Well dressing, Ilam

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Date:1937

Description:An early colour photograph of the well dressing at Ilam, decorated with flowers and the inscription " Lift up your heads, o ye gates".

Well dressing is believed to have ancient origins, a ritual to give thanks for the supply of fresh water. The earliest record is in 1349, at Tissington in Derbyshire. The tradition has revived in popularity in recent years.

The ceremony of well dressing is peculiar to Derbyshire and neighbouring areas, such as the Staffordshire Moorlands. It takes place in many different villages between April and September, but many, including Newborough near Burton-upon-Trent, take place on or around May Day. Other Staffordshire villages with well dressing celebrations include Endon, Mayfield and Longnor. The tradition at Ilam seems to have died out before the Second World War.

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Creators: North Staffordshire Field Club - Creator

Image courtesy of: Mr R Knight

Donor ref:P2002.003.0600 (37/11767)

Source: Staffordshire Museum Service

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