Bisley Well Dressing ceremony, Ascension Day 2019
I went to the annual Well Dressing ceremony in the village of Bisley, four miles east of Stroud. The 'wells' now are the Victorian frontage for six springs or spouts flowing out of the hilltop on which the church was built. Prior to this edifice, there was thought to have been an Anglo-Saxon minster on the site. Certainly Bisley was an ancient centre of the region, before Stroud rose to prominence in the 13th century.
The water is channelled from the spouts into a culvert running under the Wells Road and from there it flows down hill cutting a steep valley through the various Cotswold limestone outcrops and forms the Toadsmoor valley a couple of miles downstream. This Toadsmoor stream then joins the River Frome between Chalford and Brimscombe, which flows near our home and on through Stroud.
The children are students of the BlueCoat school, sited next to the church, which is built just above this scene. Since the Well Dressing ceremony was initiated there has always been a church service before a marching band leads the procession of the children, who carry the flowers, and local villagers down to the wells. The flowers are placed all over the stonework and then a blessing is said by the vicar and several hymns are sung.
You can read a bit more about it here.
- Canon EOS 5D Mark III