St Annes Well – Buxton.
Close to the centre of the town of Buxton in the county of Derbyshire and opposite the famous Crescent which is currently undergoing restoration can be found a well named and dedicated to the mother of the Virgin Mary. Buxton is a spa town and the health giving waters which rise up at a temperature of 28 degrees centigrade before being piped to St Anne’s well, this is the location where people can fill their bottles with the water which is claimed can help relieve the effects of rheumatism.
When I visited the well to take these photos I found that the well had been dressed, this involves flower petals being inserted into wet clay to form a picture, this ritual which is performed every year is to give thanks to the life giving waters which have in the past been a sought after resource in Derbyshire due to the limestone rock which is in abundance and which causes rainwater to easily soak away. This year the celebration is the 200th anniversary of the St John the Baptist church. On the 9th of August 1811 the 5th Duke of Devonshire was granted the power to build a new church in Buxton. The reason for this was because the existing churches in Buxton couldn’t cope with the influx of visitors wanting to seek out the health giving waters.
Before the church could be built 2000 wooden 16ft piles had to be sunk into the ground to secure the foundations as the ground was so boggy. The Cavendish family paid for the construction of the church which cost £2,200.
All the designs used in the well dressing picture have been taken from various parts of St John the Baptist church and the flower petals used to create this picture are hydrangea and gerbera and also eucalyptus leaves, seeds and bark and alder cones have also been utilised.
The town of Buxton grew from a settlement which was founded by the Romans to utilise the health giving waters found here. Back in those days the settlement was known as Aquae Arnemetiae (or the spa of the goddess of the grove).