The origins of the West Hallam Well Dressings begin in 1970, when the ‘Church Flower Ladies’ planned a Flower Festival. This led to the creation of the Flower Club in 1972.
One of the demonstrators visiting the Flower club in 1974 was an Etwall Well Dresser who gave a talk and slide show on ‘The Art of Well Dressing.’ Thus the ancient Derbyshire Craft was introduced to West Hallam.
In 1978, encouraged by the Reverend Frank Smith, who had recently moved from Wormhill, in the High Peak, to West Hallam and was familiar with the tradition of Well Dressings; and, tutored by the experts from Etwall, the intrepid ladies of the Flower Club set to work. They soaked their frame in a local pond, dug then puddled their own clay and designed the first West Hallam Well. The Well depicted ST. Wilfrid and was placed by the main door of ST. Wilfrid’s Church.
In their second year, the Well Dressers and the Brownies and Youth Club created Wells which were placed in the front garden of The Old Boys’ School in School Square. From this point on, other Village organisations joined in to create their own Wells and in 1979, West Hallam was officially included in the list of villages creating Well Dressings in Derbyshire.
Today, The West Hallam Well Dressing Festival has grown beyond belief; a huge event held on the second Saturday of July each year with as many as twelve Well Dressings, an Arts Market, charity stalls ,numerous entertainers and the associated Scarecrow Trail.
(Many thanks to Brenda Parker for access to her personal records)
Take a look at our slide show showing how a well is made.
|The Making of a Well|