Well's Cathedral and the Bishop's Palace

Wells Travel Blog

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Me with yet another Kodak moment

One of my aims of this trip, along with taking in the autumn colours of the Lake District was also to visit the Kodak Moments places in England, ones that I hadn't thought of or had just plain dodged in the last few many trips of mine. And when I knew that I'm going with my mum and dad to Bath, and will be based there for 3 days, I knew there was enough to see nearby. I'm still gutted that we couldn't get to both Castle Combe and Lacock Village (although I had stopped at Lacock briefly 3 years ago and wasn't mighty impressed), I'm still glad that I could fit in 3 tourist spots on Day one - namely Wells, Glastonbury and Cheddar Gorge.

West view of the Cathedral

We woke up that morning around 7am, got ready and went down to breakfast at 845am. The breakfast - as usual was late but we did eat very well and left the B&B by about 945am. I was a bit nervous to sit behind the wheels again, but I slowly got used to driving in England and now I can safely say I quite enjoy it.

Our first stop that day was Wells Cathedral. The drive to Wells was also lovely - the same repetitive yet very engrossing green plains with cows and sheep and all kinds of animals, but I had to keep my eye on the road and couldn't focus much on it. When one travels with one's parents, one doesn't want to make mistakes whilst driving! We reached Wells and parked right outside the Cathedral, I was quite pleased but turns out that it's only a 30 min parking, so I had to park a bit farther away.

..but no problem. Enough has been said about Wells Cathedral - it's magnificent. It's a Cathedral, and you'd think "uh huh...another one" but it's different from the other Minsters and Cathedrals I've seen as far as the facade goes - see the first picture. There's a certain grandeur that comes with its shape which is different from the other big Abbeys and like we've seen. The entry is from the West side.

This Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Bath and Wells, who lives at the adjacent Bishop's Palace. It was built around the 12th or 13th century by an English religious leader and has gone through various changes in both the structure of the building as well as ownership and maintenance through the centuries.

The interior of the Cathedral again was very detailed, but pretty much like any other we've seen.

The 2nd oldest functional clock in the world
The interesting point here however was the 2nd oldest clock in the world (see picture) - the Well's Clock.  The dial represents the geocentric view of the universe, with sun and moon revolving round a central fixed earth. It still has its original medieval face, and may be unique in showing a philosophical model of the pre-Copernican universe with the earth at its centre. As well as showing the time on a 24 hour dial, it also reflects the motion of the sun and the moon, the phases of the moon, and the time since the last new moon. When the clock strikes every quarter, jousting knights move around above the clock and the Quarter Jack bangs the quarter hours with his heels. An outside clock opposite Vicars' Hall, placed there just over seventy years after the interior clock, is connected with the inside mechanism.
stained glass at the east end

After a round at the Cathedral, we went to the adjoining canteen for a quick lunch - lovely soup (mashed peas and mint!), cheese scone and a veg quiche. I must also comment at how friendly the Cathedral staff/ religious people were. They were actually chatting and very friendly with all. My father's a civil engr and I'm in software, so one of the staff there was asking us about technology, and what my dad thought of the building, etc. Very nice to have friendly folks in a Cathedral.

We got out of the Cathedral and went to the Vicars' Close which is a nice cul-de-sac kind of thing with houses and prominent chimneys. Nothing to see or do, but worth for a picture (think Arlington Row!).

From here, we went to the next door Bishop's Palace. This place has been the home of the Bishops of the Diocese of Bath and Wells for 800 years Part of the buildings are still used as a residence by the current bishop, however much of the palace is now used for public functions.

The inner cloisters
Personally, I found this place a bit boring and couldn't "feel" the history about the place. Also, part of the house was being renovated and closed, and there was some function going on when we went, so that again blocked off quite a good part for us. Ironically, the biggest highlight is the one that's free - The Mute Swans. These swans in the moat at the Bishops Palace have for centuries been trained to ring bells via strings attached to them to beg for food. Two swans which were given to the bishop by Queen Elizabeth II in 2006, are still able to ring for lunch. We actually saw them do that, it was amazing.

We'd spent over 2 hours in this place and time was flying........ so we walked back to the carpark (my dad didnt like the idea, it was a long long way away), and next stop: Glastonbury.


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Me with yet another Kodak moment
Me with yet another Kodak moment
West view of the Cathedral
West view of the Cathedral
The 2nd oldest functional clock in…
The 2nd oldest functional clock i…
stained glass at the east end
stained glass at the east end
The inner cloisters
The inner cloisters
Vicars Close
Vicars' Close
Entry to the Bishops Palace
Entry to the Bishop's Palace
The Bishops Palace
The Bishop's Palace
View from the Bishops Palace
View from the Bishop's Palace
The Bishops Palace
The Bishop's Palace
The mute swans at the Bishops Pal…
The mute swans at the Bishop's Pa…
View of the city centre
View of the city centre
Wells
photo by: tj1777