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Folklore: Well Dressing

Raggytash 10 May 16 - 11:28 AM
GUEST,HiLo 10 May 16 - 11:36 AM
Raggytash 10 May 16 - 11:47 AM
Les in Chorlton 10 May 16 - 12:54 PM
Joe Offer 10 May 16 - 01:18 PM
GUEST 10 May 16 - 04:10 PM
Joe Offer 10 May 16 - 04:25 PM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 10 May 16 - 05:32 PM
GUEST,Ray (currently in Utah) 10 May 16 - 07:42 PM
Joe Offer 10 May 16 - 09:31 PM
Les in Chorlton 11 May 16 - 05:34 AM
GUEST,Raggytash 11 May 16 - 05:48 AM
GUEST 11 May 16 - 11:25 AM
Les in Chorlton 11 May 16 - 02:59 PM
Joe Offer 11 May 16 - 04:15 PM
GUEST 11 May 16 - 06:29 PM
GUEST,Ray (still in Utah!) 11 May 16 - 07:08 PM
Les in Chorlton 13 May 16 - 06:22 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 13 May 16 - 07:40 AM
GUEST,In good company 13 May 16 - 08:18 AM
Snuffy 13 May 16 - 08:49 AM
leeneia 13 May 16 - 10:50 AM
Joe Offer 13 May 16 - 02:51 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 13 May 16 - 03:50 PM
Joe Offer 13 May 16 - 04:03 PM
Pete from seven stars link 13 May 16 - 05:36 PM
GUEST,ST 14 May 16 - 05:08 AM
Ian 14 May 16 - 04:29 PM
Les in Chorlton 14 May 16 - 07:15 PM
GUEST,Mischievious 15 May 16 - 12:04 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: Raggytash
Date: 10 May 16 - 11:28 AM

A few weeks ago the subject of well Dressing was brought up. Attached is a article from the BBC News for those who may not have seen it.



Well Dressing


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 10 May 16 - 11:36 AM

I had never heard of this . very interesting, thanks for posting!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: Raggytash
Date: 10 May 16 - 11:47 AM

Some more photographs

Photographs


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 10 May 16 - 12:54 PM

Trust you might find this useful

Beware Pagans bearing dodgy stories


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 May 16 - 01:18 PM

What's the story behind well dressing?
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: GUEST
Date: 10 May 16 - 04:10 PM

Pre Christian European water cult - springs and wells were conduits to the spirit world.
Taken over by the Roman Church - Saints wells etc , with visits on holy days.
The leaving of tokens - scraps of cloth , coins - to grant requests - I have seen these from Scotland to Bulgaria
Tidied up and sanitized by the Victorians in the form of processions and well dressing.
Have I missed any links in the chain?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 May 16 - 04:25 PM

OK, I'm starting to get the idea. I wonder if there are people here who have their own stories to tell about well dressings.

Here's the text of the BBC Article:

    Crowds flock to Tissington Well Dressings
    7 May 2016
    Derby

    An annual well dressing festival with roots believed to date back as far as the 14th Century is taking place in a Derbyshire village.
    Tissington, which has a population of about 110 people, will welcome 35,000 over the course of a week for the Tissington Well Dressings.
    Six wells have been decorated using clay, petals and coffee beans.
    It is believed the tradition began when locals reasoned they escaped the Black Death due to the water supply's purity.

    Sir Richard FitzHerbert, chief executive of Tissington Hall, said: "The wells never dried up in times of plague. It is done to praise the Lord, but it has a secular tone to it."

    The themes of the tributes to the wells vary, with this year's decorations celebrating events such as the Queen's 90th birthday, the 150th year since Beatrix Potter's birth and the ancient game of Shrovetide Football.

    Wells are dressed by applying clay on wooden boards, using materials like coffee beans to make an outline and placing twigs, wool and petals on to the surface for different colour effects.

    Sir Richard said since the event began, the village had welcomed visitors from Spain, France and New Zealand. "It's what we're famous for and long may it continue," he said.

    The event, which began on Thursday, will conclude on Wednesday.

Sounds like it might be an interesting, colorful tradition. How widespread is this practice of well dressing?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 10 May 16 - 05:32 PM

Very widespread, in Derbyshire.
http://welldressing.com/calendar.php

best wishes
Derek


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: GUEST,Ray (currently in Utah)
Date: 10 May 16 - 07:42 PM

Tossington, typical Derbyshire village with empty streets full of parked cars. Once tried to take my late mother there for an afternoon out and came across the well dressings. Couldn't get near the place - expected us to transport a 90 odd year old with dementia across a muddy field! High tailed it out again with some difficulty.

Nice to know the local lord (literally translates as "Herbert's bastard) is happy to publicise his stately "pile".

