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Visit Wells Somerset 2017 [ Documentary ]-2

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Wells sits at the foot of the Mendip Hills, part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The water that runs down from the Mendips helped to form the 3 wells from which the City is named. The earliest settlement here was Roman, attracted by this source of water. The area developed during Anglo Saxon times and in 704 King Ine of Wessex founded a minster church here. 200 years later in 909 it became the newly appointed seat of The Bishop of Wells and in 1245 it became the seat of The Bishop of Bath and Wells. Wells is mentioned in The Doomsday Book in 1086 as Welle In the first half of the 13th Century, the building of The Cathedral and The Bishop’s Palace was well under way. These 2 historic buildings are the Jewells in the Crown of the Medieval centre of Wells. The building of The Cathedral commenced in 1175. Bishop Reginald de Bohun brought the idea of this revolutionary architectural style from France and it was the first English Cathedral to be built entirely in this Gothic style. The first building phase took about 80 years, building from East to West and culminating in the magnificent West Front. Around 300 of its original medieval statues remain, a glorious theatrical stone backdrop for feast day processions. The view of The Chapter House steps is one of the most photographed areas of any Cathedral. The scissor arches, which often visitors believe to be modern additions, were constructed from 1338-48 as an engineering solution to a very real problem. As soon as the Cathedral’s central tower was completed it became obvious that its weight was too great for the crossing. In fear of a total collapse the famous ‘scissor arches’ were put in place by master mason William Joy as a final solution to internal strengthening. Vicars’ Close was built over 650 years ago to house the Vicars Choral (men of the Cathedral choir) and it has since been continuously inhabited by their successors. The houses are an early example of collegiate architecture and originally looked similar to a quadrangle more commonly seen today in Oxford. Vicars’ Close is now the most complete example of a medieval Close in the UK. The Cathedral was affected by the Protestant Reformation of Henry VIII but in 1645 Parliament abolished bishoprics and closed Cathedrals. In 1660 under the rule of Charles II, the Cathedral was re opened. During the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685, rebel soldiers occupied the Cathedral and used the cloisters as stables. Today the Cathedral stands as a proud testament to the skills of the craftsmen who worked so hard to create it over many many years. The Bishop’s Palace adjacent to the Cathedral has been home to The Bishop of Bath and Wells for over 800 years. Surrounded by a breath-taking moat with resident swans, visitors can cross a flagstone drawbridge walk under the portcullis, and experience a true hidden gem in the heart of the City of Wells. As described by an American visitor 130 years ago, this is a ‘palace of enchantment’. There are 14 acres of outstanding RHS Partner gardens to explore, including the beautiful well pools from which the city takes its name, with frequent family events, guided tours, a gift shop and a café with the best views in Wells! The Bishop’s Palace dates from the early-thirteenth century when Bishop Jocelin Trotman, the first Bishop to hold the title Bishop of Bath and Wells, received a crown licence to build a residence and deer park on land to the south of the Cathedral of St Andrew. Although still home to the Bishop and other families, visitors can walk in the footsteps of past bishops through a number of rooms within the Palace. You are also welcome to look around the Bishop’s private Chapel, explore the ruined Great Hall and meet the famous mute swans who live in the moat and ring a bell when they want food. Venture through the archway known as the Bishop’s Eye from the market square and you will be confronted by a moat, gatehouse with drawbridge and ramparts topped with crenellations. As a visitor, you will be welcomed with open arms, but Bishop Ralph was more wary about his callers. The mid 1300s were a time of plague, famine and political war and he built these ramparts for protection and also as a symbol of authority and power. Today the ramparts provide unmissable, spectacular views, including those of Glastonbury Tor, the Mendips and the neighbouring Cathedral. Many visitors are intrigued by what lies within the moat and ramparts. Here they can discover and explore what is acknowledged to be the most impressive historic bishop’s house still in use in England and a striking example of how bishops in medieval times used buildings to demonstrate their political power. The unusually grand, episcopal chapel, built between 1275 and 1292 for Bishop Burnell, Chancellor of the Exchequer under Edward I, has been used for centuries by the Bishops of Bath and Wells, and their households, for private prayer and is still in use for weddings and other events as is the stunning undercroft. The architecture is a great example of the Early English Decorated Style. Bishop Burnell’s splendid dining and entertaining hall, was built c.1290 alongside his chapel. Although only two walls and the four corner turrets survive, it is still one of the most impressive examples of a medieval open hall; its huge size reflects the power held by Bishop Burnell as a leading statesman of his time. On Wednesdays and Saturdays there is a Farmers’ Market in The Market Place, stalls include locally sourced food and drink and hand made craft products. Some hot food is also provided including traditional English Fayre as well as Indian and Thai cuisine. On Market days there are also Historic walking tours around Wells which can be pre booked or turn up on the day. They start at 11am from The Crown Hotel in The Market Place and last for around 90 minutes. These walking tours are less frequent in the winter months. Wells is host to a number of independent shops some of which have been family run businesses for many years. There is a well established hardware store, 2 delicatessens and a good selection of clothes shops. There are also well established hotels in the Historic Centre (Swan, Ancient Gatehouse, The Crown and White Hart) as well as a good choice of quality restaurants (Goodfellows, Rugantinos, Sadlers and ensemble, Greek Taverna) and cafes (The Liberty, Crofters, No 21, Pickwicks). There is a Tourist Information Centre based at the Museum which is adjacent to The Cathedral as wells as a number of machines selling maps of the City Centre. There are a number of interesting buildings (The Rib behind the Cathedral, The Cathedral School with its many varied buildings, Chamberlain Street) and throughout the City there are a number of plaques explaining the history and development of Wells (outside Basil Powell, The Priory etc). There are five almshouse buildings in Wells. The earliest were founded in the 15th century through a legacy from The Bishop of Bath and Wells. Bubwith’s almshouses are located next to St Cuthbert’s churchyard and includes a chapel and a guild-room. In the early sixteen hundreds Henry Llewellyn left a legacy to build a further series of almshouses in Priests Row to the North of St Cuthbert’s Church. St Cuthbert's is the largest parish church building in Somerset. It is so big, and has such a prominent position in the heart of the city of Wells, that visitors often think they have reached the Cathedral as they arrive through its mediaeval entrance porch. We look forward to welcoming you to our historic City and we hope that you have an enjoyable time and that you will come back again soon.

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Posted by: alfiejohnsonphotography on Dec 15, 2017

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