All’s well that starts well!

A HISTORIC custom, revived in Saddleworth last year, will help celebrate the centenary of women’s rights to vote when it returns in September.


Dorothy Charlton organiser of Well Dressing class from Gee Cross and District WI’s

A group of volunteers are already hard at work to ensure the next well dressing ceremony outside Saddleworth Museum in Uppermill will be bigger and more eye catching than 2017.

To recognise the introduction of the Representation of the People Act in 1918, the theme of this year’s will be the suffragette movement.

A well dressing workshop to pass on traditional design skills was recently held at the Museum on High Street.

It was also attended by members from Gee Cross and Hyde Women’s Institute in Tameside who revived the custom in their area 20 years ago.

Learning Officer Lindsey Milnes was also in attendance to help guide the volunteers through the workshop.


Well dressing volunteers

“Some of these ladies visited our actual well dressing in Gee Cross,” explained WI member, Dorothy Charlton.
“They were impressed with what they saw so they decided they would like to have a go themselves.

“The one produced last year was very good but wasn’t the traditional way of doing it with petals and flowers.

“So, now thy are learning the right way,” smiled Dorothy.

“Hopefully, they are going to spread the word and do it in the different villages throughout Saddleworth.”

Last year’s Saddleworth well dressing was organised by Christine Barrow in commemoration of the Museum’s first birthday since re-opening.

The museum has an ornamental stone well in front of the building which has been used for other purposes in the past.


Saddleworth Well Dressing

Workshop participants watched a presentation on the history of well dressing and how the tradition was revived in Derbyshire.

Lindsey and museum curator, Peter Fox, researched the location of local wells and springs in the Saddleworth area prior to the workshop and further research will identify places where a well dressing could take place.

The 2018 well dressing decoration will be available to view between September 15-22.

In addition to participants who expressed an interest in creating a dressing near to their homes, further well-being and women’s groups will work with Lindsey later in the year to learn the skill and find out about local traditions and women’s suffrage in Saddleworth.

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