Well Dressing

Brown Edge Well DressingThe practice of well dressing in Brown Edge recorded by the Old Nortonians as ending in 1840’s when the wells on Brown Edge dried up and the Endon well was the only one left running, and the Endon Well either continued to be dressed or was started. Brown Edge well dressing was revived on at least two occasions for a few years the last one being in the 1950’s, and remained undressed until the millennium when I, as Chairman of the Parish Council, approached several people to see if we could revive this custom as part of the millennium celebrations. Several people attended the first meeting held at Glenhough, Sandy Lane including; Mr Alan Sims, Mr Robert Heath, Mrs Gladys Mrs Doreen Scott, Mrs Elizabeth Lawton, Mrs Elaine Willis, Mr Adrian Mason, Mrs Janet Turner and Myself. We were supported in our first endeavours by the Endon well dressers as Mr Barlow came and met the group to describe what needed to be done, we also visited Alstonfield and other well dressings to get some ideas. We decided to dress the two wells which the Parish Council had previously refurbished and ensured that they were furnished with surfaces to which boards could be affixed. These wells were known locally as Sytch Trough and Sandy Lane Spout. The Spout had been used for drawing water by two houses as their only source of water as late as 1969 until water was piped to them. The source of this water is in the wood 100 yards away. It was piped ( we think in1929) using a cast iron pipe in an absolute straight line from a chamber in a wet patch in the wood. It also unhelpfully is quite frequently inundated with run off from the fields above. Mrs Kitty Clewes who has lived at Spout House all her life said that the water used to “go off” after a couple of days from drawing. Sytch Trough gets its water from a fissure in the rock in a newly constructed chamber (constructed by John Holdcroft in 1999) in the field behind the well. When the Parish Council had this water tested in the 60’s by the Public Analyst, I remember him reporting back that as soon as he tested the water he knew where it was from as he had tested it before and its purity was the highest possible. It was decided that we should encourage the School to dress another well and we plumped for Jobs Pool Well. This well has its source in St Anne’s Vale in the field belonging to the Ashes. It must be pure as it has freshwater shrimps swimming in it. The well itself was where local women washed their clothes and had a sump made from wood, part of which is still there although now surrounded by stone. You can see photographs of the Brown Edge Well Dressing in our Archive by following the link. Peter Turner


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