Cheddar Gorge & Wells,


5th - 7th February



  Picture courtesy of Wiki


On Sunday 7th February, on an overcast day, I travelled back home via Wells, a town dominated by its splendid cathedral. Wells is a small cathedral city and civil parish in the Mendip district of Somerset, on the southern edge of the Mendip Hills. Although the population, recorded in the 2001 census, is only 10,406, it has had city status since 1205. The name Wells derives from the three wells dedicated to St Andrew one in the market place and two within the grounds of the Bishop's Bishop's Palace and cathedral There was a small Roman settlement around the wells but its importance grew under the Saxons when King Ine of Wessex founded a minster church in 704, around which the settlement grew. Two hundred years later, this became the seat of the local bishop; but in 1088, this had controversially been removed to Bath. The cathedral and the associated religious and architectural history have made Wells a tourist destination, which provides much of the employment. I reached the car park on the perimeter of the city just after a number of the hiking contingent had arrived, after leaving Cheddar. I strolled down to the cathedral and approached the entrance from the main street via the Bishop's Eye and Penniless Porch, entrance gateway into a walled precinct, the Liberty of St Andrew, which encloses the 12th century Wells Cathedra, the Bishop's Palace, Vicar's Close and the residences of the clergy who serve the cathedral.















Wells was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Welle, from the Old-English wiells, which was not listed as a town, but included four manors with a population of 132, which implies a population of 500–600. An established market had been created in Wells by 1136, and it remained under Episcopal control until its city charter from Elizabeth I in 1589. During the English Civil War, Parliamentarian troops used the cathedral to stable their horses and damaged much of the ornate sculpture by using it for firing practice William Penn stayed in Wells shortly before leaving for America, spending a night at The Crown Inn. Here he was briefly arrested for addressing a large crowd in the market place, but released on the intervention of the Bishop of Bath and Wells. During the Monmouth Rebellion the rebel army attacked the cathedral in an outburst against the established church and damaged the west front. Lead from the roof was used to make bullets, windows were broken, the organ smashed and horses stabled in the nave. Wells was the final location of the Bloody Assizes on September 23, 1685. In a makeshift court lasting only one day, over 500 men were tried and the majority sentenced to death.







Picture courtesy of Wiki






Wells Cathedral is a Church of England Cathedral. It is the seat of the Bishop of Bath and Wells, who lives at the adjacent Bishop's Palace. Built between 1175 and 1490, Wells Cathedral has been described as “the most poetic of the English Cathedrals”. Much of its structure is in the early English style. The first church was established on the site in 705. The only remains of this first church are some excavated foundations which can be seen in the cloisters. The present structure was begun under the direction of Bishop Reginald de Bohun, who died in 1184.  It was largely complete at the time of its dedication in 1239. During the time when King John was excommunicated between 1209 and 1213, work on the cathedral was suspended. In this period, building technology advanced so that bigger blocks of masonry could be moved and incorporated into the walls. The effect of this technological advance can be seen on the walls of the cathedral; at a particular point in the building's walls, the blocks of stone can be seen to increase in size. By the time of its completion in 1306, it included an octagonal chapter house, with the steps leading up. The interior of the cathedral is based on three aisles, with stress being placed on horizontal, rather than vertical lines. A unique feature in the crossing are the double pointed inverted arches, known as owl-eyed strainer arches. This unorthodox solution was found by the cathedral mason, William Joy in 1338, to stop the central tower from collapsing when another stage and spire were added to the tower which had been begun in the 13th century.



[UK - index] [Home Page]

[Cheddar - 1] [Wells - 2] [Wells - 3]


Links to other websites:

Cheddar Gorge hostel - webpage

Mendip Hills AONB - website

Cheddar village - website

Cheddar Gorge cheese - a website

Cheddar Gorge and Wookey Hole, home of spooks, cannibals and witches - website

Sacred destinations: Wells Cathedral - webpage