Category Archives: Well Dressings

70th Anniversary of National Parks

It’s not often you get something for nothing, but thanks to the determination of group of countryside revolutionaries, exploring and enjoying our National Parks is indeed free! It’s 70 years since the 1949 Act of Parliament that established the family of National Parks in England and Wales.

The right to roam

Hard to believe today, but the rebellious ramblers of the 1932 Kinder Mass Trespass in the Peak District were imprisoned for protesting on the moors for the right to roam and have open access. However, their concerted efforts were eventually rewarded and led to legislation establishing the UK National Parks. It means that today our most beautiful countryside in England, Wales and Scotland has the strongest levels of protection.

Peak District landscape

Celebrating the 70th anniversary of National Parks

This year we celebrate 70 years since the 1949 Act of Parliament was passed which established the 15 National Parks that we know and love today. Ethel and Gerald Haythornthwaite were environmental campaigners and pioneers of the countryside movement and were instrumental in establishing the Peak District as Britain’s first National Park in 1951.

Friends of the Peak District logoAs campaigners they fought to protect the countryside, but realised the importance of the landscape as a living, working environment.

They also founded the charity Friends of The Peak District which we support and which continues to protect the precious countryside around us.

The Peak District National Park

The Peak District, founded in 1951, is the oldest National Park. with it’s breath-taking gritstone edges and moorland of the Dark Peak, contrasting with the steep limestone dales of the White Peak. It is also famed for its caverns and the precious and unique Blue John stone.

Growing up at Hoe Grange Farm David didn’t really comprehend the beauty of our special environment. It is only since diversifying into self-catering holidays that we truly appreciate where we live and work!

When guests arrive and get out of their car they often gasp at the stunning views and gamboling lambs! #uniquedistrict

Discover National Parks

Saturday 6th April 2019 is the start of Discover National Parks Fortnight. There are celebrations across the UK with events and experiences to inspire people of all ages and interests to venture outdoors, explore and learn more about these special places.  #DiscoverNationalParks

What is it like to work as a Ranger in the Peak District? As part of the English National Park Experience Collection you can get hands on and find out!

There are 15 National Parks in the UK, all of which are unique – some have high mountains, some have rolling valleys, others meandering wetlands and dramatic coastline. They are home to our most precious wildlife, protect our beloved countryside landscapes and are a source of boundless pleasure for the millions who visit each year.

Millstone Edge

The wide-open spaces enable you to explore, experience the elements, learn, relax, and escape the pressures of the modern world. You can enjoy some quality family time, discover ancient traditions, or go on a more challenging, rugged adventure. There is something to appeal to all age groups and abilities.

10 Facts about the Peak District National Park
  1. The name ‘Peak’ does not relate to mountains (we only have large hills!) but is thought to be derived from the Pecsaetan, an Anglo-Saxon tribe who settled the area.
  2. The Peak District National Park covers an area of 555 sq miles, but is by no means the largest National Park – the Cairngorms in Scotland is the biggest. It reaches into five counties: Derbyshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Greater Manchester.
  3. Ramble along 1,600 miles of public rights of way, footpaths, bridleways and tracks, 64 miles of which are accessible to disabled people.
  4. Take a walk on the wild side! Around 520 sq km (202 sq miles) is open access land – open to walkers without having to stick to paths (more details: www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/visiting/crow).
  5. Cycle, walk or ride along 34 miles of disused railways, including The High Peak Trail next to Hoe Grange, Tissington Trail and Monsal Trail.
  6. Nearly 90 per cent of the National Park is farmland with around 1,800 farms. Incredibly there are 5,440 miles (8756 km) of dry stone walls!
  7. Not short of water there are 55 reservoirs supplying 450million litres of water a day.
  8. More than a third of the national park (35%) is designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) where important plants, wildlife and geological formations should be conserved.
  9. There are more than 450 scheduled historic monuments, including Nine Ladies Stone Circle (Bronze Age) on Stanton Moor, and Neolithic henge at Arbor Low.
  10. There are quite a few quirky and distinctive customs, but one of the most well know is well dressing. Originally a pagan ceremony to honour water gods, it is now a favourite tradition in many villages, including Tissington just a few miles from Hoe Grange. The wells are dressed  with flowers, petals, seeds, twigs, nuts and berries, pressed into soft clay held in wooden frames and often depict Biblical themes.

