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Having posted last week about the Village of Eyam in Derbyshire, cancelling its commemorative annual church service this year because of the corvid 19 virus I discovered another effect of the virus on traditional events which normally occur at this time.
Well Dressing is a tradition centred on the communities of the Derbyshire Peak District which usually takes place between May and the end of September. Different towns and villages decorate their wells at varying dates within that time period. Its origins are unsure, some suggest that it has Christian origins and began as a thanks for salvation during the period of the black death plague during the 1300s. There is evidence of the village of Tissington’s taking place during that period. However, most believe that the ceremony has a pagan origin, connected to worship of gods of springs and wells. Some people believe that the origins are Celtic and predate the Roman occupation of Britain, surviving the subsequent Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Norman influxes Since at least the middle-ages decorations usually follow Christian themes, sometimes linked to local or national events. The displays are made out of flowers and other natural materials.
Originating in the Derbyshire hills and a few communities in neighbouring Staffordshire the tradition has spread over the years and nowadays, some other areas of the county including the City of Derby itself also decorate a well.
Unfortunately, this year, many of the well dressing dedication ceremonies have been cancelled.
Suzanne from ’Lets go Peak District’ (Youtube)
Peak District Videos (Youtube)
Copyright – Alan Fleming / Eyam Church
I have decided to write this post after watching the local B.B.C. news programme for the English East Midlands this evening during which they mentioned that the picturesque village of Eyam in the Peak District National Park in Derbyshire had cancelled this year’s commemoration service at the village church.
The reason that this struck a cord with me is that I am currently working on a short novel in my ‘Saga of the Irrelevant One’ series in which the heroes take a holiday back in time around the Nottingham area in order to escape the current/recent/pending pandemic lockdown. I did consider including Eyam as one of the locations they could visit (not in the immediate Nottingham area, but could still count as it is located in a neighbouring county). However, I decided against it.
The issue is that Eyam is famous because in 1655, during the reign of Charles II, there was an outbreak of plague in England, centred on London. It is believed that this outbreak reached Eyam in particular by being transferred via an order of material from London delivered to a local tailor.
As soon as the local villagers became aware of the outbreak, the story is that they agreed, led by their local vicar, to self- isolate in their village in order to spare their neighbours the risk of plague. This idea of self-sacrifice has been challenged in recent times. I have seen a claim that the isolation may have been imposed by the authorities as a recent public health measure but the original story is still the most accepted. The village was cut off for over a year. Supplies were left at the parish boundary and payment was made in coins left in jars of vinegar. Approximately three quarters of the population died (260 people) and a tradition has grown in the village to commemorate this sacrifice in a special service in the last week in August.
My writing to date has tended to be of a very light-hearted nature, although I do hope to widen my scope in due course; so at a time when there are so many modern comparisons that can be made with the plagues of old, including high mortality rates, I have decided to leave the subject of Eyam out of my book.
Eyam Museum https://www.eyam-museum.org.uk/
Today we travel to the English East Midlands in the UK to chat with E.D. Robson about how having no practical skills, being a merchant navy cadet, swimming, pessimism, teaching, London, and Peak National Park come together as part of E.D.’s past and present life. Tell us a bit about yourself. I am 64 years…Meet the Author: Monica With A ‘K’ Saves the World by E.D. Robson — Meet The Authors
Book 2 of the ‘Alien Librarian’ series, ‘Monika saves the Universe’ on Amazon’. Book 1 ‘Monica with a ‘K’ saves the world’ also available.
A bit of a drift away from my normal blogs; Last night I watched a news programme on the BBC (Newsnight). The main point of discussion was the publication of a report about Russian interference in British political issues such as the referendums for Scottish Independence and Britain’s exit from the European Union.
One of those interviewed for the programme was Bob Seeley, a Member of Parliament from the Government’s side. This is not a blog about Mr. Seeley, referendums or even politics. My views, where they exist are nothing to do with what I have to say here. This is a blog about those with power taking responsibility for their actions.
Something I have long noticed is that whenever there is a major outrage about any issue in Britain, such as failings by social or health services resulting in deaths, policing faults, political scandals or bad behaviour by major corporations the top management of such bodies with control over polices, budgets or even responsibility for seeing that the day to day operation of the organisation in question usually seem to sail through. This is not to say that no one is held to account, usually those at the bottom of the ladder are hung out to dry. I am sure that this is a pretty standard reaction across the world, or at least those parts that pay some lip service to democracy.
This is not a call for witch hunts of those at the top, or a call for those lower down the ladder to escape censor when it is deserved. It is a call for accepting responsibility for your actions, or those of others you are responsible for, commensurate to your position. The ultimate example of this was the 2008 financial crash. We had, by average standards, massively remunerated individuals controlling the flows of billions of dollars across the world who justified their excesses by claiming superior decision and/or risk taking skills. The term ‘master’s of the universe’ was widely used. Yet when the crash occurred, they washed their hands of it, ‘you can’t blame us, we couldn’t see it coming, we’re just ordinary individuals.’
I could give numerous other examples. I recall being a young police officer in the U.K. when a senior officer informed us that following an expensive consultants report, the Chief Constable accepted that we had been doing certain things ineffectively over the past forty years and that they would now change. Apart from the fact that most of us could have come to the same conclusion without an expensive consultant’s report (although I understand the value of having a supposed expert report to back up your intended policy change) I was curious. I asked when the chief would be resigning, pointing out that common decency demanded that if you’d been running an organisation badly for a number of years, the least you should do is resign. Needless to say I was ignored.
Back to Mr. Seeley’s BBC interview last night. To be fair he was not personally responsible for the matter under discussion and he did not say that previous faults should not be examined. However he was very keen for attention to be focused on the future rather than the past, which strongly reminded me of senior people stating ‘lessons will have to be learned’ or ‘we will study this report carefully’ with no mention of sanction against should anyone at the top (often the speaker themselves) be found to have failed.
My weekly blog posts about life as a deck cadet in the British Merchant Navy in the 1970s now put together into a short book. Available on Amazon kindle and paperback ($1.14, £0.99)
Had to cut short my wanders due to the health scare so I stayed in all day Tuesday before driving home from London back to the Midlands that night (everywhere was closing down anyway so it’s not as if I made any sacrifice). However, before self-isolating I did manage to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum on Sunday where they had an exhibition on cars and one on Tim Walker, a leading photographer. It was on a visit to the V & A that I first discovered sculpture as they have some works by the French sculptor, Rodin. This visit, I found two sculptures of early Saxon gods, Thuner and Sunna
Visited London for London and South O.U.P.S. Day Conference at the London School of Economics and made a short five day break of it
O.U.P.S. stands for the Open University Psychological Society. It’s main purpose is to provide academic resources for O.U undergraduate students although it also includes members who have graduated (including myself). This year’s conference went ahead despite the current health situation although numbers attending were down on previous years and two of the speakers delivered their presentations through video conferencing. The theme of the conference was Technology, Psychology and Artificial Intelligence.
Also been visiting a few exhibitions and films. no worry about contagion, there were so few people about. This is a picture of China Town in Soho on Saturday night, normally it would be teeming with tourists.
The Wallace Collection
Visited an art exhibition at the Wallace Collection called ‘Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company’. Not that impressed with the exhibition but I like the venue (Hertford House, Manchester Square, London) and the permanent free exhibits including Dutch Masters and others, plus a collection of weapons and armour (not as famous as some other venues but well worth a visit).