The god botherers always muscle in on well dressings - my step-daughter organises our local event.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 May 16 - 09:31 PM

I did notice a sappily religious tone in some of the photos, Ray. But hey, they were colorful.
I liked the Beatrix Potter one. And "Eyeor" was cute, even though he was spelled wrong (should be Eeyore)
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 11 May 16 - 05:34 AM

OK Mr / Ms secret Guest - always makes thing more mysterious doesn't it?

"Pre Christian European water cult - springs and wells were conduits to the spirit world."

Any actual evidence for this?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: GUEST,Raggytash
Date: 11 May 16 - 05:48 AM

It's mainly in the county of Derbyshire an area known as the Peak District, which was Britains first National Park.

(In fact the Peak District does stray into Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire and Yorkshire)

I'm believe Well Dressing does take place elsewhere but not to any great extent.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: GUEST
Date: 11 May 16 - 11:25 AM

'Springs and wells were conduits to the spirit world'

See 'Celtic animism' Wikipedia
    The excavation reports for the sacred well and shrine at Carawburgh,Hadrian's Wall


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 11 May 16 - 02:59 PM

Sorry, not sure this is evidence

"'Springs and wells were conduits to the spirit world'"

What exactly does it mean?

So, how "Celtic" was Derbyshire either pre-Christian or around 1400 when Well dressing first appears in the historical record?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 May 16 - 04:15 PM

I don't think I'd argue with the Guest's statement, Les - although he/she puts a bit of "spin" it. If you Google springs wells sacred, you'll find that springs and wells were considered to be sacred by many ancient cultures. Even today, we have the mythology of "well witching" that actually seems to work to find water sources with a forked branch.

Seems to me that there's a whole lot of superstition behind the tradition of well dressing. People who take it seriously, might call it "Celtic spirituality" or something like that - but it also seems to be a fun tradition to carry on. So, what the hell?

And hey, they have rams in Derbyshire, so why not Celts? This Website seems to think they were there:

It was the biggest ram, sir, that ever was fed on hay.
That's a lie! That's a lie! That's a lie, a lie, a lie!

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: GUEST
Date: 11 May 16 - 06:29 PM

Those links from pre-Christian water cults to the present , merely show the continuity and development of these religious and folk traditions.
Most were suppressed by the Puritans in Western Europe.
Well dressing is very limited geographically - but has similarities to the placing of garlands at, or in wells (which still happens) and may refer back to the annual procession of icons , statues etc to wells and springs on Saint's Day.
Also the effect of the cloth tokens at healing wells is similar.
Yes - one can only speculate how 'traditions' arise - but in the 14 century in Derbyshire they were not spontaneous.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: GUEST,Ray (still in Utah!)
Date: 11 May 16 - 07:08 PM

We've just discovered a Book of Mormon in today's motel room!

Joe; the actual subjects of well dressings are chosen by the individuals creating them and, therefore, aren't necessarily on a religious theme. The local God botherers do, however, tend to muscle in and insist on blessing the wells every year - it often reminds me of the mindless vandalism they have carried out to many Breton menhirs.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 13 May 16 - 06:22 AM

Look, when it comes to "religious" beliefs people seem to belief what ever they like with out recourse to evidence.

One point:

"Even today, we have the mythology of "well witching" that actually seems to work to find water sources with a forked branch."

No it doesn't work - it's as simple as that.

People also pull in Celts fairly randomly - the historical world is not at all sure who they were or what what they specifically did so the idea of 'Celtic' influence in Derbyshire is on very shaky ground.

If the fall back is well - all things are possible then fine believe what ever you like - but don't expect to be taken seriously.

The website you give a link to Joe is interesting but I wonder how historically sound it is:

"The Celts were tribal warriors who loved to fight with death holding no fears. Lugh was a Sun God and a warrior King. The tradition of warrior kings is passed down through legend. One Sir Gawain slew the Green Knight in Lud's Church, just west of Gradbach,"

Aren't Sir Gawain and hos Green Knight fictional?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 13 May 16 - 07:40 AM

you'll find that springs and wells were considered to be sacred by many ancient cultures

The Holy Wells in (rural) Ireland have been co-opted by the Catholic church and are in use as Holy places providing cures for a variety of ailments up to the present day.

Often trees are associated with the wells and are used in the rituals associated (see rag-trees). Often there's a bit of a strange mix with a feeling of old paganism and overly RC imagery. While some wells around here have fallen in disuse, some others are very actively used, with annual masses for the saint associated.