The Peak District and all the National Parks are a real treasure. They protect and steward our most valuable natural assets, whilst at the same time providing access to open country for all. Feel free to enjoy to your heart’s content whilst you stay at Hoe Grange!

Felicity 

Tissington Well Dressings 2018

One of my favourite #LoveLocal Peak District events near Hoe Grange is Tissington Well Dressings. The dressing or decorating of water wells as a thanksgiving is an unusual Derbyshire tradition. The Well Dressings at Tissington are spectacular.

hall well smallThe gift of life through water is so often taken for granted, so it’s an amazing testament to the villagers that this ancient art is still thriving today.

When did Tissington Well Dressings begin?

No one really knows! The ancient art of well dressing goes so far back that it’s origins are a bit of a mystery. One plausible theory is that the tradition began in Tissington village just after the Black Death of 1348. The villagers were lucky to be spared the ravages of the plague, and their immunity was attributed to the purity of the water.ducklingsOthers believe the custom started later in 1615, after severe droughts throughout the area led to loss of cattle and crops, except at Tissington where water flowed freely from the 5 wells in the village.

What we do know is that this curious custom has been carried on for hundreds of years and the traditional techniques are passed on from one generation to the next.

Coffin well Tissington

How are the well dressings created?

Well dressing is a lengthy process, starting several weeks before Ascension Day when the backing boards are soaked in the village pond. The boards are then covered with a clay/salt mix and the design is traced onto them.

Designs are often have a biblical theme or pick up on national anniversaries. This year designs include 100 years of Votes for Women and the formation of the RAF. You can find last years well dressing designs on another blog.

Hands Well Tissington

Well Dressing Peter RabbitThen comes the intricate process of creating the outlines with cones from the Alder trees and coffee beans, before pressing individual flower petals to complete the picture.

The delicate petals have to be carefully layered like roof tiles so that any rain flows off.

Yew Tree Well TissingtonOther natural materials are used to add texture and contrast, such as twigs, wool, feathers, and small stones. Usually everything is natural, but this years design of Yew Tree Well makes reference to the world wide concern about plastic waste.

Dressing the wells can’t be done too far ahead as the flowers need to stay fresh for the full week. Town Well TissingtonIt’s wonderful how the whole village comes together to keep this special tradition very much alive. Everyone takes part in this annual celebration; young and old working together, digging clay, picking flowers, decorating the boards, or erecting the dressings at the various wells throughout the village.

Childrens Well

Blessing the wells

The Tissington Well Dressings celebrations begin on Ascension Day (celebrated on the 40th day of Easter, which is always a Thursday) with a procession blessing each well and a Church service at St.Mary`s.

Things to do

There is plenty of activity in the village throughout the week, you can pop into Edward and Vintage Sweet Shop for some flavoursome fudge, pick up a plant from Tissington Nursery, which is housed in the estate’s walled kitchen gardens, treat yourself to a beautiful hurricane candle, or some unique Dovedale ceramics from On A Wick and A Prayer candle workshop, stop off for an ice cream at Herbert’s Tea Rooms, or a delicious cream tea with scones to die for at Bassettwood Farm. 

If you’re not from around Derbyshire you have probably never heard of well dressings, but quirky events such as well dressing is what makes the Peak District a #uniquedistrict. The well dressings are on from today Thursday 10th May to Wednesday 16th May, so why not pop along this weekend to see for yourself?

We hope you like our photos, however seeing the wells in real life is so much better, but don’t get stuck in the stocks like I did!

Felicity 

stocks

Share our #UniqueDistrict – photo competition

Have you visited the Peak District?

Have you stayed at Hoe Grange Holidays or visited the Peak District? If so, what’s your all time favourite place or activity?

By simply sharing your #UniqueDistrict experience of our stunning region on social media you could win some fabulous prizes, one of which is a short break in our gorgeous glamping pods!

It’s quick and easy to get involved. During September and October share inspirational photos of your experiences and what you think makes the Peak District unique using #UniqueDistrict on Twitter and tag @vpdd or Instagram and tag @visitpeakdistrict.

What inspires you?

