Sunday, 30 October 2011

Wells

Wells: market square, with market in full swing
Last week we were in Scotland to visit Niall's family and have a quick break. As we took the Caen [Ouistreham] to Portsmouth ferry there was a fair bit of driving up and back. Previously, we found that driving up was fine but for some reason the ferry back was more tiring. Perhaps it's the fact that one has an hour's less sleep and fewer options for breakfast once off the ferry in France. 

chantry chapel & ladies having a gossip!
As a result we decided not to drive down to Portsmouth in one day. We stopped just outside Gloucester and this meant we had a whole day to potter around before boarding the ferry. It doesn't leave Portsmouth until 10:45pm. It was almost like an extra mini-holiday; allowing us to explore a little bit of the West Country--Somerset & Dorset.

scissor arches
Our first stop having cut across country from Gloucester was Wells. We knew Wells having visited it before. It isn't the easiest place to get to and consquently - we think - retains its appeal. Officially it is a city, but it's really only the size of a small market town. It was first settled because of the springs: 'wells'  dedicated to St Andrew and the city's arms are a Saltire cross - yes there is a scottish link here! The waters still run in runnels at either side of the streets. As we walked up to the market square and the cathedral we saw several small wellie-clad kiddies were having a great time in the runnels splashing the water around. 

The Bishops of Bath & Wells [when not baby eating!! Blackadder fans take note] were an enthusiastic group of builders and there is plenty of medieval archtecture -- both religious and vernacular -- to keep people like us very happy!

'quarter jack'
Wells' Clock
The Cathedral is superb -- originally begun in 1175 it is built in the Gothic style. The famous scissors arches are a clever early 14th century solution to stabilising the tower and preventing it from sinking. Due to the very high water table and shallow foundations it needed to be shored up. Wells also houses a very early clock [about 1390] in the north transept. It gathers quite a crowd as every quarter hour it stikes and knights come out and joust with each other. At the same time the 'quarter jack', who sits in a niche above and to the right of the clock proper, strikes the bell with his feet.  The Jesse tree window was shrouded due to ongoing restoration work but some angels in the East window caught our eye.
trumpeting angel
For more info on Wells see: http://www.wellscathedral.org.uk/

6 comments:

SP said...

Smashing photos!

SP

Niall & Antoinette said...

@SP - Thanks! Intermittent sunshine helped :-)

Perpetua said...

Thanks for this lovely mini-tour of Wells. It's ages since I've been there and this makes me want to go back again soon.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Perpetua - firstly welcome! Hope you enjoy reading our posts.:-)

Wells is a super place. We hadn't been for a number of years so it was good to go back if only for a flying visit.

Jean said...

Lovely photos. Yet another part of the Uk that we have not visited.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@ Jean - Worth it as roads are pretty quiet down there; even though it was 1/2 term week -- countryside is great too.