Thanks to National Lottery players, Holmfirth will see a return to Well Dressing traditions in the town for the first time since 1991. The floral design will appear in the Methodist Church gardens as part of this year’s Holmfirth Arts Festival celebrations from 14th to 16th June.
Members of Holme Valley Sharing Memories, a creative group for older people, are working with children from Holmfirth Junior, Infant and Nursery School to design a Well Dressing on the Festival theme of landscape. And they are keen to talk to any local people who have memories or photographs of the 1991 event or memories of well dressing generally. The project is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and One Community Foundation.
Well Dressing is an ancient form of decoration, usually placed near natural sources of water. Also known as well flowering, it is a tradition practised in some parts of rural England in which wells, springs and other water sources are decorated with designs created from flower petals. The custom is most closely associated with the Peak District of Derbyshire and Staffordshire.
In 1991 there was a flower festival in Holmfirth, with community groups creating a series of Well Dressings around the town. The event was formally opened by Daphne Ledward from the Radio 4 programme Gardeners Question Time.
Linda Rigby, a former Holmfirth resident, remembers walking round the town with her mother Ethel Booth who was born in 1922.
“It was a glorious weekend and Holmfirth was packed. My mother absolutely loved it because she had worked at Washpit Mill and knew everybody!”
Sharing Memories Project Manager, Sally Brown, said:
“We’ve been having great fun teaching the school children how to make mini Well Dressings and they are so excited to be part of this project.
“Most of the puils have never seen anything like this so we hope it will inspire future flower decorations in the town.”
The Sharing Memories Well Dressing will be unveiled at 1.45pm on Friday 14th June and the children will process down from their school in flower costumes made with the help of The Children’s Art School, and led by fiddle player Eddie Armitage.
The unveiling will include entertainment by Andy Burton of Satellite Arts and members of Xylosound, a group of adults with learning disabilities.
In addition there are plans to create a series of community well dressings in Honley in early July to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Trinity Church. These will be on display around the village on 6th and 7th July.
To share your Well Dressing memories please email Colette Cummings, Holme Valley Sharing Memories, at. firstname.lastname@example.org