Travelling Back Home.~ Well Dressings~

Well Dressings 2016

Please click the photo’s to enlarge.

I travelled back to the place I grew up last weekend. It brought back so many memories for me. Of a time when I was a young girl with no idea of where life would take me.

Each Sunday I would walk the 15 minutes  distance of the village from our home to walk up to the Chapel where we would go to Sunday School in the Methodist Chapel.  Often we would walk it twice a day on Sunday as we went to afternoon service and evenings on a special occasion, such as Easter or Harvest Festivals..

I  being the eldest of 5 siblings  would  lead my bother and 3 sisters by the hand as we would  Sing in the choir, often being the only choir some weeks. I often think we were made to go, just so as my Mother and Father could get some peace for a couple of hours.

Old Methodist Church Stoney Middleton Now a private Dwelling

Old Methodist Church Stoney Middleton Now a private Dwelling

 

On my revisit last weekend I walked that same distance, today however the chapel is no long a place of worship  but converted into a private dwelling.

At one time I would have been able to name every one who lived in our village by name.  Now apart from a few relations and old family’s  still there  most are  now strangers,  

 

Below is where I did the Maypole dance when I was a child with the village junior school. Weaving in and out holding coloured ribbons we would dance in front of the Parish Church St Martin’s. Bunting was spread out between the houses as it is now. We would practice long hours at  Stoney Middleton Primary  School so as we would not get our ribbons all twisted wrongly as we made our webs and patterns  with the ribbons around the Maypole as the boys and girls skipped around.. 

The Nook was where I would do the Maypole as a child

The Nook was where I would do the Maypole as a child

 Back then the older children of the village were allowed to help make the boarders of the main Well Dressing, while the adults created the main body of the wells. I am unsure as to how the village now organises its creation.

So what is a Well Dressing?  

Stoney Middleton Well Dressing 2016

Stoney Middleton Well Dressing 2016

A Well Dressing is an old custom that the Village of Stoney Middleton has now been taking part in for the last 80 years. It is the Thanksgiving for the Spring water supply that dates back to ancient times of 1600 BC when the Peak District was occupied by a tribe of people called the Brigantia’s  who took their name from Brigantia ( the Holy One ) a Goddess who was a protector that formed a bridge between the Spiritual and Material Worlds.  Below her lay many lesser’] ‘Deities’ who were believed to be embedded in stone and Trees. The most special of these were the Rowan and the Oak trees. But also Water that sprung from the wells from out of the Limestone and grit-stone was revered

Many of these Springs were warm.. And the one in Stoney Middleton  pictured here with this beautiful  Woodpecker which my nephew  designed Here  is a Thermal Spring. ..

Welldressings over Natural Spring This spring feeds the old Roman Bath House the temp' of the water is a constant 63 degrees,

Well-Dressings over Natural Spring. This Thermal Spring feeds the old Roman Bath House the temp’ of the water is a constant 63 degrees.

 These springs were thought to come from the fiery underworld. The Spring Here is a constant temperature of     63 Degs even in winter. And today as back in my  younger days, many of the villages would take there cars to the trough that overspills onto the road leading to the cemetry and wash their cars in warm water.

So back in those ancient times effigies were placed along with offerings near these caves and springs as the water was felt to have healing properties .  Which led to the wells being dressed on May the 1st as an offering to the spring festival of Beltane  as springs of flowers and branches would be left to honour Spring. The custom progressed within the  Christian Churches  which is carried on today called Well Dressing Week.

Children's Welldressing made by the village school chidren. This years theme is Noah's Ark

Children’s Well-Dressing made by the village school children. This years theme is Noah’s Ark

Many of the villages grow flowers in their gardens and allotments specifically to collect the petals and leaves.. The frame is made and filled with clay mixture.. When I was a child the adults would soak the clay in the local brook. And Everyone would have to work quickly, often we as children would carefully peel the petals so they were separated and we were allowed to do certain parts.. While the main picture was done by the adults who knew what they were doing. All of this is done voluntary.

 

Events are scheduled throughout the village week.. With Tug of War,  Brass Bands, Maypole Dancing, Treasure Hunts, Cake stalls and competitions, while others have made cards, sell plants, and seeds and all proceeds are shared out among village projects  and charities.

Below you can see the separate Petals used, and the seeds, pebbles, bark, leaves and stems used to create the Picture forming the Well Dressings.

Bluetit created from petals and feathers , Bark is also used.

Blue-tit created from petals and feathers , Bark is also used to create the tree branch.

Here is the restored Roman Bath House..

