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Celebrating the Ancient Art of Well Dressing in Derbyshire’s Peak District

May 18, 2023
May 18, 2023 - Celebrating the Ancient Art of Well Dressing in Derbyshire’s Peak District

Welcome to Hoe Grange Holidays, where we celebrate the rich heritage and quirky ancient traditions of the stunning Derbyshire Peak District.

Have you heard of the ancient art of well dressing?

Join us as we delve into the fascinating world of well dressing - an ancient art form that gives thanks for the gift of fresh, clean water. Discover the origins of Tissington Well Dressings, find out about the traditional techniques passed down through generations, and experience the vibrant atmosphere of one of our favourite local events. #lovelocal

Tissington Well Dressing - Hands Well

Tissington Well Dressings: Centuries of Gratitude

Tissington Well Dressings have been celebrated for centuries, dating back to a time lost in the annals of history. While the exact origins remain mysterious, two theories have gained prominence among the locals.

Some believe that the tradition emerged in Tissington village shortly after the devastating Black Death of 1348. The villagers, fortunate to be spared from the plague, attributed their immunity to the purity of the water.

Hall Well at Tissington Village

Another theory suggests that Tissington Well Dressings originated in 1615, following severe droughts that ravaged the region. Amidst the desolation, Tissington stood as an oasis where water flowed freely from its five wells, preserving cattle and crops. Regardless of its precise inception, one thing is certain—the ancient art of well dressing has endured for hundreds of years, with each generation passing down the traditional techniques.

Coffin Well at Tissington villagegirl at Coffin Well

The Intricate Process of Decorating the Wells

Several weeks before Ascension Day, the process of well dressing begins. Wooden frames are constructed and submerged in the village pond to soak. The makers then 'puddle' or work fresh clay so it is soft enough to pack into the frame, smoothing it out until it looks freshly plastered.

Sketched designs are then traced onto the clay, creating an outline that is further embellished with natural materials. Vibrant flower petals, mosses, wool, twigs, beans, seeds, and stones bring the designs to life, adding texture and depth.

creating a well dressing

Although the tradition originated as a pagan ritual, it was later adopted by the Church. Many of the well dressings now incorporate biblical themes, while others pay tribute to national events and more modern themes. This year, a couple of the wells at Tissington Hall celebrate Walt Disney, demonstrating the evolving nature of this cherished tradition.

Community Unity and Blessing the Wells

Well dressing serves not only as a thanksgiving but also as a unifying force, bringing the entire village community together. There is a friendly rivalry as to who creates the best decorated well!

Villagers creating well dressings at Tissington

Tissington villagers are passionate about the well dressings and everyone pitches in to help. Each resident contributes in their own way, whether by digging clay, picking flowers, decorating the boards, or putting up the well dressings throughout the village. Participants of all ages, including children who create smaller designs to raise money, become part of this annual event.

Tissington Well Dressings - Children's Well

The celebrations commence on Ascension Day with a Church service at St. Mary’s Church, followed by a procession that blesses each well in the village. The Well Dressings remain on display for a week, and are a stunning spectacle for all to see. Follow Tissington Well Dressings on Instagram for more insights into the ancient art of well dressing.

Even the cows want to get in on the act!

Experience Tissington Village and Beyond

While immersing yourself in the wonders of Tissington Well Dressings, take the opportunity to explore the charming Tissington Village with it's beautiful stone cottages and local businesses. Visit Tissington Nursery, located in the estate's walled kitchen gardens, and bring home a beautiful plant for your garden. Discover unique Dovedale ceramics and exquisite hurricane candles at On A Wick and A Prayer candle workshop.

Visit water colour artist Roger Allen's pop up art gallery. Roger lives at Hoe Grange so quite a few of his paintings are of our farm! Get creative at Tissington Craft Corner, or indulge in a delicious cream tea at Herbert's Tea Rooms.

If you're not local to Derbyshire you probably haven't heard of well dressings, but quirky events such as well dressing is what makes the Peak District a #uniquedistrict!

Tissington Well Dressings are on from today Thursday 18th May to Wednesday 24th May, and are 'well' worth a visit!

What's your favourite well design? This year I loved the Walt Disney theme at Yew Tree Well.

Join us for this unique celebration and explore the local attractions in Tissington Village. Book your stay at Hoe Grange Holidays today!


PS if you miss the well dressings at Tissington there are well dressings at other Peak District towns and villages throughout the summer, including, Wirksworth, Middleton-by-Youlgrave, Ashford in the Water, Bakewell, Buxton, Stoney Middleton and Monyash.

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Hoe Grange Holidays Tripadvisor Comments...

