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Dressing without the wells

08 August 2014

IT IS an art form special to Derbyshire, even though the "well dressings" are not often connected to the wells that were once so important a part of the local community. This one, with a theme commemorating the start of the First World War, is in the small village of Mellor, which is actually in Chester diocese on the Derbyshire/Cheshire border. It was designed by Louise Smith in an art-deco style, and the Vicar, the Revd Alexandra Sanders, blessed it (pictured), watched by the Rose Queen.

A much bigger display of well dressings was to be found in and around Derby Cathedral during June and early July, when children, a youth group, and "mums over 50" worked with artists from Spiral Arts to produce the first ever Well Dressing Trail around the Cathedral Quarter.

They were made in the traditional fashion, in frames packed with clay (though not first soaked in the river as they used to be), the design marked out on the clay and then each section filled in with flowers, petals, leaves, seeds, and coloured gravel. Many were displayed on the floor of the cathedral, but also around the area including the Central Library and the Tourist Information Office.

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