Bristol 2011 – Day 5

Wednesday, September 7th 2011

Today is my birthday and so we want to go somewhere that will provide us with a special day out. We hope that Wells will fulfil that hope.

Wells Market
Wells Market
Centuries old and going strong

We started our explorations at the market. It is an ancient market and some of its valuable features, such as a water conduit, were provided by Bishop Thomas Bekynton in 1451.

The Fountain
The Fountain
Replacing the original one donated by
Bishop Bekynton

The conduit, a supply of clean water, which would have been very valuable in the 16th century, also feeds a fountain. The original was part of the works provided by Bishop Bekynton but was demolished in 1797 and replaced by this one, built by the City Corporation.

Town Crier
Town Crier
First attract your audience by ringing the bell…

We met this enthusiastic gentleman, holder of the ancient office of Town Crier. Tigger had a chat with him and he explained that he loved the job.

Town Crier
Town Crier
Then speak speak up loud and clear

Unfortunately, there is not enough work for a full-time appointment so the Crier has to moonlight with another, more mundane job. He performs this traditional role with gusto and evident enjoyment. Long may he continue to do so.

Penniless Porch
Penniless Porch
Leading to Cathedral Green

In one corner of the Market Place stands this archway. Named Penniless Porch because of the beggars who used to come here to beg for alms, it leads to Cathedral Green.

Cathedral Green
Cathedral Green
A broad open space in front of the Cathedral

Cathedral Green, as the name suggests, is a broad green space in front of the Cathedral. It is limited on one side by the Cathedral and on the other by the road and the other buildings within the Cathedral precinct.

Wells Cathedral
Wells Cathedral
The first in England in the then new Gothic style

Wells Cathedral was begun in the late 1100s in the then new and revolutionary Gothic style imported from France. The first building phase took 80 years but then additions were made. We did not visit the inside of the Cathedral on this trip.

The Old Deanery
The Old Deanery
Now serves as offices for the Dioceses of Bath and Wells

The precinct is enclosed by walls and buildings such as the Old Deanery. originally built in the 12th century but reworked in the 15th and 17th. Today is provides office space for church administration.

Vicars' Close
Vicars’ Close
The only completely medieval street in England

Incorporated too is this charming medieval street now known as Vicars’ Close. It was founded in 1348 so that the male choristers could live communally but each have his own house. The front gardens were added in the 15th century.

The Crown
The Crown
Associated with William Penn

We returned again to the Market Place to resume our wanderings and here found the inn called The Crown at Wells. This 15th century inn is famed for its connection with William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania. Having become a Quaker, Penn found his religious views to be at variance with the authorities. In 1685 he preached to a large crowd from a window of the Crown and was arrested but later released.

Beah
Beah
Not vegetarian but offers vegetarian dishes

The sky, which had been making threatening gestures, began to rain on us, so we thought to take shelter by having lunch. This restaurant, called Beah, happened to be nearby and to offer several vegetarian choices. We enjoyed a good lunch there.

The City Arms
The City Arms
Once better known as the City Jail

On resuming our exploration, we passed by this pink building. The shape suggests that it is quite old, despite the rather fanciful colour applied to it. Today it is a pub called the City Arms but a board on the side tells us that it was once the City Jail, dating from1549, and that some of its ancient structure remains, “including original barred windows locks and chains and a solitary cell”.

St Cuthbert's
St Cuthbert’s
The church dates from the 15th century

We came to St Cuthbert’s Church which was first built in the 15th century and went into the grounds for a look.

Wells Old Almshouses
Wells Old Almshouses
This set is Still’s almshouses of 1615

At the back of the church, continuous with the the churchyard, are some very pretty almshouses. I think there are three sets here, of which the façade shown belongs to those known as Still’s, founded in 1615.

Llewellyn's and Charles' Almshouses
Llewellyn’s and Charles’ Almshouses
Founded 1614 but the buildings date from 1887

At the edge of church property, on Priest Row, we found the second set of almshouses, called the Llewellyn’s and Charles’ Almshouses. According to an inscription on the gate, they were founded in 1614 (the board nearby says 1636) while these houses were built in 1887.

Colourful glass panels
Colourful glass panels
Cheesy name but nice glass

We passed the sweet shop which, despite its cheesy faux-Old English (or should that be “Olde-Englisshe”?) name, has some pretty glass panels and a stylish “73”, and arrived at Priory Road.

This building stands...
This building stands…
…on the corner of Priory Road and St John Street

You would think that a road called Priory Road would have been there for centuries, especially as there was indeed a priory nearby. In fact, the road was not built until 1840 as a new road into the town. Before then, St John Street performed that role and that was where the Priory of the Hospital of St John the Baptist stood, reasonably enough.

Priory House
Priory House
As it appears today with medieval inclusions

The priory, comprising a prior and 10 brothers, was dedicated to the care of the poor, the sick and the disabled. In 1539, the Priory suffered the same fate as the other religious houses, being dissolved by Henry VIII. The buildings survived until 1859 and were then demolished to make way for a school. The pictured house, called the Priory, is thought to have been the house of the Prior. Though altered, it includes remains of its medieval past.

