Somerset BA5 2UE
The Jewel of Somerset, nestling at the foot of the Mendip Hills is the City of Wells, England’s smallest city.
Wells is famous for its magnificent Wells Cathedral, The Bishop's Palace, the Parish Church of St Cuthbert and of course the Vicars' Close which is said to be Europe’s oldest complete street.
Wells is popular Film & TV location
A truly beautiful experience is to take an evening stroll past these floodlit historic buildings. As you wander around some of the town may seem familiar. Wells is a popular film and TV location, it was the sleepy village of Sandford in the comedy film ‘Hot Fuzz’.
Wells is close to other popular tourist towns and attractions including Glastonbury, Cheddar Gorge & Caves, and Wookey Hole Caves. For those interested in restored heritage railways, about five miles (8 km) east of Wells on the A371 is the town of Shepton Mallet. Just a little further (3 miles - 4.8 km) on the A361 is The East Somerset Railway.
Wells settled in pre-historic times
The lovely small town of Wells got its name from the perpetual springs located in the Bishop’s Palace gardens. These springs attracted settlement by Pre-historic man and the Romans before the Anglo-Saxons built their first church on the site close to St Andrew’s Well.
Recent archaeological digs have revealed that these springs were used for a number of tasks including driving mills, flushing drains and for drinking water. Drinking water was supplied to the cathedral from the St Andrew well.
Famous Outdoor Markets
As well as its famous buildings, Wells is known for its Wednesday and Saturday outdoor markets. These markets provide an excellent opportunity for the visitor to sample the local produce and crafts. On sale is everything from fruit, vegetables and plants to pottery, books, paintings and jewellery.
The ancient market place provides the link between ecclesiastical Wells and commercial Wells just as it did in medieval times. The entrance to the Cathedral Green through Penniless Porch earned its name from the beggars who congregated there. Nowadays you are more likely to be greeted by music buskers.
The Bishop's Eye
Also at this end of the market place is the imposing gatehouse into the Bishop's Palace Wells called the Bishop’s Eye. Once it had a wooden drawbridge which could be pulled up to keep any rebellious townspeople away from the clergy.
Set in the pavement near Penniless Porch is a brass plaque to Mary Bignal Rand. This native of Wells was the first British female athlete to win an Olympic Gold medal. In 1964 she set a new long jump world record by leaping over 22 feet. The length of the jump is marked in brass on the pavement so you can have a try and see how hard it was.
Plan Your Visit
For further information, go to Web: Wells Somerset/ Travel Info External Link
- By Car from London
Take the M4 from London and either:
- Take the M5 south at Junction 20. Pass the exit to Weston-Super-Mare and exit at Junction 23. Take the A39 to Glastonbury and then the A39 north to Wells. This route may be a little longer but far easier to follow, or
- Take the A46 south at Junction 18 and follow the A4 to Bath. When the A4 intersects with the A367 take the A367 south and follow this road towards Shepton Mallet. At Shepton Mallet take the A371 west to Wells.
- Car Parking
Available in the Wells city centre car parks. The Market Place car park has a 1 hour maximum time limit. This car park is not available on market days (Wednesdays or Saturdays).
- By Rail from London Paddington Station
There is a weekday’s hourly First Great Western train from London Paddington to Bristol Parkway Station. Rail travel time is approx 1 hour 30 minutes. For timetable, seat availability and tickets, go to Web: National Rail Enquiries External Link
Then take First Group bus service to Wells. Takes about 1 hour. Go to Web: First Group Timetable External Link
- By Coach
National Express from Victoria Coach Station to Bristol – takes about 2½ hours. There is then 30 minutes wait for the service to Wells (operated by First Group Buses) – takes about 1 hour. Web: First Group Timetable External Link
Google Maps - Wells