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About Derbyshire / Local Customs

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Well Dressings
Well dressing is one of Derbyshire's best known customs. It is thought that it originated during Pagan times, whilst others have thought that the Romans may have introduced it. People also believe that the outbreak of the bubonic plague during the 17th Century may have also brought about it's origin.

The oldest recorded well dressing was in Tissington in 1349, and this rather peculiar ceremony of well dressing is still celebrated in more than sixty towns and villages throughout Derbyshire.

The wells are decorated with flower petals, berries, moss, cones, seeds, tree bark or really anything that is natural. These are then pressed into clay, which is held in wooden framework. Once completed they are then blessed by the local clergy. The dressings remain in place for a week, dependant upon the weather.

Click here to view the list of the Well Dressings...

Shrovetide Football
Ashbourne is the home of Shrovetide Football where it has been played for centuries and it is possibly over 1,000 years old. The true origins of the annual Shrovetide Football have long been lost in the midst of time. The earliest surviving reference to the game was in 1683 when Charles Cotton wrote about it.

The game is played every Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday and consists of two teams. Up to 10,000 players compete over the two days with a hand-painted, cork-filled ball. It is a moving brawl which continues through the roads of the town, across fields and even along the bed of the local river.

Not many things have interrupted the Shrovetide game since 1891 and it continued through two world wars. Only 'Foot and Mouth' has caused the cancellation of the game, in 1968 and 2002.

In 1928 it became the Royal Shrovetide Football game, when the then Prince of Wales, who later became Edward VIII, 'turned up' the ball.

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