Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Eyam well-dressing, 2023

Posted on by royvickery |

Eyam, ‘the Plague Village’, in Derbyshire, held its annual well-dressing between 26 August and 3 September 2023, the wells being blessed on the afternoon of Saturday 26, the day before Plague Sunday, which commemorates the 1665-6 outbreak of the Black Death which killed approximately a third of the village’s population.

Three wells were dressed:

The Children’s Well (top image) which had as its theme ’70 years of Peter Pan’/Disney 100 years of dreams’.

The Townend Well (middle image), dressed by the Eyam Sports Association, which carried the text ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, be transformed by the renewing of your mind’ (Romans 12: 2).

And the Townhead Well (large image), also dressed by the Eyam Sports Association, which celebrated the 75th anniversary of both Windrush and the National Health Service.

The blessing procession started from St Lawrence’s church and moved to the Townhead Well, where a short service was held, before returning to the other end of the village to bless the other two wells (image below).

The dressings, revived in 1951, are said to commemorate the plague, when the villagers, led by their rector, William Mompesson, chose to isolate themselves to prevent other local villages from being infected.  Mompesson’s wife, Catherine, was one of the plague’s victim, dying on 25 August 1666.  In view of this, it was perhaps surprising that her grave in the churchyard remained undecorated – devoid of flowers – on 26 August 2023.

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