What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
Wells and Its Cathedral
=How to get there.=–Train from Paddington. Great Western Railway. =Nearest Station.=–Wells. =Distance from London.=–120-3/4 miles. =Average Time.=–Varies between 3-3/4 to 5-3/4 hours.
=Fares.=–Via Chippenham and Westbury.
1st 2nd 3rd Single 20s. 0d. 12s. 6d. 10s. 0-1/2d. Return 35s. 2d. 22s. 0d. 20s. 0d.
Single 24s. 8d. 15s. 6d. 12s. 4d. Return 41s. 0d. 27s. 0d. 24s. 8d.
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–"Swan Hotel,” “Mitre Hotel," “Star Hotel,” etc. =Alternative Route.=–Train from Waterloo. L. and S.W. Railway.
Wells is essentially an ecclesiastical town. It has no history of its own, no great family has ever lived there, and it has no manufactures,–it has simply grown up round the cathedral. For these reasons the quiet little Somersetshire town has preserved much of its antiquity and fascination. The presence of the natural wells, which still are to be found in the gardens of the Bishop’s Palace, probably induced King Ina in 704 to found a college of secular canons. Here a monastery grew, and subsequently became a bishop’s see. John de Villula transferred his seat to Bath in (_circa_) 1092, and in 1139 the title was altered to Bishop of Bath and Wells. Wells is one of the smallest of the English cathedrals, and is in many ways the most beautiful. The clear space in front emphasises the glorious way in which the three massive towers harmonise with the ruins of the Bishop’s Palace, the remains of the Vicar’s Close, and the chapter-house. The present building was commenced in 1121, but Bishop Joceline of Wells (1206-1242) rebuilt it from the middle of the choir to the west end. The Early English work shows considerable differences to that in Salisbury and Ely Cathedrals, being carried out by a local school of masons, who show considerable originality in design. The glory of Wells is centred in its west front. The deep buttresses on the towers cast shadows which only serve to show up the marvellous sculptured figures of saints and kings, which may represent a Te Deum in stone. The inside of the cathedral is remarkable for the inverted arches which were put in the chancel to support the towers. Bishop Beckington built the three arches to the close.
A charge of 6d. is made for admission to the choir of the cathedral.
[Illustration: F. Frith & Co. WELLS CATHEDRAL.
Commenced in 1121, but chiefly rebuilt between 1206 and 1242. It is one of the smallest cathedrals in England.]