My mum and I had one full day to explore the delights of Wells, a gorgeous little town in Somerset. We had already had a little wander around the town the previous afternoon when we arrived, but on our second day there we were all about exploring the two major sights that Wells has to offer – The Bishop’s Palace and Wells Cathedral.
It had been a sweltering night, we were experiencing unusually hot weather which made our hotel room like a sauna. We had a small fan to try to help circulate some air, but it didn’t really do much. However, somehow we both managed to get some sleep and rose early to make the most of the day. The fact that it was another glorious day outside definitely helped me shoot out of bed a bit faster than I normally would!
We got up and dressed and ambled downstairs to see what they had on offer for breakfast. I was suitably impressed! There was a good selection, cereals, muesli, pastries and cooked options. I couldn’t help myself and opted for the Full English, my thinking being it would fuel me up for the day (and also to be a bit indulgent!).
After having a nice leisurely breakfast we gathered our things and headed out into the streets of Wells – first stop the Bishop’s Palace!
The Palace dates from the early 13th Century and has been home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells for over 800 years. You are able to enjoy the gorgeous gardens and see inside some of the Palace itself. There are also moats and swans, ramparts and gatehouses to explore!
Paying our entrance fee of £8.95 each, we walked towards the gardens, entering through the remains of the Great Hall. The hall was built around 1290, however there are now only two walls and the corner turrets that remain.
It is still possible to appreciate just how great this Great Hall once was though! The scale of it was immense. I stood at one end of it gazing up at the walls, trying to imagine what it once looked like. Such a shame that it did not survive, it would have been a truly magnificent space had it all still been standing!
The grounds around it are manicured and set the scene beautifully. It really does feel like your quintessential English country garden. And with the bright blue skies and blazing sunshine, it just set it off perfectly. We walked up to the ramparts and took in the views of the moat from there.
After taking in the beautiful gardens, we walked into the palace itself. The part you can wander around is fairly small, but it gives a good idea of what it would have looked like.
It’s also possible to look around the chapel, with its amazing stained glass windows and vaulted ceiling.
On exiting the chapel we walked through to the Palace itself. There are various rooms to explore over two floors with little exhibits along the way.
One exhibit which I found particularly interesting was the Cope that was worn for the Queen Elizabeth II grandfather’s coronation, along with the cope chest which was huge.
We saw another one in the cathedral itself which was much older, but interesting to learn how these items are kept!
I have to say the Palace was beautiful and the grounds are just gorgeous. Seeing it in such glorious weather definitely helped!! I think that the most impressive part were the remains of the great hall, although there is hardly any of it left, the scale of the building can still be seen and you only have to use your imagination to see what it might have been like.
On exiting the Palace via the gatehouse and drawbridge, we stopped by the moat to see the swans… although people were feeding them bread, even though there are signs that ask them not to!
By this point we were both in need of some light refreshment, so sought out another of the teashops in the marketplace (Café 21) for a lemonade and a packet of crisps!
Wells Cathedral was next on our list, so after a suitable rest, off we went again. There is no entrance fee for the cathedral, but they do ask for a donation which I feel is more than reasonable to contribute to its upkeep.
The entrance leads to the Cloisters which run around the Palm Churchyard. They are pretty spectacular, so we followed them around to enter the cathedral in the Quire, which is the oldest part of the present cathedral.
The 12th century cathedral itself was awe-inspiring! It’s huge and the architecture is stunning.
As you look up you will see unusual arches that were built in medieval times to stop the tower foundations sinking. They are called Scissor Arches and they are a beautiful piece of engineering and architecture – I couldn’t stop taking photos of them! The colour of the stone is also lovely, light honey tones!
There were school children doing a rehearsal for an event whilst we were there, so we couldn’t take photos from the west end looking down the centre of the cathedral which was a shame, but I think I took enough photos elsewhere anyway!! We did get to experience the sound of children singing which filled the cathedral, it was something to hear!
We left the cathedral via the shop to buy some postcards and made our way to the Market Place Cafe for a cream tea (it would be rude not to!). They had gluten-free scones in this particular cafe and I can confirm they were delicious!! I couldn’t finish them but never mind, they come highly recommended!
After that, we just had Vicars’ Close to see and it was definitely worth it! Walking up past the Cathedral green again and alongside the building you can appreciate its grandeur.
And Vicars’ Close, well what a gem and should not be missed on a visit to the city. It’s beautiful!
A small cobbled street of medieval cottages on either side, with a chapel at one end. Dating back to the 14th century and built originally to house the vicars of the cathedral, this is apparently the oldest fully intact residential street in Europe (although I can’t verify that!).
It is utterly gorgeous!
I ambled down the street to have a look at the small chapel at the far end. I got talking to a man who was in the front garden of one of the houses. He motioned for me to see the chapel, I explained that I already had and asked him if he lived in the house. He said no, he was just doing some work, restoring the house as it needed a lot doing to it and he specialised in restoring grade I and II listed buildings.
The man was so friendly and a mine of information, telling me some people still lived in the houses, but most were used for the school which sit adjacent to the cathedral. He also pointed out one house which still had some of the old original tiles on the roof, apparently they would have all been like that at some point but of course most have had to be replaced over time.
My mum and I were both very weary by the time our sightseeing had come to an end and we headed back to the hotel for a refreshing lime and soda! Then it was back up to the sweltering room for a little rest before getting ready for dinner
Another G&T was had before dinner (a Mombasa pink gin for me! Very nice with hints of strawberries!) sitting out on the terrace overlooking the cathedral. It was so warm and the sun was still shining onto the cathedral facade.
After dinner I took myself off for a little walk to watch the sunset on the cathedral. We had been watching it out of the lounge window and the western face of the cathedral was catching the sun as it started to descend, turning the stone a deep caramel. It was mesmerizing.
There weren’t many people around and I had a slow stroll through the cathedral green, taking a few last pictures and then back through the marketplace.
It really was a very quiet and peaceful place. Of course the weather helped a lot, but it was lovely to be somewhere that wasn’t overrun with crowds. I could even get a picture of the cathedral without anyone in front of it!!
A really lovely few days with my mum and a perfect, relaxing destination for a mini break.