The Cathedral and the City of Wells, England

England, Wells Guide (B): The Cathedral and the City of Wells, England

Wednesday is market day in the City of Wells in Somerset, England. When I arrived in Market Place it was overflowing with stalls as it has done every week on Wednesdays and Saturdays for past 800 years. This market is part of the heritage of Wells and on a Wednesday it includes a Farmers Market. Wells also has a Charter granted by King John in 1201 to hold five Charter Fairs every year. These used to last for several days and involved feasting and entertainment in the evenings and trading in the market during the day. Today only two Charter Fairs are held, one in May and one in November but recently they have been the subject of some controversy. On my way through the market I met Len Sweales, the city’s town crier. I listened to him announcing the market with a few merry quips about the various stalls. 

At the entrance to Market Place is the market cross with fountain. This fountain was built at the end of the eighteenth century to replace the conduit built by Bishop Beckynton that had recently been demolished. This was the first stop on the Heritage Walk I had joined that morning. Siobhan, our guide, brought back to life the days when the bishops ruled the town. Bishop Beckynton was a generous benefactor and the fountain in the market cross was both an example of his generosity and the importance of water to Wells. There has been a flow of water into the marketplace since the fifteenth century when it was provided by Bishop Beckynton. Prior to this most people drank cider. The gift of water from the Bishop to the people of the town was very symbolic. In return they had to promise to undertake an annual pilgrimage to his grave to pray for his soul. Whereas in the past people would have collected fresh drinking water from the fountain today is just an attraction. The high lead content in the water from the wells means it is not suitable for drinking the supply of domestic water comes from nearby Cheddar Gorge.  ...... (follow the instructions below for accessing the rest of this article).
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Sights Map

Guide Name: The Cathedral and the City of Wells, England
Guide Location: England » Wells
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (B))
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Market Place   Penniless Porch   Cathedral Green   Chain Gate   Wells and Mendip Museum   Brown’s Gate   Swan Hotel   Somerset Guild of Craftsmen   Church of Saint Cuthbert   Bishop’s Palace   Wells Recreation Ground   The Cross  
Author: Valery Collins
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