Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tissington Well Dressing

Last week DH and I (and Bilbo Baggins of course!) went to Tissington in Derbyshire to see the Well Dressing. Perhaps it would be truer to say that I went to see the Well Dressing and DH and BB came along for the ride:) Here is a link to a post I did in 2007 which gives the history of well dressing and a brief explanation of how the panels are made. Tissington dresses six wells and it has a history of doing so since the mid 14th century with very few breaks. Tissington escaped the ravages of the Black Death in 1348-49 and the villagers believed that this was thanks to the purity of their well water. Above is the first of the wells on our tour which is known as Hands Well. You will see more detail if you click on the photos to enlarge them.

A one way system is in place during the well dressing week and we parked in a field and were given a little map of the village with all the wells marked. Just up the lane from Hands Well was this fabulous stone trough which has probably been there nearly as long as the wells.

This is Coffin Well and if you look at the shape of the well you can see why. 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Flying Corps which eventually became the Royal Air Force in 1919.

DH took a photo of Coffin Well which shows the shape more clearly than mine does. He's a much better photographer than I am:)

This is the village pond - spot the ducks:) There's no doubt that Tissington is a remarkably pretty village but it was jam packed when we were there as it was the first warm sunny day since March.

This was my favourite well dressing by a long way - I love The Gruffalo stories and so do all my grandchildren. Two elderly ladies who were looking at it didn't know the story so I gave them a brief outline and they said I should be telling stories on television! I don't think so......

Yew Tree Well - if you look at the sides of the main picture you will see the emblems of England - rose, Scotland - thistle, Ireland - shamrock and Wales - leeks.

Tissington Hall which I shall go back and visit one day when the village isn't so busy. Built in 1609 by Francis Fitzherbert it is still lived in by his descendents.

Hall Well which unsurprisingly is across the road from the Hall. I love the seahorses and shells on this one. This was B Baggins favourite because a channeled stream runs down the side of the road from here so he was able to lie down and cool off and have a drink though we always carry water and a small plastic dish for him in hot weather.

St Mary's church dates back to about 1100 and is another place to go back to on a quieter day, it is probably a lovely interior but it was so full of chairs, a screen and video equipment and various other stuff that you could barely tell it was a church at all. They were having hourly film shows about Well Dressing hence not only the normals pews but the extra chairs.

I did take a couple of photos but had to just stand where I could find a space so none of them are very good. This is a monument to Francis Fitzherbert (lower section) who died in 1619 and his son John Fitzherbert (upper section) who died in 1642 - I'm not sure whether this is a tomb or a memorial. Francis is the one who built Tissington Hall.

There is a wonderful Norman chancel arch but this is all I can show you because the rest was covered by the film screen!. It has the typical chevron decoration of the period. I did a course on recognizing diffrent periods of church architecture last year and though I don't remember much I can always pick out Norman windows and arches now:)

The simple tub shaped font is carved with rather rustic looking animals but it's over 900 years old which makes it rather special I think. I crouched on the floor wedged between a chair and the entrance to take this, I couldn't get round it or move further back so it is what it is.

The last of the wells was the Children's Well which is decorated by the children from the village school. I imagine that many of the adult well dressers will have learnt their skills as children. It is a skill too, making one of these pictures is time consuming and fiddly.

Finally on the way back to the car we passed this lovely old barn. There were lots of lovely old buildings in Tissington and a really fantastic shop called Edward & Vintage so we shall be going back at some point. I shall be gone for a few days now as early tomorrow morning I'm off to Suffolk to spend the Jubilee weekend with my son Neil and his family. Have a great Bank Holiday weekend if you are in the UK and just a great weekend if you are elsewhere in the world. Many Commonwealth countries will be celebrating Her Majesty the Queen's 60 years on the throne with us of course, it will be a great occasion .


MorningAJ said...

We haven't been to any well dressings yet this year. I must make an effort to go and see a couple of them.

Thanks for the visit to Tissington.

Kathy said...

What a lovely post. I was lucky enough to visit the well dressing last year. It's a such a nice place to visit, but very crowded. I'd love to see it all one evening when everyone has gone home!

