The Wells of Wells

I knew Wells was England’s smallest city on the basis that a city has to have a cathedral rather than anyone actually living there. What I didn’t expect that Wells Cathedral would be so unutterably magnificent.

The Counties of England Card Game - Wells
The Counties of England Card Game – Wells

The building’s set in the medieval heart of the city, was built from the 12th to the 15th centuries, and is next to Vicars’ Close, the oldest continuously inhabited street in Europe. In Somerset!

Wells Cathedral has a breathtaking West Front:

The West Front of Wells Cathedral
The West Front of Wells Cathedral

Inside the Cathedral there’s the Wells Clock which has the second oldest clock mechanism in Great Britain. Up the stairs is my favourite room, an octagonal Chapter House with stunning architecture and 51 seats carved from stone:

Wells Cathedral - The octagonal Chapter House
Wells Cathedral – The octagonal Chapter House

“Intricate sculpture had developed considerably since the early Gothic period and the Chapter House is a triumph of the decorated style. Delicate ball-flower surrounds each window arch and the vault bosses have beautiful leaf designs. Seats round the outer walls give places to more than forty prebendaries or canons, to meet together and discuss the affairs of the cathedral. Legal proceedings were also carried out from time to time. Each seat is marked with headstops under the canopies and in all the corners there are humorous and mischievous faces.”

How did Wells Cathedral survive the Reformation when Glastonbury Abbey was ruined? Why did Glastonbury Abbey suffer such a disastrously different fate? It was all to do with the power of the monks, I’m told.

As if having the oldest continuously inhabited street next to the most stunning example of a 12th Century Gothic masterpiece of a cathedral wasn’t enough, Wells also has the Bishop’s Palace next to it with a full moat.

Wells - The Bishop's Palace
Wells – The Bishop’s Palace

The water for the Moat comes from the wells of Wells.

The Bishop’s Palace is a palace built for a bishop so it was slightly surprising that the current Bishop of Bath and Wells, Peter Hancock, decided not to live there. Despite his objections the Church of England refused him permission to swap his residence and insisted that the Palace was his home if he was Bishop.

Determination of objection to regulation transaction: House of Residence of Bishop of Bath and Wells” – Archbishops’ Council. 1 May 2014.

It’s a Palace fit for a King.

Who would have thought that a card game from the 1930s could be so much fun?

The Counties of England - A Geographical Game
The Counties of England – A Geographical Game – John Jaques & Son – 1930s

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