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Saturday, 2 May 2009

Upwey Well Dressing 3rd May 2008

Tommorrow 3rd May 2008 at 12.30pm Upwey near Weymouth will be holding there annual Well Dressing at Upwey Wishing Well. This is the 23rd Well dressing and is expected to last throughout May.

This years theme is a nostalgic reminder of childhood days along the river based on a poem by the 18th Century poet. James Hogg called "A Boy's Song".

Where the pools are bright and deep,
Where the grey trout lies asleep,
Up the river and over the lea,
That's the way for Billy and me.

Where the blackbird sings the latest,
Where the hawthorn blooms the sweetest,
Where the nestlings chirp and flee,
That's the way for Billy and me.

Where the mowers mow the cleanest,
Where the hay lies thick and greenest,
There to track the homeward bee,
That's the way for Billy and me.

Where the hazel bank is steepest,
Where the shadow falls the deepest,
Where the clustering nuts fall free,
That's the way for Billy and me.

Why the boys should drive away
Little sweet maidens from the play,
Or love to banter and fight so well,
That's the thing I never could tell.

But this I know, I love to play
Through the meadow, among the hay;
Up the water and over the lea,
That's the way for Billy and me.Well dressing was introduced to Upwey in 1986. Some Derbyshire Ladies who moved to the area started the tradition of dressing the well, as per Derbyshire custom. Thus The wishing well is now dressed each year at around May Day. The Upwey Well Dressing is very much a community effort, which raises good money for local charities. This year 2008, they are raising funds to improve wheelchair access for the disabled to the Old School Village Hall.

The origins of the tradition are alternatively said to lie in pagan tradition or in giving thanks for the purity of the water drawn from certain wells during the period of the Black Death. It is often said to have originated in Tissington, Derbyshire, though other claims can be made for Eyam and Stoney Middleton. Whatever its origins it was historically a custom exclusive in England to the Peak District of Derbyshire.

Below: Last years Well Dressing theme 'Ancient Landscapes' incorporating Stonehenge and Maiden Castle.



The information accompanying the Upwey Well Dressing reads:
"Well Dressing

Springs and wells all over the world have been revered since ancient times. In Britain the most famous examples of this tradition are Well Dressings in the Peak District villages of Derbyshire, where, during the time of the plague, communities with fresh water supply were able to protect themselves by sealing their village off from sealing their village from the outside world. Weymouth is were the Black Death entered the country in 1347. Since then wells and springs were dressed annually in thankfulness and celebration.

Here at Upwey Wishing Well is the main source of the River Wey - the largest natural spring in the south - and local people with Derbyshire connections introduced Well Dressing to the local community in 1986. Ever since the Wishing Well has been dressed annually at the May Day weekend.

Planning and designing takes several months but work starts in earnest during the week leading up to the May Day Bank Holiday.

First, a wooden framework is made and soaked for a week or so in the water gardens. Then, in the week before installation, a layer of clay is laid out on the framework of boards and the design marked out. Over the following three days the picture is built up with leaves, seeds, and other natural materials. Finally, on the day before installation, thousands of flower petals are added to give brilliant colour. Local gardeners are very generous and no wild flowers are used. The work is very intensive and painstaking and has to be completed within this short period. Although it is at its best in the early days, the Well Dressing last for three to four weeks."
Brief History of the Wishing Well

The Wishing Well at Upwey is a natural spring and source of the River Wey. The tradition as a wishing well is said to have begun as a visitor attraction in the early 20th century.

Visitors would often participate in the ritual by taking a few sips of well water from a glass. And throwing the rest of the water backwards over their left shoulder while wishing.

The Wishing Well waters are thought to also have healing properties especially in the healing of sore eyes. (see article 'Bincombe's Link to Ancient Spring 10th March 2004')

George III often visited the village of Upwey during his stay at Weymouth. He was particularly attracted by the spring that it is said that this caused a seat to be set nearby for his use. It is also said that the gold cup that the king drank the spring water from later became the Ascot Gold Cup.

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