Buxton’s well dressers put petal to the metal (or clay!) to create stunning designs

Members of the design team Danielle Watson, Pauline Clark, Claire Millard and Jane Brown
Members of the design team Danielle Watson, Pauline Clark, Claire Millard and Jane Brown

Proving that many hands make light work, almost 50 volunteers have helped to dress the boards for this year’s Buxton Well Dressing Festival.

St John’s Church has been a hive of activity this week as young and old came together to decorate the floral boards which are being displayed at the Higher Buxton Well, St Ann’s Well and the Children’s Well.

Looking down on the main panels as the designs emerge

Looking down on the main panels as the designs emerge

For the first time, a board will also be on show in the refurbished Pump Room.

Secretary of the well dressing committee, Christine Gould, said: “It is so nice to see the church full of people and colour.

“There are not many things in life where you can start one day and have a finished project three days later.”

The volunteer petallers have been working on displays to commemorate anniversaries. One will honour the Suffragette movement and 100 years since women won the right to vote, while others mark the 200th anniversary of Emily Brontë, the 125th anniversary since the opening of Buxton Museum and 100 years since the end of the First World War.

Buxton Community School year sevens working on the children's well, Tom Holmes, Declan Lloyd, Emma-Jane Eltringham, Amy Mycock and Abi Mason

Buxton Community School year sevens working on the children's well, Tom Holmes, Declan Lloyd, Emma-Jane Eltringham, Amy Mycock and Abi Mason

All the boards are designed months in advance, and volunteers use petals and various natural materials to decorate the clay boards.

Danielle Watson, who has been involved with well dressing for the past four years, has designed the Higher Buxton Well on the Market Place.

She said: “When you are working on your part of the board you become very absorbed in what you are doing and it is very relaxing.

“I just can’t wait to see what everything looks like when it is all finished and put together.”

Christine Gould

Christine Gould

First-time petaller Elliott Thompson is a Year 12 student at Buxton Community School, which is in charge of decorating the well in Spring Gardens.

He said: “I’ve never done anything like this before, but it feels nice to be part of something which has gone on for years before.”

The history of well dressing in Buxton dates back to 1840 when residents gave thanks to the then Duke of Devonshire for providing running water on the Market Place.

Maureen Kitchen, who has been making displays for 33 years, said: “I enjoy the petalling and every year is a different challenge, as every year we are working on a brand new project and design.”

Maureen Kitchen

Maureen Kitchen

The finished boards go on display around the town in time for Sunday’s well blessing services. The event will get underway at 2pm near the Market Place well, a change of starting point from previous years.

High Peak Deputy Mayor, Coun John Watson, will accompany clergy and ministers, the retiring well dressing festival queen and her retinue, for the start of the civic procession which will visit each well on foot for the blessing service, accompanied by music from Fairfield Band.

Following the blessing of the wells, the crowning of the 2018 festival queen, 12-year-old St Thomas More pupil Phoebe Mitchell, will take place at St John’s Church at 3.15pm by retiring committee president Arthur Packham.

The well dressings will remain on display until after the conclusion of this year’s Buxton Well Dressing Festival on Sunday July 15.