Monday 17 May 2010

A Well Dressed Couple?

Last Thursday was Ascension Day, which meant the start of well-Dressing Week in Tissington, Derbyshire. Three different people told me over the weekend that they had been and it was superb - so this morning as the sun was shining, we had an early breakfast then climbed on the bike and set off.

A lovely ride, up through the villages, avoiding the M1. i began to get a little edgy somewhere near Ashbourne, with loads of signs saying "Think Bike" and "To Die For" and  "Five bikers have been killed or injured near this spot" and then"Eighteen bikers have been killed near this spot". Then it started raining! Bob was riding extremely carefully around 10am we got to Tissington. Large signs informed us we needed to use the carpark on the edge of the village [cars £1, coaches £2]

Nervous readers omit these next two paragraph.

"Can I pay when we have parked?" I asked. "Oh yes, pay John" Then Bob said "Is there hard standing where we can park safely?" "Oh yes, near John at the bottom of the field, he is waving his flag. Go between the tapes" [we saw chap with huge flag of St George signalling to us] Bob rode gingerly across the large sloping grass field. I felt like Steve McQueen at the end of Great Escape. I don't do off road biking!

Confident that the guy with St George flag was probably English and not a Nazi, we rode towards him. The grass at the bottom of the field was very wet, and when Bob braked [despite incredible care and attention] the bike went over. In this situation, I usually just hang on and wait to hit the ground! Bob was OK, the bike lost a chunk of the mirror housing, and I bashed my elbow hard. But nothing serious. Flag Man kept saying "Just lay there Madam, do not try and stand up. Stay there please!" He and Bob lifted up the bike and moved it onto the path. I started to move. "Just lay there Madam, do not try and stand up. Stay there please!" he repeated. [but the grass is cold and wet, and I want to stand up!] "Bob!" I called. "No, wait till Bob gets here and we will lift you up together" said Flag Man. [Is there something they aren't telling me? has my leg dropped off? is there blood running down my face?] Bob came over and yanked me unceremoniously to my feet [relief! I must be OK then!] The [horrified] Flag Man muttered into his walkie-talkie, and then suggested we could park carefully within the village. so we did.

We parked mear the Village Hall and after a reviving cup of tea and the biggest Danish Pastry I have ever eaten we wandered round looking at the wells. They are amazingly detailed - this tradition has been going in this village since the drought of 1615 [when thousands of cattle perished in the country - but the wells of Tissington never dried up] Since then, the villagers have had an annual Thanksgiving Service and decorated their wells.

The frames are made of wood and soaked in the village pond. They are laid flat, and then coated with damp clay [dug locally] the pattern is traced out, and then the outlines marked out with alder cones or coffee beans. Then the designs are filled in, with leaves, seeds, lentils and overlapping petals [again from local flowers] Then the frames are raised upright and placed round the wells in the village.

Most of the wells have a biblical theme


It is the centenary of this lady's death this year


The village schoolchildren did this one





You can see the coffee beans edging Noah's robe.

The colours were amazing.


















This is called the Coffin well because of the shape of the well below it.







One young lady made her own petalled plaque to display against the garden gate

DSCF0077 DSCF0074



How's this for a butcher's van!







Creative use for worn out boots



The Joiner's House












And the House Next Door!



Tissington Hall, home of the FitzHerbert family for over 500 years. The Estate owns the village and has a policy of offering property at reasonable rents to local people in order to maintain a sense of community. There was definitely a sense of local pride, and commitment to this Annual Event.

We stopped to sit down in the Methodist Chapel where the Open Air Mission were showing a DVD about "The Making and The Message Of Well- Dressing"

chapel  It was really professionally produced, and I purchased a copy as I think it will be useful in the Autumn to show to our Ladies Fellowship.

I was very amused by the Car Parking Sign for the Disabled Car Park. Some how the spelling error made it seem very Jane -Austenesque!



We were back on the road soon after 11.30 and rode into Ashbourne for a snack lunch at Spencers The Bakers.

spencers bakers

Two bikers sitting outside recommended the Biker's Breakfast, so Bob chose that. It was...substantial.

We came home via the Denby Visitor Centre [website here] as I have always wanted to go there. We just looked round the shops, didn't do the Pottery Tour this time.

denby shop

denby centre

There were lots of bargains to be had - but I resisted them.

The last bargain we bought was a yellow trug, and look where that got me!

Home by 3pm for a cup of tea.

The well dressing in Tissington lasts till Wednesday 19th - but throughout the county there are events till September [calendar here]

This year, Christian Aid week has been focusing on clean water for Africa and we thought about that in church yesterday. It is too easy for us to take for granted the fact that in this country we have had inexpensive healthy water supplies for hundreds of years. Today was a good reminder of that.

Just noticed my elbow is going purple. I shall go and rub some of ElizabethD's Arnigel on it.


  1. Sounds like a fun outing. Hope your bruises mend quickly.

  2. 're lucky it isnt broken!
    I'm sure the parking man had visions of ambulances arriving with howling klaxons to take you away, Madam.
    The wells are so lovely.

  3. my heart was in my mouth reading that. I am so glad that you are OK Angela. Hope you are feeling OK. The wells look great

  4. The wells are amazing--thanks for sharing your pictures. I hope you are on the mend and feeling much better after your spill!


  5. Glad you managed to get to the wells despite you mishap! Hope the elbow heals soon.
    The pics of the wells are fabulous - one day I will remember to go and see it all for myself.

  6. The wells were beautiful. Hope your arm gets better soon.
    Thank you for sharing,


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