St John the Baptist:
Mayfield Parish Church

Mayfield Parish Church

Last Mayfield Well Dressing

In September 2016 the Mayfield Heritage Group have put to bed, in safe storage, their boards, equipment, recycled clay, artwork and archive as a resource for future groups who may wish to reinstate the tradition. Anyone interested should contact [email protected] or see

The Origins of Well Dressing in Mayfield

The first Well Dressing festival in Mayfield was held in 1896 and was reported in the Ashbourne News Telegraph on the 3rd of July of that year. The event was repeated again in 1897, but sadly not repeated for nearly 100 years because the local vicar took exception to the behaviour of local revelers consuming too much alcohol at the Rose and Crown. Thanks to the visit of a postgraduate student from the University of California who contacted Gilbert Prince at Old Hall Farm regarding research for a thesis, Gilbert initiated the idea of re-instating Well Dressing in Mayfield. (Source: Well Dressing in Mayfield, Mayfield Heritage Group, 2006).

Gilbert, a founder member of the Mayfield Heritage Group, sadly passed away in 2014. His contribution to the Heritage Group and his support for the ancient tradition of well dressing is fondly remembered in Mayfield. He is much missed.

Mayfield Well Dressing - An ancient custom where folk art painted by local artists is transformed into colourful tableaux using flower petals and other natural materials.
Mayfield Train Line, Well Dressing in 2014, Designed by Philip Barritt
Photo by Mayfield Heritage Group (CC BY 4.0)

The Wells

The wells are situated in the heart of the lovely conservation area of Middle Mayfield, in the shadow of historic farmhouses and close to Mayfield Hall. The local community and children from the Henry Prince First School will gather at 2.00pm on Saturday 25th June 2015 to witness and participate with local clergy in blessing the wells, as a thanksgiving for the environment in which we live, and for the health-giving properties of clean water.

The dressed wells remain on display until the following Friday and attract many visitors who come to admire the artwork created by local artists and the children of the Henry Prince First School. The artwork is at its best during the first few days after the tableaux are erected. and can deteriorate during the week, depending on weather conditions. The artistry is recorded for posterity in the coloured sketches prepared by the artists, and photographs taken by many admirers, as well as the Ashbourne News Telegraph which runs a feature to promote the event. Mayfield Heritage Group also maintains an archive covering the last 20 years.

Fete on the Lawn of Mayfield Hall (no entry charge)

The Fete follows the Blessing Service, and runs from 3.00pm to 6.00pm. Mayfield community, friends and visitors come together to have a fun family afternoon on the lawn of Mayfield Hall to the musical accompaniment of the Osmaston Wind Band. Maypole dancing, performed by the children of the Henry Prince First School leads the afternoon’s festivities. The Heritage Group arranges several activities, including tea and homemade cakes, coconut shy, raffle, and lucky dip; all proceeds contribute to the cost of supporting the Well Dressing Festival for future years.

Other organizations and local businesses are also running stalls, including charity plant stall.

Getting There

Middle Mayfield is off the B 5032, about two miles from Ashbourne. On the afternoon of 13th June only, please observe a temporary one-way system by turning into Hermitage Lane (1.30pm to 6pm). Signs will indicate direction and parking. There is ample road side parking at all times of the day throughout the week.

More information:

Mayfield Parish Church
Church Lane
Church Mayfield
near Ashbourne

Updated: 16 October 2016