Whether they work or not, people go there an find comfort and perhaps help for whatever bothers them. Backache, eye cures, toothache are regular ailments wells are supposed to provide cures for but I have seen wells for depression, diabetes and all sorts of things.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: GUEST,In good company
Date: 13 May 16 - 08:18 AM

I'm not at all sure about the Celtic connections either. Why just Derbyshire, which has more to do with the Saxon "Pecsaetan" – the dwellers of the pecs or hills (See History of the Peak District) than Celts. If it is Celtic, why would it survive here and not in the more obviously Celtic areas? I think those pesky Victorians had an awful lot to do with romanticising Celtic mythology as well as folk song and dance.

Just my 2p.

Interesting subject anyway.

Dave.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: Snuffy
Date: 13 May 16 - 08:49 AM

Back in the 1950's I seem to recall that there were only a handful of well-dressings, but the number has been growing exponentially of late - here are some of them.

Soon every village in Derbyshire (and surrounding counties) will have one!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: leeneia
Date: 13 May 16 - 10:50 AM

Mostly it's an excuse for having fun, and there's nothing wrong with that.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 May 16 - 02:51 PM

Oh, Les, I don't believe the Website I linked to at all. It's rife with spelling, grammatical, and historical errors.

Peter Laban says the "Holy Wells in (rural) Ireland have been co-opted by the Catholic church." I know that Catholic-bashing is the fashion in Europe nowadays, but such statements do make me wonder. What were the Catholics supposed to do with the wells once they became the majority religion? If a people embraces a new religion, are they required to abandon all ancient customs and family traditions and leave them unscathed for someone more worthy to assume them?

I don't believe in all this cultural and ethnic purity that some people seem to be demanding nowadays. People should be able to celebrate their customs as they damn well please.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 13 May 16 - 03:50 PM

The Catholic church incorporated a number of existing rituals, beliefs and all that and used them for their own purposes. That was pretty much a statement of well established fact. If you think that constitutes catholic bashing, perhaps you have become a bit over sensitive.

I made my post in response to your:

you'll find that springs and wells were considered to be sacred by many ancient cultures.


with no other intention than to indicate one doesn't have to look at ancient cultures, that veneration of wells, rooted in the past, is still alive today.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 May 16 - 04:03 PM

Peter, "co-opted" is a judgmental word that implies that there was something wrong with the action. "Incorporated" has basically the same meeting, without the judgmental baggage. I would suggest that "incorporated" is the better word to use.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: Pete from seven stars link
Date: 13 May 16 - 05:36 PM

Looking at the wiki article I see it is done now in kemsing , Kent , not far from us and I never knew it. I first heard of well dressings from the then secretary of the open air mission who attends the same church as we do. They used the occasion to present the gospel message in a chapel utilising pictures of the dressings with bible themes ...god botherers, as someone above says! Apparently they were quite popular and appreciated.            Slight thread drift but scarecrow festivals are getting quite popular too.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: GUEST,ST
Date: 14 May 16 - 05:08 AM

The Epistola ad Mellitum does suggest that the incorporation of pagan British sacred sites, rituals and customs into Christian practices was a well thought out, wholly intentional policy (from Pope Gregory I's administration at least).   It is interesting though that where the Catholic Church incorporates pre-Christian customs it is criticised but when, earlier, the Romans had merged their own gods with native British ones (e.g. Sulis Minerva?) they were seen as being open minded!

As to well dressing being "Celtic" and yet surviving only in the Peak District which may have been noticeably short on "Celts" for much of its history (depending on what a "Celt" was) – previous contributors have pointed out that well dressing may have just been a local variant of the various customs associated with folklore surrounding wells and springs. Since the term "Celt" is a catch-all term with little definition it's largely irrelevant to the discussion. Celt is now used by most people to refer to any pre-Christian inhabitant of Britain and the "Atlantic Fringe". Defining "Celt" is a bit like trying to define "folk" (quickly ducks out of sight!)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: Ian
Date: 14 May 16 - 04:29 PM

Les, Well wishing (devining) does work and for not only water.
It can be used for finding steel/cast iron pipes. I have seen it done to find a "lost" gas pipe in a field.

Here in Brittany we have Pardons, where there is a morning service 10 or 11am approx at the Fountain (spring) which is dedicated to a saint. There is a fire lit then a parade to the church. At 12noon there is a meal cooked over open fires and served usually in marques in a local field where between 100 and 500 people are catered for. There is often live music throughout the meal and afterwards traditional Breton dancing.
In our village St Eloy is the patron of Blacksmiths. Up until the 1980s farmers would bring there work horses to the Pardon to be blessed.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 14 May 16 - 07:15 PM

Interstin Ian:

"Les, Well wishing (devining) does work and for not only water.
It can be used for finding steel/cast iron pipes. I have seen it done to find a "lost" gas pipe in a field."

Any evidence?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Well Dressing
From: GUEST,Mischievious
Date: 15 May 16 - 12:04 AM

Any evidence?
Almost never.

http://www.jstor.org/stable/1498035?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents 


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