Well, what a weekend in Ripley and Swanwick

There is only one way to mark the first stirring of spring in Derbyshire - the dressing of the wells of course.

Townsfolk and villagers in Ripley and Swanwick were treated to two celebrations over the weekend as part of the traditional ritual, which dates back to pagan times.

Swanwick well dressing. Natalie Haywood and Altair Wall looking at the well dressings.

Swanwick well dressing. Natalie Haywood and Altair Wall looking at the well dressings.

On Saturday more than 200 folk saw six wells unveiled at Swanwick as part of a fun-packed day of activities.

The decorated designs made by various village organisations were blessed by baptist minister Ros Wilkes, of Swanwick Baptist Church, and included scenes from Alice in Wonderland and The Chronicles of Narnia.

Village Scouts held a sponsored walk around Swanwick, and there were performances from Pinxton Puppets and the Pantonics Steel Band.

Swanwick Parish Council clerk Sally Leighton said: “It was a very enjoyable day and lots of funds were raised for local organisations such as Swanwick Pre School, the Brownies, Somercotes Guides, Midland Railway and more.”

The origins of decorating wells in ornate flower designs is believed to have originated in Tissington in 1349 and was a way of blessing a village’s water supply in order to keep it clear from disease. The practice spread across Derbyshire in the 19th Century and is continued today.

At Ripley more than 300 people enjoyed a day of events at Market Place on Sunday - featuring free children’s rides, a host of stalls, a performance by Ripley Green Garters and a live broadcast from Amber Sound FM.

Outgoing mayor of the town council Cllr Steve Daley certainly enjoyed his last civic function, unveiling the well before it was given a blessing by envoy for Ripley Salvation Army Kevin Wibberley.

Cllr Daley said: “It was beautiful weather and a great well dressing.

“I’m hoping that the event will actually grow in the future and that more charities will take up the offer of a free stall on the market place.”

The Ripley well was based on the town’s heritage and featured a Lancaster Bomber at the top, honouring Ripley inventor Sir Barnes Wallis and the bouncing bomb, a keystone from a roof support at London St Pancras station, built by the Butterley Company and an image of Ripley Colliery among other things. It was designed and made by members of Rethink, a mental health charity based at the Croft, off Slack Lane, in the town.