Visit Wells and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Wells, Somerset, is a cathedral city and for centuries its contribution to history was purely architectural and ecclesiastical, national drama impinging on it only rarely, as when Monmouth's followers stabled their horses in the cathedral. In the 13th century its population was about 4,000, and recorded in the 2001 census, is still only 10,406. The town still seems to hang humbly about the gates of what is the largest and best preserved medieval ecclesiastical precinct in the county. Taken as a whole the cathedral itself is one of the finest buildings (as well as the oldest of anything like its size) in Somerset. The best road approaches are from the East and North; the view of it from round Dulcote, 1 mile South East, probably the finest of all. The city's streets are one-way, and to save driving in circles it is wise to make at once for a car park: the nearest is in the Market Place just North West of the cathedral.
Begun in c. 1180, the cathedral was built in stages: the east end of the nave is the earliest part, the astonishing west front and the nave west of the north porch c. 1235, the central tower 1318, and at roughly the same time the Lady Chapel was added and the choir reconstructed. The two western towers were the last additions, the south one c. 1384, the north c. 1424. Across the nave a brilliant swirl of arches was put up shortly after the central tower to stop it falling. Particularly beautiful are the l2th century north porch, the nave, the Lady Chapel and its windows, and the choir's l4th century east window. In the north transept is a remarkable l4th century clock, across the face of which knights joust on the hour. Close to it a superb stone staircase leads to the Chapter House (c. 1300) which has a fine fan-vaulted ceiling emanating from a central column. The cathedral's south door leads to beautiful 15th and 16th century cloisters.
Of the precinct's other buildings, the Vicar's Close, an outwardly little-altered street just North of the Chapter House, has similar l4th century houses. It houses the “vicars choral” — clerical assistants with special reference to singing. Above the entrance to it is their fine dining-hall with much of its original furniture. South across the green, the moated Bishop's Palace (basically 13th century) is not normally open, but the episcopal swans entertain by ringing a bell near the drawbridge when hungry.
The city's civic — as distinct from ecclesiastical— centre has traditionally been a few hundred yards to the West, beyond the shopping centre. Here is the 15th century Church of St Cuthbert, which is tall and light inside with a tie-beam roof and, just to the North 15th century almshouses and the ancient Guildhall.
Almost all the numerous pubs between these two areas are in some respect ancient and attractive; in particular the City Arms, near St Cuthbert's Church, which was the city gaol till the 19th century, and in the courtyard of the 17th century Crown, William Penn, the Quaker, is said to have preached to an audience of 2,000 and been arrested.
Nearby towns: Burnham-on-Sea, Glastonbury, Shepton Mallet, Street, Radstock, Weston-Super-Mare
Nearby villages: Ashcott, Axbridge, Baltonsborough, Binegar, Cheddar, Chesterblade, Chewton Mendip, Chilcompton, Compton, Compton Martin, Ditcheat, Draycott, East Harptree, East Pennard, Emborrow, Evercreech, Farrington Gurney, Godney, Hallatrow, Hornblotton, Kilmersdon, Litton, Meare, Midsomer Norton, North Widcombe, North Wootton, Oakhill, Paulton, Pilton, Polsham, Priddy, Pylle, Rodney Stoke, Shipham, Sidcot, South Widcombe, Stratton-on-the-Foss, Ubley, Walton, Wedmore, West Cranmore, West Harptree, West Pennard, Westbury, Wookey, Wookey Hole
Have you decided to visit Wells or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Wells bed and breakfast (a Wells B&B or Wells b and b)
- a Wells guesthouse
- a Wells hotel (or motel)
- a Wells self-catering establishment, or
- other Wells accommodation