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Wells Cathedral


Wells Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral in Wells, Somerset. Built from around 1175 to replace an earlier church on the site since 705, it is moderately sized for an English cathedral. Its broad west front and large central tower are dominant features.[ It has been called "unquestionably one of the most beautiful" and "most poetic" of English cathedrals.



1. The West Front.

Completed c1240, the West Front holds one of the largest galleries of medieval sculpture in the world. It is an illustration in stone of the Christian faith; starting in the lower niches with biblical scenes, it rises through kings, bishops, and orders of angels to the twelve apostles with Christ overall.




Entrance (13) adjacent to the Cloisters.


2. The Scissor Arches

Often mistaken as modern, these arches were a medieval solution (1338-48) to sinking tower foundations



The scissor arches are almost Gaudi-esque


3. The Astronomical Clock

One of the oldest medieval clock faces in the world (c1390). On the quarter hour, jousting knights go round in tournament while Jack Blandiver (right) chimes the bells.

Dating from about 1392, this is the second oldest working mechanical clock in the world, and the oldest with a clock face.

The hour is marked by a large gold sun pointer against the outer diameter of Roman numerals. It is a 24-hour clock, and in keeping with the Medieval view of the Universe, the Sun goes around the Earth against a fixed sphere of stars. Within the second circle, the minute hand is a smaller star pointer. This is a seventeenth century addition to the clock. The innermost ring shows the number of days since the last new moon, indicated by a crescent moon pointer. In the disc, the phase of the Moon can be seen. It is entirely blue for a new moon and entirely gold for a full moon.

Every quarter hour, the jousting knights gallop around the turret above the clock face. The same one has been knocked down for over 600 years! Above and to the right, the large figure of Jack Blandiver kicks the quarter bells with his heels and strikes the hour bell with the hammer he holds.

The Lord of Time and Eternity

Below the clock is the figure of Christus Redemptor. (Christ the Redeemer) carved from Yew by E. J. Clack in 1956. The figure shows Christ in three forms, as crucified, risen from the dead and ascending to heaven. He stretches out his arms of love for the whole world.






4. The Chapter House

Well-worn steps lead to this beautiful octagonal chamber (completed 1306) where clergy met to transact Cathedral business. it is still used on formal occasions.

In the early life of the Cathedral the Governing body met in the Chapter House daily to discuss Cathedral business. During the COVID pandemic it was used on several occasions as it permitted greater distance between participants than other rooms.

The brass plates over each stall show the place of each "prebend" - a farm or estate from which income was derived to pay for the various "Prebendaries" - the priests who constituted the Chapter and other honorary positions. Today, the estates are no longer owned by the Cathedral but the honorific titles remain.

The windows were once stained glass and were described in 1634 as "scenes from the History of the Bible." They are believed to have been smashed by Cromwell's soldiers.

The roof is technically known as a tierceron vault. Thirty-two ribs or tiercerons spring from the central shaft. This is not a fan vault, but fan vaulting was developed from it.

The coat of arms over the Bishop's stall is that of James I.





5. Quire & Cathedra




6. The Jesse Window

The crowning glory of the Cathedral's collection of medieval stained glass, the Jesse Window (c1340) sets out the family tree of Jesus Christ.





7. The Lady Chapel

Much of the Lady Chapel glass is a brilliant kaleidoscope of 14th century fragments from windows which were deliberately smashed in the 16th or 17th century.






8. The Saxon Font

Brought in from the earliest Saxon church where the Cloisters now stand, it is at least 1000 years old and is still in use.




Looking towards the entrance

St Katherine's Chapel

Dedicated to Justice and Peace with
an Amnesty candle burning everyday.

One of the many "Stations of The Cross"





The Swan