  • star rating  We've just returned from our second visit to Hoe Grange. The suggested riding routes with stunning scenery were enjoyed by my daughter and I while the menfolk were delighted with... read more

    July 11, 2019

    star rating  Recently spent a week in "Pinder" and had a lovely time. The location is stunning - the site is nestled in a beautiful valley on the edge of the Peaks... read more

    July 16, 2019

    star rating  Second visit to the accessible holiday cabins at Hoe Grange. David and Felicity were as helpful and friendly as ever. We had a welcome pack of freshly baked bread, butter,... read more

    Charlotte M
    August 7, 2019
  • star rating  We stayed in Pinder cabin and had a lovely stay, the cabin was spacious and comfortable, nice and warm after cold days out. The children loved meeting the animals and... read more

    November 5, 2019

    star rating  We stayed in Skylark, one of the two glamping pods available at Hoe Grange in February 2020.

    Felicity & David welcomed us when we arrived to show us around... read more

    February 6, 2020

    star rating  We stayed for a night in one of the cabins . The cabin was spotless and very well equipped , lots of extra touches were added like fresh eggs and... read more

    February 3, 2020
  • star rating  We spent four nights at Hoe Grange and had a lovely time. The location is fantastic and right next to the High Peak Trail. The cabin was very clean and... read more

    July 16, 2019

    star rating  Another great holiday at Hoe Grange - such a great place for us all to holiday as a family - this time with a baby, a 3 yr old, a... read more

    October 4, 2019

    star rating  We wanted a complete break and some peace and quiet and this was perfect. The caravan was secluded with beautiful views over the countryside. Everything was spotlessly clean and well... read more

    joanne B
    June 4, 2019
  • star rating  What a lovely weekend away! We stayed in the lovely gypsy caravan, which was a wonderful and really unique experience. We took along our two horses, who also had a... read more

    June 18, 2019

    star rating  What can I say?
    Absolutely superb!
    We have just returned from a family weekend staying in Daisybank cabin and the Skylark pod.
    It was our first trip away with my... read more

    June 13, 2019

    star rating  Myself and my sister travelled to Costa Rica and Panama via Viva Holidays Ltd. The holiday was exceptional and one to be treasured forever. Andrew at Viva Holidays... read more

    Paula C
    July 4, 2019
  • star rating  We have just returned from a short stay in one of the pods on site at Hoe Grange Holidays. We couldn’t recommend them enough. The pod has everything you could... read more

    August 17, 2019

    star rating  Felicity and David made us feel very welcome right from our booking. The pods are well equipped and spotlessly clean. The area is very peaceful with great views and we... read more

    January 30, 2020

    star rating  We stayed in Rainster cabin for a long weekend 6 th to 9 th September. This was my 5 th visit to the amazing Hoe Grange. I had visited before... read more

    Jan Horsman J
    September 17, 2019
  • star rating  We love this place. Very wheelchair friendly, really well equipped and comfortable, with easy access by car to lots of places of interest particularly Crich Tramway Village, Chatsworth, Bakewell and... read more

    David H
    October 25, 2019

    star rating  lovely surroundings real farm country with chickens paying you a visit nice decking area to chill at the end of the day accommodation very good plenty to do nearby... read more

    vincent s
    July 28, 2019

    star rating  It's been three years since we last visited but once we arrived it certainly didn't feel like it!
    We stayed in Hipley again which had had a refurbished wet... read more

    September 21, 2019
  • star rating  A beautiful place to stay! Amazingly run family business! Everyone were very welcoming, friendly and cozy! The skylark pod we stayed in was very clean, cozy and well equipped! The... read more

    January 2, 2020

    star rating  What a wonderful find. As our first experience of needing accessible accommodation we could not have wished for better. Beautiful well equipped lodges in lovely surroundings. We stayed in both... read more

    April 3, 2020

    star rating  Stayed last week, from 6th to 13th September in the log cabin called Hipley. This was amazing, it was our first visit but certainly not our last. Gold standard disability... read more

    September 14, 2019
  • star rating  Loved every minute of our stay, and so did the family and friends that came to stay. Excellent facilities in our cosy Hipley log cabin. By far the best... read more

    October 25, 2019

    star rating  We had a lovely time staying in one of the incredibly well equipped pods. I bought my pony along and we had some great rides on the high peak trail.... read more

    June 7, 2019

    star rating  For the second year running, we have had a great family holiday at Hoe Grange. We had one cabin for the week, for two sisters and our elderly wheelchair-using... read more

    June 25, 2019
  • star rating  On arriving at Hoe Grange in a downpour, we doubted if we’d made the right decision to go glamping, but after the warm welcome from David and a quick tour,... read more

    June 25, 2019

    star rating  Lovely place to holiday near to interesting locations and easy access to the High Peak trail and Carsington Water. Part of a working farm with fresh produce to enjoy during... read more

    Angie B
    August 3, 2019

    star rating  We love this place. Very wheelchair friendly, really well equipped and comfortable, with easy access by car to lots of places of interest particularly Crich Tramway Village, Chatsworth, Bakewell and... read more

    October 25, 2019
  • star rating  Arrived and was shown to our pod, fantastic location and the pod was very good indeed plus we had home made bread and milk and tea and coffee. A... read more

    July 28, 2019

    star rating  We stayed in the Skylark pod last October (2018) and had a lovely time. There was homemade, rustic goods (bread, biscuits etc) when we arrived. Felicity and David who run... read more

    September 15, 2019

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