Buxton petal power is bloomin’ marvellous, says stalwart volunteer

Christine, front, with the other petallers working hard behind her.
Christine, front, with the other petallers working hard behind her.

For 30 years Christine Gould has been helping turn thousands of petals into beautiful artworks for Buxton’s annual well dressing festival.

The 57-year-old has been a volunteer dresser since 1986 after seeing an advert in the Advertiser, and is proud to be involved with keeping the tradition alive.

Christine has been a volunteer for 30 years.

Christine has been a volunteer for 30 years.

She said: “There are not many things in life where you can start a project and three days later you have finished.

“It’s crazy to think I have been involved with this for so many years, the time really is flying by, but it is something I really enjoy doing.”

When she started 29 years ago Christine did not know anything about well dressing.

She said: “Other committee members and I used to travel across the county, looking at how other people did it and trying to pick up as many tips and tricks as we could.

“I was bitten by the bug and got more and more involved over the years.”

Well dressing is an ancient custom unique to the Peak District and Derbyshire, and is thought to date back to Roman and Celtic times, when communities would dress wells to give thanks for fresh water supplies.

Every year the living art installations are made from flower petals and other natural materials, and the designs feature everything from biblical stories to special anniversaries.

Over the years Christine has seen the well dressing festival undergo many changes.

She said: “Before I started volunteers used to meet in the council sheds on the old cattle market and it was funded by the council too. Now we are all self-funded and work out of St John’s Church.

“I think the tradition is expanding to other areas and towns which never really embraced well dressing before, and it’s great to see so many people wanting to carry the tradition on.”

Every year the volunteers use £600 worth of flowers to create the boards for Buxton’s three wells on the Market Place, in Spring Gardens and opposite the Crescent.

Christine, who works in export sales for Tarmac at Tunstead Quarry, is also a member of Buxton Civic Association and is a singer in Buxton Studio Choir.

Hard work, but very rewarding

Earlier this month, Buxton’s well dressers were one of five groups competing at the first RHS Chatsworth Show.

The Buxton entry lost out to a team from Bakewell, but Christine said: “To even be selected to be at the first show was a great achievement.

“It was a lot of work and being so close to our festival was very tiring, but everyone worked so hard and did a wonderful job.”
Christine, of Kelsons Avenue in Buxton, said there was a great sense of friendship among the well dressers.

She said: “I have people I only see once a year, but it is always so nice to catch up with them. “Dressing the wells brings people together and it is so nice to see everyone admiring the creations afterwards.”
Dressing of the wells started yesterday (Thursday) at St John’s Church and continues today, Friday, (9am-6pm) and Saturday (9am-4pm). The full design and production process usually takes around six months.