Wells, the second smallest city of England in terms of its population size and geographical area, has been a city since medieval times due to the cathedral. I had been fascinated by Clare’s (Suitcases and Sandcastles) mention of the oldest complete medieval street left in England on her post on Wells city. So, I asked my sister, during my weekend stay with her, whether we could visit Wells. She decided that we would go for the Sunday Holy Communion service at Wells Cathedral.
When we arrived at the cathedral around 7.30am, the entrance was closed. Someone pointed out a door on its West Front that had been left open for those coming for the service.
At the end of the hour long service, my sister and I decided that we would meet up on the cathedral green near the entrance in a few hours as I had wanted to wander around. Since it was a Sunday, the daily cathedral tours by volunteers was not available. I asked permission to take a few photos of the Quire area from a church staff preparing for the next service. While I would have loved to explore the rest of the cathedral, especially its chained library, I did appreciate having been part of the morning service which I would not have been able to had I visited on a weekday.
What catches one’s attention as you walk into the cathedral through the west front are the Scissor arches which, according to the cathedral website, had been added in 1338, when a new spire added to the top of the tower threatened to collapse the whole structure.
The 14th century stained glass windows of the Jesse window was impressive. While the windows narrowly escaped destruction during the English civil war and was protected during the second world war, the windows have been deteriorating over time. A protective glazing has been added to the exterior of the window and conservation work undertaken to preserve the beautiful window.
The Quire area, where the morning service had been held, is one of the oldest part of the cathedral and is beautiful.
The present organ was rebuilt in the 1970s, with the original instrument having been built in mid 19th century, with pipework from late 18th century.
While I had been eager to see the famous 14th century astronomical clock at the cathedral, considered the second oldest clock mechanism in Britain, and its two famous jousting knights and Quarter Jack, I could not see it within the cathedral as I could not wander around. However, there was a clock on the exterior face of the wall, facing the Vicar’s Hall, that was connected to the same mechanism as that of the clock inside.
I walked further and came upon the Vicar’s close, the medieval street that had intrigued me.
Built to house the Vicar’s Choral, which is an all male group, it still continues to be inhabited by successive choral groups.
At the end of the close is the Vicar’s chapel and library.
Returning to the Cathedral green, I sat on one of the benches overlooking the west front and admired the cathedral while taking a break.
Have you visited Wells Cathedral? What aspect of the cathedral intrigues you?