Hundreds turn out for Bisley well dressing ceremony

First published in News Stroud News and Journal: Photograph of the Author by , News editor

THE STREETS of Bisley were lined with spectators on Thursday as the village turned out for the annual Ascension Day Well Dressing ceremony.

Following a service by the Very Rev Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester, children from Bisley Blue Coat Primary School led a procession down to the village well, accompanied by the Avening Silver Band. The children carried bouquets of flowers, which were used to decorate the ancient village well.

Present at the ceremony was 92-year-old former Bisley resident Joan Dutton, who had returned for the first time since she was a child.

She has fond memories of taking part in the procession when she was young.

"It is wonderful to be back in Bisley, and we have been to see the house where I used to live. It has brought back some lovely old memories," she said.

The tradition of dressing the well started in 1863 to give thanks for the purity of the water, and children from Bisley Blue Coat have been involved ever since.

Also watching was Fiona Gegg, whose seven children have all taken part in the procession over the years, and whose son Ewan was carrying flowers this year.

She said: "It is very traditional, and the concept is still the same as it has always been. It is lovely to see all the children taking part."

Another regular at the ceremony was Geoff Evans, 74, who has played trombone with the Avening Silver Band at the last seven well dressings.

"It is great to be here and be part of the tradition. Hopefully I will still be fit and well enough to do it again next year," he said.

Events started with a service at All Saints Church, where the Rev Simon Richards, the vicar of Bisley, was joined by Mr Lake.

He said: "It is wonderful that the tradition has gone on for almost 150 years, and it was good to see so many people coming down to see the ceremony."

The procession was followed by afternoon tea in Bisley village hall.

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