Bishop's Palace, Wells

Bishop's Palace, Wells

Infobox Historic building

caption=Croquet on the lawn of The Bishops Palace
name=Bishop's Palace
client=Jocelin of Wells
The Bishop's Palace, Wells, Somerset, England, is adjacent to Wells Cathedral and has been the home of the Bishops of the Diocese of Bath and Wells for 800 years.

Part of the buildings are still used as a residence by the current bishop, however much of the palace is now used for public functions.

It has been designated by English Heritage as a grade I listed building.cite web | title=The Bishop's Palace and Bishop's House | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-11-10]


The building was begun around 1210 by Bishop Jocelin of Wells but principally dates from 1230. It was restored, divided and the upper storey added by Benjamin Ferrey between 1846 and 1854. The north wing (now the Bishop's residence) was added in the 15th century by Bishop Beckington, with further modifications in the 18th century, and in 1810 by Bishop Beadon. [cite web |url='s_Palace,_Wells |title=Pictures of Bishop's Palace, Wells |accessdate=2007-11-10 |format= |work=Pictures of England ]

The chapel was built between 1275 and 1292 for Bishop Robert Burnell. [cite web | title=The Bishop's Chapel | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-11-10]

The gatehouse has a bridge over the moat and dates from 1341. [cite web | title=Gatehouse and boundary wall with bridge over moat | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-11-10]

Bishop Burnell's Great Hall [cite web | title=Bishop Burnell's Great Hall | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-11-10] is now in ruins after a Bishop in the 1550s sold the lead from the roofs. [cite web |url= |title=Bishop's Palace Wells |accessdate=2007-11-10 |format= |work=eCastles]

The main palace is open to the public, including the chapel and a long gallery. There is a restaurant in the medieval undercroft.

One of the two surviving Glastonbury chairs may be seen, together with other early furniture.


There are convert|14|acre|ha|1 of gardens including St. Andrew's Spring from which the city takes its name. The Well House was built in 1451, for Bishop Thomas Beckington. [cite web | title=The Well House, about 35 metres north of the Bishop's Palace | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-11-10]

Much of the existing landscaping on the South Lawn was carried out by Bishop George Henry Law in the mid-19th century. In the outer garden is an arboretum, planted in 1977 by Bishop John Bickersteth to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. [cite web |url= |title=The Gardens |accessdate=2007-11-10 |format= |work=Bishop's Palace and Gardens ]

The Mute Swans in the moat at the Bishops Palace have for centuries been trained to ring bells via strings attached to them to beg for food. Two swans which were given to the bishop by Queen Elizabeth II in 2006, are still able to ring for lunch. [cite news |url= |title=Bishop receives Royal swan gift |accessdate=2007-11-10 | date= 19 September 2006 |publisher= BBC News]

Every August bank holiday the moat is used for the "Wells Moat Boat Race", a charity raft race organised by Wells Lions Club and Air Training Corps. In 2007, the Bishop entered a raft into the race. [cite web | url= | publisher = BBC | title= BBC Bus in Somerset | accessdate= 2008-02-12]

In the media

The palace was used as a location for some of the scenes in the film "Hot Fuzz". [cite web |url= |title=Film locations for Hot Fuzz |accessdate=2007-11-10 |format= |work=Worldwdie guide to movie locations ]


External links

* [ Palace and Gardens Web Site]
* [ 360 degree panaorama from the BBC]
* [ images of Swans ringing the bell]

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