Well Dressing is an ancient Derbyshire tradition, many sources suggest that it developed from a pagan custom making sacrifices to the gods of wells and springs for a continued supply of good, fresh water. It has been adopted in many villages nowadays as a Christian tradition.
The Church of the Immaculate Conception, Long Lane, New York, Charlesworth, Derbyshire is on the banks of the river Etherow – the border of the Nottingham/Shrewsbury dioceses.
Ten years ago, our parish priest, Canon Don Bowdren suggested that we “did something with the well” – it is actually a natural spring diverted into a stone grotto built about a hundred years ago. The parishioners, friends and school children have completed the 10th Well Dressings this year (2015). This year the images of Venerable Sister Nano Nagle, her lantern, St. Patrick and a snake were chosen.
Sister Nano Nagle
This image was chosen to represent “The year of the Religious” (brother & sisters). Nano was Irish born and educated in Paris. Nano founded the Order of the Presentation Sisters.
The original image we have chosen is that of a kinetic stained glass window by artist Desmond M. Kyne (now of the parish of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Stroud). The icon portrays the heart of Christ on Nano’s breast, a Celtic cross within the heart, and swirls to signify energy. The heart is bordered by the blue and white petals signifying rivers in Ireland and Paris. Flames representing the Holy Spirit burn up from the bottom of the image. Top right is the huge protective right hand of Jesus showing the wound from the nails on the cross and on each side of the image are “wings” of the Holy Spirit. Above Nano’s head are more swirls – more energy.
The symbol of the Presentation sisters is Nano’s lantern – depicted in the small well dressing by the children of St. Margaret’s & All Saints School, Gamesley
The subject of St. Patrick has been chosen “out of season”, to welcome our new Bishop of Nottingham – Patrick Joseph McKinney who was ordained on 3rd July at Nottingham Cathedral. The snake – banished from Ireland by St. Patrick is depicted in a small well dressing by the children of St. Margaret’s & All Saints School, Gamesley
This year’s main image was our most challenging yet – It is made of entirely natural materials – petals, leaves, wool, eggshells and more – it is beautiful and will only last a week! The dressings have taken 58 different pairs of hands 314 hours and 25 minutes to prepare.