Tissington well dressings to gain national recognition in WaterAid exhibit

11 May 2015

WaterAid Press Release
Date: 11 May 2015

Tissington’s annual Well-Dressing traditions (14-20 May), are to be featured as part of a national photo exhibition organised by international development charity WaterAid. The exhibition, which forms part of the charity’s ‘Big History Project’, will be shown in London in June and then in various locations around the county.

As we approach the 150 year anniversary of the UK's first modern sewer system which helped eliminate diseases like cholera, WaterAid’s Big History Project, will tell the stories of the people behind the progress in the UK.and those who are still living without water and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities.

During the well dressing week, Tissington, which has been in the FitzHerbert family for over 500 years, welcomes over 35,000 visitors who join in the celebrations of having clean water.

WaterAid is sending photographer Thomas Ball, who is a Prix Pictet nominee and Magenta Foundation Flash Forward Winner, to capture unique images of the Tissington dressings.

Sir Richard FitzHerbert, owner of the Tissington Estate, said: “I'm delighted to announce that one of the well dressings will be part of the 'Big History Project' photo exhibition that WaterAid is showing in London.

“It’s important to keep our traditions going, and I’m excited to know that our beautiful well dressings will inspire a whole new audience in London and around the country.

“What really appeals to me is the opportunity this exhibition provides to highlight how springs and wells like ours are still at the heart of community life just as much now, as centuries ago. It's fascinating to me, that we can think of people worldwide, celebrating their water, just as we do here, with flowers and blessings - it is our most precious resource after all."

Laura Summerton, WaterAid’s Senior Photography Officer, explained: "We are so excited to include a photograph of the Tissington well dressings as part of our exhibition. There are strong parallels between the giving of thanks for water in the Peak District, and similar celebrations that happen far away countries such as Madagascar and Nepal, each time a new water pump is installed. The life-saving values of water are relevant, wherever you are.

"We will be drawing out these parallels in the exhibition that will take place in June at London Bridge City Pier. People who visit will think about the water and sanitation provisions we have the UK and what we need to do to make it happen for everyone, everywhere in the world.”

The Big History Project photo exhibition is one of many activities WaterAid is organising this summer to highlight the importance of water and sanitation in the lead up to the UN General Assembly in September. During this crucial meeting governments will decide international development priorities for the next 15 years – the Sustainable Development Goals.

The public can lend their support by signing WaterAid’s petition to make sure that everyone, everywhere has taps and toilets by 2030 for a healthier, fairer and more sustainable world. The petition can be signed here


Notes to editors


WaterAid's Big History Project Photo Exhibition:

  • WaterAid’s photo exhibition on the history of water and sanitation will run in London in June and will then tour to other locations, including Manchester.
  • Dates: 6th June - 3rd July in London, London Bridge City Pier.
  • Purpose: The exhibition will highlight the importance of water and sanitation, in the lead up to a crucial meeting at the UN General Assembly, this September. Governments will decide the Sustainable Development Goals for international development priorities, for the next 15 years.
  • Photographs will include:
    • Well dressings in Tissington
    • Hugh Bonneville at Crossness
    • Tony Robinson in East London near where he grew up
    • Thirlmere Aqueduct, which was constructed 120 years ago to supply Manchester with drinking water from the Lake District
    • Sites of cholera pits in Manchester
    • Maharaja’s well – donated to the Chiltern Hills in the mid-1800s by the Maharajah of Benares