Buxton Well Dressing


The first well dressing in Buxton in 1840 and should more accurately, be termed a pump dressing. It was organised as a token of thanks to the sixth Duke of Devonshire from the townspeople of Buxton, because he had arranged for the supply of water to be piped from the cold Springs on the outskirts of Buxton, to the town's marketplace, a well which is still decorated on this site today.

The other well decorated in Buxton is St Ann's in the Crescent and it's not certain when this one was first decorated but there is an illustration from 1864, which shows the Pump room decorated and festooned with greenery garlands. The customer continued throughout the Victorian era, with varying models of interest until 1912 when it ceased.

It was started again in 1925, at the instigation of the town council, which saw the well dressing become a valuable asset to any town, which attracted tourists, from all over the country. Each year, the council appointed a team of well dressers, from one of the surrounding villages to dress St Ann's well and the Higher Buxton Well.

After the Second World War, a well dressing committee was formed and in 1947, they organised the festival, which once again included a fair, a carnival procession and Wells dressing Festival Queen but on a much bigger scale than had ever been seen before in Buxton with the dressed Wells as its focal point.

A team of local people were formed to dress the Wells and they soon developed a beautiful, unique style of their own, but unfortunately in 1986, the local council had to withdraw all financial support for the well dressing and this coincided with the long serving team of dressers disbanding.

In 1986 a new team came together to learn and enjoy the art and craft of well dressing and to complete the boards, a team of around 50 people were involved in repairing the boards, puddling the clay, drawing the designs, dressing and then erecting the boards around the town. All the volunteers put in around 500 hours to fully complete the process of well dressing.

The town of Buxton is famous for the constantly flowing natural thermal water which emerges from nine springs in the Crescent area. The water is one of the purist in the world and the water that we drink today fell as rain 5000 years ago, filtering through the limestone of the Peak District until it meets an imperious layer where it remains from some 20 years to re emerge where the impervious layer outcrops. It runs through subterranean depths and the water is warmed to 82°F by passing through heat giving minerals and flows at some 150 gallons per minute. The thermal waters of Buxton are the only true thermal waters in Derbyshire and the quality and purity, apart from being slightly radio active, has 40 minor constitutes and is a faint blue colour.

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