Here’s one of those true but surprising facts. Wells is the second smallest city in the UK. What is surprising is which it’s second to… London! Of course what we “think of” as London is a sprawling metropolis, but the actual “City of London” is actually a very small centre (1.12 square miles) by council city boundary. Wells is 2.11 square miles.
When one visits Wells, it feels like a town with a cathedral. I’ve written about the cathedral before, this time I’m going to write about the Bishops Palace that is right next door. Entry is via the drawbridge and portcullis, shown above. Just to the right of the little boy feeding the swans is a window, and to the right of that, is a bell. The swans swim up to it in the morning and pull on the string, ring the bell to be fed!
The nearby City of Bath, has an Abbey while Wells has a cathedral, they both share the same Bishop, and this is his official residence, and has been for 800 years. The great hall above, was built by Bishop Burnell, in the 1280’s, along with his private chapel. A better feel for the layout shown below.
What’s called the “North Range and Tower” is still home and offices to the current bishop, the part that is open to the public is the older part, accessed through the porch to the left of the Chapel above. Inside are portraits of past bishops, often art exhibitions, and a wonderful stair case.
The main point of visiting however is not actually the building but it’s garden, partly overseen by the RHS. Retracing our steps back to the Great Hall, the visitor can pass through and into the gardens which cover some 14 acres!
In the closest part of the garden to the cathedral, there are springs. Water that bubbles up, filtered by the Mendip hills. Originally a tangle of streams, they now form, ponds, that, via man made channels flow into the moat.
When the weather is calm, it is possible to see the cathedral reflected in the pool, not on the day of our visit. What we did see was the ancient Well House built in 1451, part of a water system, set up by Bishop Bekynton to provide fresh water to the townspeople. The “wells” here are thought to have been sacred for thousands of years, certainly the Well of St Andrew, and it is from this, that the city derives not just it’s name but also it’s beginnings.
Photographically speaking, the square images in this post were made on my Rolleicord Va on Gold 200, while the 35mm was Kodak Color Plus 200 with my Nikon F3.