A Palace Fit for a Bishop in the English City of Wells

A Palace Fit for a Bishop in the English City of Wells, Wells, England (B)

The City of Wells in Somerset, England is named for its wells that bubble up from an underground river fed by the rain water that seeps through the rocks of the nearby Mendip Hills. In Saxon times the presence of this water led people to believe that Wells was a sacred place and during this period the first church was built here. The main wells, the wells of Saint Andrew, are inside the grounds of the Bishop’s Palace and this was where I started my visit. I arrived just in time to join the tour of the grounds (included in the price of the entrance fee). is the only cathedral town in the UK where the bishop still lives in the Bishop’s Palace. But he only occupies a part of the building, three other families live there including the head gardener who is in charge of the sluice gates that control the water that runs through the grounds and into the town via the fountain in Market Place.

Our tour started in the first courtyard of the palace, just inside the main entrance, known as the Bishop’s Eye Gateway. This gate was built by Bishop Bekynton (1443 – 1465) as an entrance to the Bishop’s Palace from the Market Place – an amenity that Bekynton gave to the people of Wells in 1451. The first courtyard is known as the Bishop’s Eye because from here the Bishop could keep an eye on the townsfolk. This entrance is the only one that still has its original gates. The Gatehouse was designed to house the mechanism for raising and lowering a drawbridge and portcullis. There were guardrooms on either side of the entrance. Above the entrance there are holes in the vault through which boiling oil could be poured on unwelcome visitors. The drawbridge was last raised in 1831 when news came that the Bishop of Bristol’s Palace had been burnt to the ground during riots about electoral reform. Today the gatehouse is the home of the Operations Manager of the Bishop’s Palace. ...... (follow the instructions below for accessing the rest of this article).
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Guide Name: A Palace Fit for a Bishop in the English City of Wells
Guide Location: England » Wells
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (B))
Author: Valery Collins
Read it on Author's Website: https://www.experiencedtraveller.com/journal/2018-04-22-a-palace-fit-for-a-bishop-in-the-english-city-of-wells
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Bishop’s Palace
  • Market Place
  • Bishop’s Eye Gateway
  • Picturesque Garden
  • Bishop’s Table
  • The Cross
  • Garden of Reflection