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Just for a moment there I was back in Tissington on a warm sunny day! Thanks for the memories, Rowan.

Diane said...

I love Tissington - Ive never been to the Well Dressings there though - lovely xxxx

Louise said...

I knew I'd missed it when we went on Sunday but I really hoped the boards would still be up. Can't believe I missed the gruffalo! Oh well, at least I've seen a photo. Great post, really enjoyed it!

PS got your email, I don't think that bench is a peak district 50 one as the poem seems a bit long and you say the writing is around the side - the 50 benches all look the same, writing on top in four lines, but I could be wrong!

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

Oh I loved this post - such history - such loveliness in the well dressings. My heart yearns to be there - to walk among the history - to see the countryside and the castles and churches.

I like the Gruffalo best - that is one of my grandson's favorite stories.

Granny Sue said...

What an intriguing tradition, Rowan. Thanks for the adventure :) I don't know Gruffalo stories either, but I think I need to find them.

Rosie said...

I like Tissington there are some lovely buildings but it is always very busy. I have happy memories of childhood visits to the Well Dressings but haven't seen them for years so it was great to see your photos. Love the Gruffalo:)

Roy said...

Very interesting post D.
I had read your previous post before on the custom of Well Dressing.
I like the style of church (St Mary's), its plain and simple with a square tower and what one would expect a country church to look like.

Donna Heber said...

A wonderful post with lots of history!

Jessica Cangiano said...

What a fascinating idea, I've never seen anything like this here in Canada, and loved getting a chance to see some of the well dressed wells in your beautiful corner of the world, dear Rowan.

Thank you very much for your quartet of blog comments this morning - you're too sweet! I'm delighted to know that the vintage banana cookie recipe caught your eye and that you hope to make it some time. According to the person who posted that image initially on Flickr, it hails from a recipe booklet called " to serve them" from 1941.

Many thanks again & have a splendidly lovely day!
♥ Jessica

Bella said...

Hi Rowan,
Oh thanks so much for sharing your journeys... breaktaking in photo, I can only imagine seeing them in person!
I have never heard of well dressing, lovely artisan work.
the church!!! Stunning, and a stone barn, I am so used to wood barns, I never stopped to think about them being stone! Much more hardy than the decaying old wood ones I see lost here each winter....
Happy trails to you!

Anonymous said...

The history behind the well dressings and as always the way you write to describe eveything is always a pleasure to read. My father was from Scotland and as a young girl I recall my Aunts talking about the custom of the well dressings. My older siblings would remember a little better than I.
Hugs Rosemary...xx

Steph said...

Another great historical post .. thank you, I really enjoyed the photos and information about your trip. That church is excitingly early - I, too, love Romanesque arches and doorways, its a simple style but just beautiful.

Rosewalk Cottage said...

Hi Rowan!
Thank you for the informative post. I did like your photo of Coffin Well.

Jacqueline~Cabin and Cottage said...

Well quite a tour! The sense of history is always imptressive to me. All the old names and architecture. It's all quite beautiful. I'm sure the ladies were right about your storytelling!

Jenny Woolf said...

I once did an article on well dressing (not in Tissington) and it was wonderful to attend the making of the scene - so much love and care goes into it. Thank you for showing us the latest Tissington wells - I never tire of looking at these amazing artistic creations.

Heidi's Garden said...

What a wonderful tradition. Have I missed you saying where and why this tradition started?

I thought both photos of the coffin well showed the shape well so enjoyed your and DHs photo. It looks like it was a beautiful day to visit the village.

Hugs from Holland ~

Lucy said...

The wells are cleverly dressed - though not my kind of thing. (!) What I liked best in this post is the trough. The font is not aesthetically pleasing but fascinating. Sounds as if you had a good day.

Gracie said...

I just finish reading the last book by Ken Follett and one of the main character is the Earl Fitzherbert, nice coincidence.

Leanne said...

Ive never been to a well dressing! its still on 'my lis't, has been for years!!..

Leanne x

Comfrey Cottages said...

thank you so much for sharing with us all about well dressing and these photos dear! I just love it!! xx