Glossop Heritage Trust

The Whitfield Well Dressings.


Dressing of the wells is an old Derbyshire tradition which still happens in some villages. Our first set of 6 photos are thought to be from the early years of the 20th century.

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In 1927 the dressing of Whitfield Wells was part of a celebration, centred around Glossop Old Wakes on 17 September, which included the Opening of Manor Park and the Rose Queen Pageant at Old Glossop.
The official programme for the event said "Wells have been dressed from time immemorial by people of the neighbourhood, to whom the waters have been vitally necessary; the ceremony may be considered in the nature of a thanksgiving for the continuance of the supply, in the same manner that thanks are rendered for a bountiful harvest. The Whitfield Wells are unique amongst all the wells of the country for the enormous regular flow of water, and for the fact that to-day—when public water supplies have rendered useless the vast majority of the wells of the countryside—the water of Whitfield Wells still serves a large number of houses in the Whitfield Parish.".
The Decorations were on view from Saturday, September 17th to Monday, September 19th and bands played for Dancing on Saturday and Monday, from 7 to 9 p.m. The Band also played on Sunday from 8 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.
Attractions at the Whitfield Wells included Climbing the Greasy Pole (commence 5 p.m., September 17th), Coconut Shies, and other Carnival Novelties.
The Ceremony of Blessing the Wells took take place at an open air service at the wells on Sunday, September 18th, 1927, commencing at 3 p.m. and conducted by the Rev. H. V. Nicoll Griffith and Rev. J. H. Robinson.

A year later a similar celebration was held, with the well dressing timed to coincide with Glossop's Great Hospital Carnival, which was held to raise funds for Wood's Hospital and Partington Convalescent Home.
The programme notes ran to a similar theme "Water is a vital and clamant necessity of life, and Wells have been dressed from time immemorial. The ceremony may be considered in the nature of a thanksgiving for the continuance of the supply, in the same manner that thanks are rendered for a bountiful harvest. The Whitfield Wells are unique amongst the wells of the country for the enormous regular flow of water, and for the fact that to-day—when public water supplies have rendered useless the vast majority of the wells of the countryside—the water of Whitfield Wells still serves a large number of houses in the Whitfield Parish.". Once again the Decorations were on view throughout the weekend with Glossop Old Band playing and the wells being blessed as the previous year.
Three Prizes (presented by Mr. W. Carnall, Grocer; Mr. J. Sidebottom, Grocer and Mr. D. Price, Confectioner) were given for the Best Decorated Houses in the area between the bottom of Gladstone Street, Freetown and Whitfield Cross. In addition "A fine Pig" had been kindly presented by Mr. W. Taylor, Butcher, to be won in Competition.


The first photo of this set is of the Rush Bearing Arch in 1927. The others are from 1928, the first one showing the Mayor, Alderman Richard Sellers, wih the Morris Dancing Team.

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Page last updated: 9 July 2017.