Wander Round the Cathedral City of Wells
Nestled to the south of the Mendip Hills, the Cathedral City of Wells is known to be England’s smallest and takes its unexpected city title, from the iconic 13th century Gothic style cathedral found at its centre. The current structure was erected between the 12th and 15th centuries and remains a significant landmark within the South West region, drawing worldly visitors to worship from far and wide.
The cathedral’s West Front is perhaps the most striking facet, but you can also find the one of only four chained libraries in the UK and the Wells Clock, considered to be the second oldest clock mechanism in Britain. On close inspection you can also obtain great views of the octagonal Chapter House and the Jesse Window; a fine example of medieval stained-glass.
You will also find Vicars’ Close adjoining the cathedral, which is thought to be the most complete example of such in the UK. The close was designed to provide communal living quarters for the Vicars’ Choral, an age-old tradition which remains to this day and adds additional value to the cathedral, which has been granted a number of prestigious awards. The houses were built in the 14th century, with for each vicar, but some of the original 42 have now been combined and today the close also houses a chapel, library, treasury and a dining hall by the beautiful Chain Gate Bridge.
Wells dates back to a Roman settlement around the bubbling springs of the Bishop’s Palace, which can be viewed on a tour of the medieval palace gardens, home to the various Bishops of Bath and Wells for over 800 years. On visiting this rich archaeological area you can view the fortified Palace walls, protected by its gatehouse with portcullis and drawbridge. Stepping though you can enjoy a leisurely walk round the enchanting ruins of the Great Hall and private chapel by the arboretum.
The town itself remains relatively unspoilt, with many other historical sites nearby, including St Cuthbert’s Church and the moat surrounding the Bishop’s Palace. The central Market Place comes alive with weekly markets, with narrow streets hosting an eclectic mix of architecture through the ages. Wells is just a 45 minute drive from the World Heritage City of Bath and provides a great base from which to explore many of the region’s other local attractions, across the Mendip Hills and Somerset Levels, such as Cheddar Gorge, Glastonbury Tor and Stourhead Gardens.