Vicars' Close, Wells
Cathedral Green
Somerset BA5 2UE


In medieval times the Masses were sung by a specialist group of men called the Vicar’s Chorale. How then did this lead to the building of the 'Vicars' Close'?
The story is that when Bishop Ralph of Shrewsbury became Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1329 he found that the members of the Vicars' Chorale were not behaving very well. It was said that they were causing trouble in the town and that their behavior was scandalous with womanizing, fighting and stealing.
Bishop Ralph formed the Chorale into a College and built the Vicars' Close to house and protect them.
He provided a communal place for them to eat (the Vicars' Hall) and subsequently the Chain Bridge was built so that the Chorale could enter Wells Cathedral beside the steps to the Chapter House.
Whatever the true reason for building the Vicars' Close it certainly had the effect of keeping the Chorale isolated from the townspeople.
The oldest complete street
The Vicars' Close is still paved with its medieval cobbles and is renowned for its Gothic architecture. It is unique in that it is the oldest complete street of 14th century houses in Europe.
The taller than average chimneys built in 1470 were the idea of Bishop Bekynton (1443-65). They were to carry the smoke up and away from the Close to make sure that the men’s voices were not spoilt by the fumes.
The Close still houses church clergy and students of theology.
Accommodation - Search & Book through Lastminute.com here:   External Link
One cottage in the Close is available for short term hire
However it is possible for visitors and tourists to also stay on a self catering basis in one of the cottages in the Close - No 14.
For information on the rental of the cottage
Website   Wells Cathedral - Cottage No 14 Hire    External Link

Getting There
Refer to the Wells page in this website.
Google Maps - Vicar's Close Wells


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