July 4 – A Trip to Wells Cathedral

And a Visit to Mells on the Return Trip

Hello from 1066  Medieval Mosaic

We finally got to Wells today and found an excellent free 2-hour park right beside the cathedral. We spent nearly the whole time in the cathedral taking in all the wonderful history. The Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew or Wells Cathedral, is an Anglican cathedral in Wells, Somerset. The cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Bath and Wells. It contains the bishop’s throne (cathedra). It was built between 1175 and 1490, replacing an earlier church built on the same site in 705. With its broad west front and large central tower, the cathedral’s architecture is Early English Gothic style. It is a grade 1 listed building, and so fantastic. The photos say it all. Wonderful stained glass windows, architecture, statues, corbels, capitals, quoir, altars, tombs, monumental brasses and the chained library. One of the special parts of the cathedral is the astronomical clock from about 1325 and it is believed to be the work of Peter Lightfoot, a monk of Glastonbury. Its mechanism, dated to between 1386 and 1392, was replaced in the 19th century, and the original mechanism moved to the Science Museum in London, where it continues to operate. It is the second-oldest surviving clock in England, after the Salisbury cathedral clock. It strikes rather elaborately every hour and every hour people stand and wait for it to strike. Afterwards, one of the clergies greets the crowd and says a short prayer for the world. We were there when the clock struck 12.

Giso was Bishop of Wells from 1060 to 1088. A native of Lorraine, Giso came to England as a chaplain to King Edward the Confessor. After the Norman Conquest, Gisa took part in the consecration of Lanfranc, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, and attended Lanfranc’s church councils. His tomb in Wells Cathedral was opened in the 20th century and a cross was discovered in his tomb.

The chained library is fantastic and we talked for a long time to the librarian as Mike is searching for the ‘Ecclesiastical History of England and Normandy’ by Odericus Vitalis. They didn’t have it. The Chained Library at Wells Cathedral houses books published before 1800. These were collected by the canons in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries and reflects their wide-ranging intellectual interests. The core of the collection of some 2,800 volumes is theology, but science, medicine, history, exploration and languages are also well-represented. There are some good examples of manuscript books but the medieval contents of the Library were lost at the time of the Reformation.

We did a church micro in Wells at St Cuthberts Church which had an amazing coloured angel roof and a beautifully carved pulpit and then several more during our trip back to Frome. We visited St Michael’s in Dinder, two churches in Croscombe, All Saints in Downhead, St Giles in Leigh-on-Mendip and Mells.

Mells is a lovely village but we could not find the church micro here so we did a cache named ‘Little Jack Horner’ instead as it still required you to visit the church yard. The church had a lovely reredos, a carved wooden screen, a tomb with Edward Horner on horseback, a really long tomb for Mary Horner and a lovely St Francis of Assisi stained glass window. Mells can trace its history from the Mesolithic flint workshops (ca. 6,000 BC) found on the down to the north of the village, and the Neolithic (ca 2,000 BC) fortresses that guard the entrances of its valleys.

In the evening we walked from our Airbnb down the road to the Chinese restaurant and had a lovely meal there. On our way home last night we had jokingly looked behind a street sign outside the Methodist church to look for a geocache, as that is a popular hiding place. We couldn’t believe it when we actually found a cache but we did not know which cache it belonged to. Tonight we brought our GPS with us and made the find official.