Well dressing, Newborough

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Date:May 1984

Description:Well dressing at Newborough began when village school headmistress Mrs Bernice Brown introduced it in 1978, and has taken place every year since, with the exception of 1986 wen mains sewers were being laid, and 2001 when the event was cancelled due to Foot and Mouth Disease. Three 'wells' are dressed in Newborough each year: the main well, the school children's well and the Youth Club well (pictured here on Elton Lane).

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 designs are made by pressing flowers, leaves, seeds, fir cones and other natural items into clay.

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Image courtesy of: Staffordshire Museum Service

Donor ref:2011.006.0087 (37/24983)

Source: Staffordshire Museum Service

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