It could be anything from stunning scenery, wicked wildlife, getting active outdoors rock climbing, walking, caving, canoeing or rock climbing, a selfie at one of the amazing attractions, meandering through the market towns and villages, finding #LoveLocal products at the artisan markets, or perhaps relaxing with friends over the best brewed pint of local beer.Artisan marketYou can post as many photos as you like. Anything which best depicts your unique experience here in the Peak District, that will hopefully inspire someone else to visit the area!DogWalk Millstone EdgeThe Peak District was designated the first National Park back in 1951. If you have visited our stunning region you will know it consists of two distinct areas; The southern White Peak with its steep limestone valleys including Lathkill Dale and Dovedale, with its famous stepping stones, and The northern Dark Peak with its dramatic gritstone ridges and heather covered moorlands including Kinder Scout.Hands Well featuring Beatrix Potter animalsDid you know that Castleton is the only place in the world where the semi-precious stone Blue John can be found? That definitely counts as #UniqueDistrict, as does the ancient art of Well Dressing, where plants and petals are pressed onto clay boards to create amazing pictures in celebration of pure water from the wells!

Chatsworth House is another #UniqueDistrict jewel of the Derbyshire Peak District, home of the Dukes of Devonshire, with amazing gardens designed by Capability Brown and set in over 35,000 acres of stunning parkland.Chatsworth Cascade #UniqueDistrict Hardwick Hall, now run by the National Trust, was built by the formidable Elizabeth Countess of Shrewsbury or “Bess of Hardwick”. This lavish house, often said to be more glass than wall, was a reflection of the wealth that Bess accumulated by marring four times, so that she became the wealthiness woman in the country!

Other famous people with links to Derbyshire include Izaak Walton, author of ‘The Compleat Angler’, who fished along the Rover Dove. The book was first published in 1653 and is one of the most reprinted books in the history of English literature.

Visit Peak District and Derbyshire are running the #UniqueDistrict competition until 1st November, so get snapping and sharing using #UniqueDistrict. Anything memorable, exciting or unusual counts.dog-friendly glampingDon’t forget to tag @vpdd on Twitter or @visitpeakdistrict on Instagram to be in with a chance to win a short break in our gorgeous glamping pods!#UniqueDistrict competitionGood luck!

Felicity

 

Tissington Well Dressings 2017

For Tissington Ascension Tide is an extremely hectic period when the whole village work tirelessly together to create the stunning, and colourful well dressings.

Hands Well TissingtonThe dressing or decorating of water wells as a thanksgiving is an ancient art that goes way back into the mists of time, so far back that no one is entirely sure of the origin.

One plausible theory is that the custom began in Tissington village just after the Black Death of 1348. The villagers were spared the ravages of the plague, and their immunity was attributed to the purity of the water.

Moor hen and chickAnother theory believes the tradition started later in 1615, after severe droughts throughout the area led to loss of cattle and crops, except at Tissington where water flowed freely from the 5 wells in the village. No one knows for sure but this ancient art is carried on with the traditional methods passed on from one generation to the next.

How are the well dressings created?

Each of the wells is decorated with a surrounding picture made from a board covered with a clay/salt mix. Several weeks prior to the well dressings you may see the boards floating in the village pond to soak them through. The boards are then plastered and the design is traced onto them.

Yew Tree Well Tissington

Cones and coffee beans are used as outlines and the filling in of the picture is done with brightly coloured flower petals, twigs, wool, feathers, stones and natural materials. This is done during the previous three days to Ascension Day.

Community spirit

Well dressing in Tissington is not just a thanksgiving but a fabulous event which brings the whole village community together. Everyone, young and old, contributes in some way to this annual celebration, digging clay, picking flowers, decorating the boards or erecting the dressings at the wells throughout the village.

Hall Well Tissington

The celebrations start on Ascension Day (celebrated on the 40th day of Easter which is always a Thursday) with a procession blessing each well and a Church service at St.Mary`s. The Well Dressings are displayed for a week and they are definitely not to be missed.

Coffin well TissingtonWho do you think modelled for this well dressing??

If you’re visiting the Derbyshire Peak District this week come and wander round the village and see the beautiful well dressings for yourself. A quirky but fascinating tradition that is “well” worth a visit!

Felicity Tissington Church

Tissington Well Dressings 2016

One of my favourite events of the year is Tissington Well Dressings. The amazingly detailed designs are created by pressing brightly coloured petals, leaves, twigs, and natural materials into wet clay mounted on wooden boards. There are six water wells  around the village each with their own spectacular display, often with biblical themes.

Tissington Hall Well
Tissington Hall Well – Let there be light

The origins of this ancient custom are lost in the mists of time, but what is certain is that it is a thanksgiving for a supply of clean water and that it is most prevalent here in the Peak District.

