Nestling at the foot of the
Mendip Hills in the heart of Somerset, the City of
Wells is a conservation miracle, its historic core preserved almost intact from the Middle Ages. Its magnificent Cathedral and Green are jewels in a crown of ancient streets, glorious buildings and characterful shops.
Wells is England’s smallest city, first granted a Royal Charter by King John in 1201, it is an un-spoilt market town of outstanding beauty and heritage.
Wells takes its name from the springs which rise in the gardens of Bishop’s Palace. Among the city’s best-loved features is the spring water from St Andrew’s well which flows through the Conduit in the Market Place and on down either side of the High Street.
Wells may be small but it is packed with interest, including twice weekly markets, inspired shopping and lively pubs, excellent restaurants and hotels, a cinema and leisure centre.
Wells Cathedral is the first English-built and designed example in the Gothic style dating back to 1180. Its famous features include the spectacular West front which looks over the Village Green, unique scissor arches in the Nave, a panorama of The Last Judgment, The Chapter House and the 600 year old Astronomical clock, the second oldest surviving in England after the one in Salisbury Cathedral. The clock shows the position of the planets and the phase of the moon, and there’s an entertaining cabaret act performed above it on the hour by jousting knights on horseback.
The Bishop’s Palace protected by high defensive walls, a moat and gatehouse with drawbridge and portcullis, has been home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells for 800 years and is probably the most perfect and complete surviving example of a medieval bishop’s palace. The state rooms and gardens are open to the public on certain days. The swans on the moat ask for food by ringing a bell near the drawbridge.
After the first Church of St Andrew built around AD 700, fell into decay, the present
Cathedral Church of St Andrew was built in stages between 1180 and 1508, incorporating several Gothic styles. Its most famous asset is the wonderful west front, an immense sculpture gallery with over 300 figures built between 1230 and 1250 and restored to its original splendour in 1986. Apart from the figure of Christ, installed in 1985 in the uppermost niche, all figures are original.