On the southern edge of the Mendips sits Wells, a beautiful historic, cathedral city, in Somerset. Remaining almost unspoilt by modernity, Wells has just 12,000 inhabitants, making it the smallest city you will find in the UK, which is perfect for a rather relaxing and intimate getaway.
If you have just a weekend, or you have booked one of our more local Staycation Retreats then Wells is well worth a visit. There is lots to see, giving you plenty of options for how you spend your quality time.
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As a luxury travel concierge service it is our job to help you map out the finer details of your stay and part of what we do best is to create itineraries for you and your guests. We do the heavy work so you can pack in as much, or as little as you please, from travel in your own private car to your hotel, to activities during your stay. We believe we should experience the suggestions we give you for bookings, and so we have had fun exploring Wells and we can assuredly recommend five must-see places to add into your trip.
1.Wells Cathedral - 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.
2.Bishop’s Palace - 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.
3.Moat Walk - 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.
On the outskirts;
4. Milton Lodge – 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.
A short drive away;
5. Kilver Court and Gardens – If you need a little retail therapy with your stunning garden visits, then we recommend Kilver Court and Gardens, an historic, grade II listed house in Shepton Mallet. The River Sheppey powered textile mills on the site and it later became space for a factory, the headquarters of the Showerings brewing business, and then later still the headquarters of a leather-goods manufacturer, Mulberry. Kilver Court is now used as a designer shopping outlet. The gardens are overlooked by the disused Charlton Viaduct as it crosses the River Sheppey. They were laid out in the 1880s by Ernest Jardine, the Member of Parliament for East Somerset, 1910 to 1918, for his lace workers. He used the old mill ponds as boating lakes; and built a pub and schoolhouse on the grounds. The gardens became known as Jardine’s Park and included fruit and vegetable plots which provided food for the factory workers. The current garden layout is a reproduction of a 1960s Chelsea Flower Show medal winning garden designed by George Whitelegg and includes a striking rockery and parterre.
Do not forget to bring an extra camera battery and SD card!
There will be plenty of opportunities to record your trip to Wells and Somerset, at each of the places we have listed in this article – it’s a great way to make memories with your family that will last for years. To make sure you do not miss a thing, we recommend bringing an extra battery and SD card.