"
stood guard over a finely manicured lawn whilst an icon from
today with a neat play on words that substituted "Scare"
for "Square" was "Sponge Bob Scare Pants"
who peered over a garden wall from a border of yellow flowers.
As well as the individual scarecrows several tableaux had been
created by various groups in the village. This picture shows
just two - "Grace Guide" and "Betty Brownie"
- of four by the West Hallam Guides. "Beth Brownie"
and "Georgia Guide" are not shown but were off to the
left and right respectively.
Some people went to great heights to show their scarecrows to
good effect including "Robbie" climbing the wall at
the Newdigate Arms, "Telegram Sam" up a pole in The
Village and "Mr Sooty, the Sweep" poking out of a chimney
also in The Village. There were of course many more scarecrows
around and about and I even managed to photograph the majority
of them. There were of course far too many to include all of
them here so hope you like my selection. I know in various parts
of the country similar events are held at regular intervals but
this is the first time a scarecrow trail has been organised locally.
I am almost certain though that the response of the West Hallam
community and the feedback from the visitors will inevitably,
despite those irresponsible acts of vandalism, lead to a repeat
in future years. I congratulate all those who participated this
year, especially for their ingenuity and look forward to see
what they come up with next time. These three scarecrows pictured
certainly reached the high spots but the whole event was a high
spot of the Well Dressing Festival.