Wells is the smallest city in England and it really proves the point that good things come in small packages - it’s beautiful! Wells is a beautiful historic city in Somerset, which is perfect for a rather relaxing and intimate getaway.
Immerse yourself in Wells and visit the city's most iconic landmarks and locations.
Conceived by Reginald Fitz Jocelin, a medieval bishop of Bath, and dedicated to St Andrew the apostle, Wells Cathedral has been called ‘one of the most poetic English cathedrals’. It remains the seat of the bishop of Bath and Wells today and contains one of the most substantial collections of medieval stained glass in England. We highly recommend booking a tour, so you can take in the cathedral’s magnificence.
Home to the Bishops of the Diocese of Bath and Wells for 800 years, this Grade 1 listed building was started around 1210 by Bishops Jocelin of Wells and Reginald Fitz Jocelin. The chapel and great hall were later added by Bishop Robert Burnell between 1275 and 1292 and the walls, gatehouse and moat were added in the 14th century by Bishop Ralph of Shrewsbury. The final addition of note was the Bishops House added in the 15th century by Bishop Thomas Beckington. Whilst parts of the buildings are still used as a residence by the current bishop, much of the palace is now used for public functions and as a tourist attraction. We do recommend some time for the gardens here, because they are incredibly beautiful and a calming space to sit.
Vicars' Close is claimed to be the oldest purely residential street with original buildings surviving intact in Europe. It consists of numerous Grade I listed buildings, comprising 27 residences (originally 44), built in the 14th and 15th centuries for Bishop Ralph of Shrewsbury, a chapel and library at the north end, and a hall at the south end, over an arched gate. It is connected at its southern end to the cathedral by way of a walkway over Chain Gate. The Close is about 460 feet (140 m) long, and paved with setts. The Vicars' Hall was completed in 1348 and included a communal dining room, administrative offices and treasury of the Vicars Choral.
The centre of Wells has barely changed in several hundred years, meaning the original moat walk is still possible today. William Simes made a map in 1735 for a short walking tour around the centre of Wells. Starting from the marketplace, it takes in the Bishop's Palace, Tithe Barn, Vicars' Close, and the Cathedral. There is a PDF of the moat walk you can download and take with you, which has been reproduced by the Wells Somerset website. This will make for a lovely afternoon meander, before you stop for afternoon tea.
Overlooking the city, high on the hill is the wonderful Milton Lodge Gardens. The terraced garden, which was laid out in the early 20th century, is listed as Grade II on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special historic interest in England. Built by Aaron Foster in 1790 the house and gardens descended in his family until it passed, by marriage, into the ownership of the Tudway family in the mid-19th century. The garden was laid out in 1903 by Captain Croker Ives Partridge of the Alfred Parsons garden design company for Charles Tudway and are now known for their impressive collection of roses and the serene arboretum. We highly recommend a guided private group tour of the gardens to really experience the beauty of nature around you.