Today I’ve been researching England’s Holy Wells (you never know where the curse of curiosity will lead or what insanities it will breed) and I came across a text by a R.R. Rawlins written in the year 1823 titled; On the Ancient Custom of Decorating Wells with Flowers etc. In capturing a custom, Rawlins unwittingly captures a moment in the lives of ordinary people. As I was reading his descriptions of making the floral decorations I stopped and thought about the men and women who, after exhausting daily chores, gathered flowers and constructed these elaborate decorations for their local Holy Wells. The time and energy that went into creating these decorations must have been considerable. Rawlins was some sort of churchman so there’s a religious flavor to his reminisces, but that too is very Regency.
This event was a big deal; his text closes with, “The day concluded by the visitors partaking of the hospitality of the inhabitants, and being gratified with a well-arranged band, playing appropriate pieces of music at each other’s houses; and had the day been more favourable, and free from rain, a greater attendance at Church and the Wells would have been witnessed.”
It’s only three pages long. I highly recommend reading all three pages to get the full flavor (he starts out with a brief history of May Day), but if you just want to read about Holy Wells…start the fifth paragraph down where it reads: “The flowers used on this day…’
If you’re curious and want to read more about Holy Wells I found this page fascinating.