Flower of the Wells

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FLOWER OF THE WELLS, THE. English, Country Dance or Jig. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The following perhaps explains the title:

A very remarkable occurrence in connection with Hunsingore church is recorded in the Sessions Rolls of the West Riding, 1597-98 : —

"Fforasmuch as it is manifestlie proved to this Court (the court then sitting in sessions at Wetherby) that Ffrancis Thompson and George Allen of Hunsingore did in a most contemptuous manner bring into Hunsingore Church a Toie called the Flower of the Well in the tyme of divine service, wherebie the Vicar was disturbed in saieing the said service. It is therefore ordered that the said Francis and George shall be presently stripped naked from the middle upward and whipped throwe this town of Wetherby for their said offence."

The toy here referred to was in all probability an image which had been used at one of the old well-deckings, in celebrating which it was usual to construct an effigy of the saint to whom the well was dedicated, and to trick it out with gew-gaws and llowers and carry it in procession.

[See: J. S. (Joseph Smith) Fletcher, A picturesque history of Yorkshire, being an account of the history, topography, and antiquities of the cities, towns and villages of the county of York, founded on personal observations made during many journeys through the Three Ridings.

The title may also refer to well-dressing, which, since the 19th century is a custom shared by a number of English villages (Tissington, the best known). However the more modern elaboration is probably based on a widespread custom of decorating wells with ribbons and garlands [Simpson & Roud, Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore, 2000].

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Samuel, Ann & Peter Thompson (Twenty-Four Country Dances for the Year 1786), 1786; p. 29. Samuel, Ann & Peter Thompson (Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 5), 1788; p. 29.

Recorded sources:




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