Yew Tree Well
Yew Tree Well dressing celebrating Dovedale and our special Peak District countryside

One theory says that the customs began just after the Black Death of 1348-9. The local population was ravaged by The Plague, but all in Tissington escaped and the immunity was put down to the purity of the water supply. The Well Dressings have become an annual thanksgiving and at Tissington they are put up on the eve of Accession Day ready for the blessing ceremony.

Coffin Well featuring Shrovetide Football
Coffin Well dressing featuring another quirky local tradition, Shrovetide Football

Today it’s not just a thanksgiving but a marvelous way of bringing the whole village community together as everyone contributes in some way to this annual event, digging clay, picking flowers, decorating the boards or erecting the dressings at the wells throughout the village.

Children's Well dressing
Children’s Well
Town Well dressing
Town Well

If you missed Tissington there are many more dates for Derbyshire Well Dressings throughout the summer.

Felicity

 

Hands Well dressing featuring Beatrix Potter animals
Hands Well dressing featuring Beatrix Potter animals

Tissington Well Dressings 2015

Can you believe another year has flown by?

Once again we are giving thanks for the pure, clear water, the essence of life, at Tissington Well Dressings.

Hall Well at Tissington 2015
Hall Well created by Sir Richard Fitz Herbert and family

The dressing or decorating of water wells as a thanksgiving is an ancient art peculiar to the Peak District, which goes so far back in time that no one can be exactly sure of the origins. One of the most spectacular well dressings in Derbyshire is in the village of Tissington, just 3 miles down the road from Hoe Grange.

Each well iDerbyshire well dressingss decorated with an intricate and colourful display of flowers and natural materials. Wooden frames are constructed and soaked in the village pond, then covered with clay, mixed with water and salt. A design is sketched on paper, and then traced onto the clay.
The picture is then filled in with natural materials, predominantly colourful flower petals and mosses, but also wool, twigs, beans, seeds, stones and small cones. This is done during the previous three days to Ascension Day.

Although originally a pagan tradition it later was adopted by the Church and many of the wells are decorated with a biblical theme.

Hands Well at Tissington 2015
Hands Well

It’s not just a thanksgiving but a marvellous way of bringing the whole village community together as everyone contributes in some way to this annual event, digging clay, picking flowers, decorating the boards or erecting the dressings at the wells throughout the village.

The celebrations start on Ascension Day (celebrated on the 40th day of Easter which is always a Thursday) with a procession blessing each well and a Church service at St. Mary’s. The Well Dressings are displayed for a week and they are “well” worth a visit!

CoffinWell2015
Coffin Well

 

If you missed the well dressings at Tissington hopefully you have enjoyed our photos and here is a guide to the other well dressings in the Peak District area; including Ashford in the Water this week, Youlgrave on 20th June and Bakewell on 27th June.

Felicity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children's Well Tissington 2015
Children’s’ Well

 

Town Well Tissington
Town Well

 

Yew Tree Well Tissington 2015
Yew Tree Well

 

 

Tissington Well Dressings 2014

It’s amazing how quickly the seasons change and another year flies by, but the ancient tradition of well dressing is ever constant. The Peak District hosts many well dressings, but Tissington village produces some of the most spectacular, with a total of 6 wells.

Tissington Well Dressings
Hall Well commemorating the First World War

It is unclear as to the exact origin of well dressings – some believe they were originally pagan celebrations, others consider they only go back as far as the Black Death in the 1348. Many communities were devastated by the dreadful plague, but Tissington was spared and locals believed their escape was due to the purity of the water. Did thanksgiving begin then or perhaps later in 1615 when the country experienced a severe drought? At this time Tissington continued to have a supply of water from its five wells and a thanksgiving service was held.

What is clear is that the tradition of well dressing is an ancient art going back hundreds of years and is still going strong today. The themes are often biblical, but this year several commemorate the First World War.

The Lion and The Lamb - look carefully the lion even has whiskers!
The Lion and The Lamb – look carefully the lion even has whiskers!

Each well is decorated with a surrounding picture made from a board covered with a clay/salt mix. The boards are first soaked in the village pond after which they are plastered and then the picture is traced onto them.

Cones and coffee beans are used as outlines and the filling in of the picture is done with brightly coloured flower petals, twigs, wool and stones. This is done during the previous three days to Ascension Day.