Hole in the wall
Hole in the wall
With a view of St Andrew’s Stream

Through here runs an important watercourse called St Andrew’s Stream, important in the sense that it sustained several mills. Opposite the Priory at what was known as St John’s Bridge, the brothers ran a mill. A wall prevents us viewing the stream but I attempted to take a photo through a hole in the wall. None too successfully… (Don’t say I never show you my failures!) Whether the stonework visible in the photo is a bridge or remains of the mill, I cannot say.

Pigeons
Pigeons
A whirling fly-past

We turned down Broad Street towards the town centre once more and as we did so, I caught sight of a flock of pigeons flying round and round over the rooftops as they sometimes do. Even if pigeons are our commonest bird, this group movement can be impressive, especially under today’s dramatic skies.

Sheltering from the rain
Sheltering from the rain
At least he has a cup of coffee

Further on we spied another street-dweller, this time a human one. With only a blanket for an outer garment he was sheltering from the rain in the doorway of a cafe but they had at least given him a cup of coffee.

Swan Hotel
Swan Hotel
Built before 1422

Thence to Sadler Street where the Swan Hotel is to be found. It was built before 1422, the date of the first known mention of it. It became an important coaching inn and was rebuilt in 1769 by Charles Tudway, Mayor and MP for Wells, and still seems to be going strong.

Brown's Gate
Brown’s Gate
Gives access to Cathedral Green

Sadler Street runs along the western boundary of the Cathedral precinct and includes a gateway, called Brown’s Gate, set in the mid-14th century wall. Bishop Bekynton built the gate in about 1450 and, remarkably, it continued in use for traffic until around 1970 when it was final closed to vehicles.

Framing the Cathedral
Framing the Cathedral
The gateway provides striking views

As well as affording pedestrian access to Cathedral Green, the gateway provides a decorative frame for striking views of the Cathedral.

The Avalon Club
The Avalon Club
Taking its theme from the King Arthur legend

The name of this club may suggest where we went next. Having toured Wells, we thought to take the bus to a town associated in many people’s minds with King Arthur and his Knights. I mean of course the ancient town of Glastonbury. (The Avalon is the local Rotary Club, in case you are wondering.)

Galstonbury Abbey
Galstonbury Abbey
Once one of the most powerful in England, now just a ruin

Glastonbury is known for its abbey or, rather, for the ruins of one. Founded in the 7th century and destroyed by fire in 1184, it was rebuilt and became one of the richest and most powerful in England. Its history came to an end in 1539 with the dissolution of the monasteries and the hanging, drawing and quartering of its abbot, Richard Whiting. (That Henry VIII was not a very nice man…) The ruins can be visited but were closed when we arrived so we had to content ourselves with photos over the car park wall.

Market Cross
Market Cross
This one dates from 1846

We did a quick tour of the town and saw the market cross, Victorian this one, and another cattle trough for my collection.

Cattle trough
Cattle trough
Its conventional design and lack of inscriptions makes it hard to date

The trough has no inscriptions and is of conventional design, so it’s hard to guess its age. It’s in good condition and has no wheel fenders.

Post Office
Post Office
Modest but handsome and dating from 1938

There is a modest and handsome Post Office dating from 1938 and still operating. (How long before they close it down, eh?)

Cat behind blue railings
Cat behind blue railings
Intriguing, but I know nothing about it

This cat, perched demurely behind blue railings reminded me of Freya waiting patiently (or probably not so patiently) back in London. I do not know whether it is there for decoration or has some deeper purpose.

Glastonbury Tribunal
Glastonbury Tribunal
Actually a 15th century town house

Glastonbury has a number of fine buildings of historical importance, apart from the Abbey, and this is one of them. It is called the Glastonbury Tribunal though it was in fact no such thing. It was thought to have been the Abbey’s tribunal but was really a 15th century town house. In the latter role it is still of great interest.

'Magik' and mumbo jumbo
‘Magik’ and mumbo jumbo
A town afflicted by superstitious nonsense

Glastonbury suffers from a particular affliction, that of being considered an important site for alternative religious beliefs. Whether it is ‘magik’, crystals, aromas, Tarot, fortune telling, witchcraft or any other sort of stultifying New Age nonsense, it is represented here in rows of retail outlets. Then again, I suppose it provides revenue for the town through business rates.

Glastonbury is not a big town and I think we saw most of it. The weather was still dull and threatening rain so we decided to return back to Bristol. It had been a good day out and Wells and Glastonbury had been worth visiting despite the weather, and yes, it had been a special day for my birthday.

A Crusader awaits...
A Crusader awaits…
…and welcomes you to the George &Pilgrims Hotel

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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2 Responses to Bristol 2011 – Day 5

  1. Mark Elliott says:

    Beautiful photos and an interesting text. O to be in England…

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