 More can be found here about the Roman Baths and Stoney Middleton HERE

We walked around some of the village reminiscing as we went . Here I used to walk to the shop which was at the time of my childhood one of two in the village. We also had a Post office and 3 Pubs back then.. Sadly this is the state of the front of the Old shop now..  There are no shops or Post Office in the village now.. The nearest shop and post office is in the next village or local Town..  And there is only now One Pub left in the village which is the Moon Inn.. which is steeped in its own History and Dark Past which can be found HERE.  A sad state of the times as people bought the house attached to the back but as yet have let the front shop fall into decay. 

Old shop and One time Post office

Old shop and One time Post office

Before we left we went to say goodbye to some old family and friends who are  no longer with us but who are close to us in spirit, And I said good bye as I reflected how quickly these last 41 years have sped by since I left the village for good when I got married in 1975..

Reflections

Reflections of a time so loved..

If you want to find out more and see more of past well dressings you can see the progress of how one is made then click the link  Here

All Above photo’s were taken by myself

Source’s:

http://stoneymiddletonwelldressing.org/Gallery/building_a_well/

http://www.derbyshire-peakdistrict.co.uk/stoneymiddleton.htm

 

Another Year~ Childhood Memories

May is upon us already.. and with it another year for me draws to its maypole_thumbcompletion.. As I mark another year to my calendar today. The Month of May begins for me with a Celebration of memories.. May is the time when blossoms bloom, and bluebells flower.

I look back within my mind at my childhood, my youth and now my autumn years.. As I see the many changes which unfolds within a life time..I reflect today the many colours which have contributed to my life.. And like the Maypole ribbons each one woven in their own unique colours as they streak through my mind.. Some clear, while others have blown away in the passing of time.

May brings back memories of many birthdays and as I sit and pen this post of memories, I see myself aged 7 dancing the May-Pole in my Village of Stoney Middleton with one of the rare new dresses I would have to wear.. As my Aunt would buy us all a new Easter outfits just once a year. ( as my parents were not so well off ), which often would be miles too big.But I remember well this day in May as I danced with glee, for my dress in poker-dots of blue velvet on white net, like a ballerinas gown was my pride and joy.. I was a princess that day ~I remember lining up in the church vestry waiting to skip out onto the Nook in a line on cue to music, as we took our positions and picked up our ribbons from the boys who stood in the middle keeping the pole sturdy. ~ It mattered not that day that my dance partner a boy, who when we danced over and under went the wrong way and we all got entangled as we skipped our way around the central circle Pole. And our teacher came to our aid as we untangled ourselves..

We would as children gather our mothers bluebells from the valley and later it would be Lilies of the Valley.I can still smell their perfume as I see the images within my minds eye as we would tie them into the small circles of Posies .

My brother would get into trouble for climbing trees, to look into birds nests. But then we all climbed and swung on trees making rope ladders and swings and dens in the wood. We skipped over the meadows picking the many large Moon Penny Daisies and Buttercups and jumped the local brook. I remember being chased off private land near our local small private Middleton Hall by their Gardener..The same Hall that held garden parties for the village on Wakes week, when the Wells were Dressed with the Wells Dressings , with WI stalls of home made cakes and jams. The Tombola stall, and the Lucky Dip..And roll a penny.. Tug of War completions in fancy dress.. Morris Dancing’s, And how All the villages pulled together..

And we would help the local Farmer at harvest time with haymaking, taking two or three of us at a time to drag the square bales of hay into piles for the tractor to collect..

Dad would catch wild rabbits and we would get Rabbit stew on the menu quite regular.. Meat was expensive but we had Pheasants and partridges too, Living near to Chatsworth House my Dad knew someone who when they had their game shoots, the birds which were too badly shot damaged would go cheap.. I remember well sat around the table and Dad saying ‘chew well’, as we all spat out the led shot pellets as they clanked on our plates..

I often find some of those early memories are clearer in my mind than that which I did yesterday…..

May is a special month of the Year.. And just wanted to share a few childhood Memories .. As I Look back today.

Me-Age-5_thumb19

Sue Dreamwalker

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Sue Dreamwalker

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Each of us, carries within us the capacity to change the world in small ways for better or worse. Everything we do and think affects the people in our lives, and their reactions in turn affect others As the effect of a seemingly insignificant word passes from person to person, its impact grows and can become a source of great joy, inspiration, anxiety, or pain. Your thoughts and actions are like stones dropped into still waters, causing ripples to spread and expand as they move outward.. I hope that I can send a few ripples out via the web of life, as we each of us weave the threads together... Welcome to my Sanctuary of Peace and Love... May we each spread our Lights around our World....Sue Dreamwalker

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