It’s not just a thanksgiving but a marvellous way of bringing the whole village community together as everyone contributes in some way to this annual event, digging clay, picking flowers, decorating the boards or erecting the dressings at the wells throughout the village.

The celebrations start on Ascension Day (celebrated on the 40th day of Easter which is always a Thursday) with a procession blessing each well and a Church service at St.Mary`s. The Well Dressings are displayed for a week and they are definitely not to be missed.

It’s interesting to see the slide show of behind the scenes and how the wells are created and dressed.

Felicity

Hand's Well at Tissington Village 2014
Hand’s Well – a biblical theme of The Lion and The Lamb

Tissington Well dressings 2014
6th well introduced in 1982 decorated by local children

Town Well at Tissington well dressings
Town Well with a stunning black and white theme

Tissington Well Dressings - Yew Tree Well
Yew Tree Well celebrating the community

Coffin Well at Tissington
Coffin Well commemorating World War 1

the art of well dressing
Dove of peace in a hydrangea sky

Tissington Well Dressings

Decorated well at Tissington hall

The dressing or decorating of water wells as a thanksgiving is an ancient art peculiar to the Peak District, which goes so far back in time that no one can be exactly sure of the origins. One of the most spectacular well dressings in Derbyshire is in the village of Tissington, just 3 miles down the road from Hoe Grange.

One theory is that the custom began in Tissington village just after the Black Death of 1348. The villagers were spared the ravages of the plague, and their immunity was attributed to the purity of the water.

Others believe the custom started later in 1615, after severe droughts throughout the area lead to loss of cattle and crops, except at Tissington where water flowed freely from the 5 wells in the village.

So water shortages are not such a modern phenomenon after all, and we should all celebrate the gift of life through water, which we so often take for granted!

The wells are decorated by pressing brightly coloured flower petals and natural materials into a bed of wet clay, mixed with salt, on a backing board. These boards are erected around the wells in the village to give spectacular displays, usually based on a biblical theme.

Pressing pettles into the clay to create a picture

If you missed Tissington, Youlgrave have a well dressings week starting June 22nd and we just happen to have a cancellation here at Hoe Grange Holidays for a few days from June 24th – come and stay with us and see this ancient tradition for yourself.

Felicity

Peter Rabbit is the theme of this well

Well, well, well…..

The seasons come round so fast, it is hard to believe that it’s already Ascension Day and time for the spectacular well dressings at Tissington. Dressing or decorating wells with colourful flowers to give thanks for our water is an ancient tradition that is peculiar to the Peak District, which goes so far back in time that no one can be sure of it’s origins.

One theory is that the custom began in Tissington village just after the Black Death of 1348. The villagers were spared the ravages of the plague, and their immunity was attributed to the purity of the water.

Another theory believes the custom started later in 1615, after severe droughts throughout the area lead to loss of cattle and crops, except at Tissington where water flowed freely from the 5 wells in the village.

So maybe water shortages are not such a modern phenomenon, and we should all celebrate the gift of life through water, which we so often take for granted!

Come and find the Gruffalo
Come and find the Gruffalo

The wells are decorated by pressing brightly coloured flower petals and natural materials into a bed of wet clay, mixed with salt, on a backing board. These boards are erected around the wells in the village to give spectacular displays, usually on a biblical theme.

The celebrations start with a church service and a procession through the village to bless each well, and continue for the next week.

The designs are amazingly intricate and detailed. This year my favourite  is the contemporary Gruffalo well.  If you’re in Derbyshire this week come and see for yourself. A quirky but fascinating tradition that is “well” worth a visit!

Felicity

Well, it must be time to get dressed

Wirksworth well dressings
Wirksworth well dressings

Following on from last weeks Wirksworth well dressings, today sees the start of the premiere well dressing event of the year in Tissington, the event will run from Thursday 2nd June – Wednesday 8th June. All proceeds go to charity.

Parking: Cars £2 Coaches £10.  Coaches do not need to be booked in advance.

The Old Coach House is open every day during Well Dressings for morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea.

The Hall will be open during Well-Dressings on Thurs 2nd, Fri 3rd, Sat 4th & Sun 5th June for visitors and for groups on Monday 6th, Tuesday 7th and Wednesday 8th June 2011.

And as the forecast is for some fantastic sunshine, what better region to come and visit the peak district in all of it’s colourful glory

David