If you are in the Mendips region of Somerset you really shouldn’t miss visiting the wonderful Wells Cathedral nor the historic town of Glastonbury, possibly the quirkiest town in England. Steeped in history, myth and the smell of incense, it may not be for everybody.
However, do not let that put you off visiting the beautiful site of Glastonbury Abbey. Since Medieval times, the abbey has held legendary status as the earliest Christian foundation in Britain linked to Joseph of Arimathea and the burial place of King Arthur.
It’s a peaceful place – 36 acres of grounds to explore. Plenty of benches to sit and relax and take in the atmosphere. The remains of the abbey to walk around, which must have been enormous in its day. A medieval herb garden. Views of the Glastonbury Tor.
The abbey was built on the myth that followers of Christ settled here within the 1st century CE and built ‘The Old Church’. Abbot Dunstan remodelled and expanded the abbey and by the time of the coming of the Normans, the abbey was the wealthiest in England.
Our visit to Wells last May would not have been complete without a visit to the cathedral there. One of the many that we have not visited previously and a main reason for choosing to stay in England’s smallest city. Not that either of us is remotely religious, but we can’t help admire the craftsmanship that goes into these beautiful buildings, and even I can appreciate the peacefulness that can be found inside.
Master mason William Joy proposed the Scissor Arches (below) to prevent the collapse of a tower after a lead covered wooden spire was added in 1313. This proved to be too heavy for the foundations. Put in place between 1338 and 1348, they still stand today and are one of the most magnificent architectural features of Wells Cathedral.
The Scissor Arches
The Scissor Arches
The Scissor Arches
The ‘new’ church which was to become the cathedral of the Bishop of Bath & Wells was the first to be built in the Early English Gothic style, during 1175 – c. 1250. It was built on a new site to the north of an old minster church. Over the following three hundred years there was extension and revision, in the Decorated and Perpendicular styles in turn, as architectural fashion dictated.
corbel of the dragon-slaying monk in the chapter house stair.
keep this way…
Clock and figure of Christ risen from the dead is carved in yew by E J Clack and placed here in 1956.
The famous Wells clock is considered to be the second oldest clock mechanism in Britain, and probably in the world, to survive in original condition and still in use. The original works were made about 1390 and the clock face is the oldest surviving original of its kind anywhere. When the clock strikes every quarter, jousting knights rush round above the clock and the Quarter Jack bangs the quarter hours with his heels.
With its intricately painted interior dial depicting the Earth surrounded by the sun, moon and stars, it’s unique in showing a geocentric worldview – when the clock was created in 1390, most people still believed that the Earth was at the centre of the Universe.
The Blue House, next to the town bridge, is Grade 1 listed; it was formerly the Bluecoat School and Almshouses, named after the colour of the school uniforms. Built in 1726 at a cost of £1,401 8s 9d, it replaced an almshouse dating from 1461 and rebuilt in 1621. The Blue House provided a home for twenty widows and schooling for twenty boys.
The front of the building is adorned by two statues, of a man and a woman, indicating the building’s dual purpose. The building’s role as a school came to an end in 1921 and it now provides studio and one-bedroom flats for seventeen elderly residents. Wikipedia
The Italianate building was built as a Literary and Scientific Institute in 1865 for John Sinkins. The architect was J Hine and it was built by the company Carr and Pickford. It is a Grade II listed building. It houses a collection of local history and has a particular important collection of artefacts from the bronze foundry of J.W.Singer. A Cockey lamp is on show, with its art nouveau style; more than 60 can still be seen around the town. (Edward Cockey (1781–1860) was an industrial entrepreneur in Frome, Somerset, England, descended from a local family of metalworkers.) Wikipedia
The Maws Craft Centre and Maws Creative Spaces are a collection of art, craft and design studios situated in the picturesque Ironbridge Gorge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, 1.5 miles from the historic Iron Bridge. Housed in the refurbished Victorian tile factory of Maw & Co, once the world’s largest tile manufacturer. The building now comprises independently run studios – a mix of artists, designers & makers, galleries, a holistic therapist, a plant shop, the Tile Press café a craft supplies shop, the Gorge Parish Council office, IT consultants and media companies.