Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Wells Cathedral (Wells)

The cathedral of St. Andrew at Wells is one of the most magnificent in England, in spite of the fact that this Somerset market town is one of the smallest cathedral cities in the country.

The diocese, known for centuries as Bath and Wells, was originally founded in 909. Bath Abbey became the cathedral in 1090, but the see returned to Wells in 1218.

It is the first Gothic cathedral in England, having been built between the mid 12th century and mid 13th century, under the auspices of Bishop Reginald de Bohun. All traces of the earlier Saxon building have disappeared.

The West Front, created under Bishop Jocelin Trotman, is breathtaking, with its seven tiers of carved figures. There were originally 386 of these, including the twelve Apostles, the resurrection of the dead, bishops, kings and Biblical characters, and over the doorway the Coronation of the Virgin. A few have been destroyed over the centuries, but the overall impression is fantastic.

There is also an extraordinary arrangement of holes in the West Front, to allow the sound of the choir to be heard around the town.

Wells Cathedral has a superb retro choir and Lady Chapel, and one of the most remarked-on features is at the crossing, where the “scissor arches” keep the roof up. There is also a remarkable chapter house up a flight of stone steps, and a 14th century astronomical clock.

The tomb of Bishop Bytton, who died in 1274, was a place of pilgrimage for those suffering from toothache.

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