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Even without its cathedral, Wells would be a delightful little town. With it, it becomes one of Britain’s smallest but most beautiful cities. The cathedral is the focal point of Wells, a glorious masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Dating from the 12th century, the magnificent west front facing onto the lawns, boasting some 1300 figures of saints and kings, takes one’s breath away. No visit to Wells is complete without a visit to the cathedral, the interior of which is just as spectacular as the outer façade. In the north transept is the famous astronomical Wells clock also known as the ‘jousting clock’: every fifteen minutes jousting knights appear and go around the clock in tournament and on the hour a figure in red known as Jack Blandiver hits a bell with a hammer and kicks two more with his feet.


Nearby is the wonderful Vicars Close – a row of clergyman’s cottages which are so quaint and attractive it’s difficult to believe they are real and not part of a Merchant Ivory film set! The Close claims to be the oldest continuously inhabited medieval street in Europe.


On the other side of the Cathedral and right on the Mendip Way route is the Bishops Palace, which has been the residence of the bishop of Bath and Wells since 1206. It is surrounded by a moat which, together with a drawbridge and crenelated walls, were added to the palace in the 14th century after the incumbent, Bishop Ralph, made himself none too popular with the local townsfolk over local taxes imposed by the church. On the moat are a herd of swans which are trained to ring the bell next to the drawbridge at feeding time. Across St. Andrew's Street from the Cathedral is the Wells and Mendip Museum, an absorbing place which displays the past and present life of the City of Wells and the Mendip area. The museum’s displays include a Jurassic ichthyosaurus fossil two metres long and you can also visit ‘Netherworld’ where on display is the very first piece of diving equipment designed for the exploration of flooded underground passages known as the Bicycle Respirator!


On Wednesdays and Saturdays, a vibrant market occupies the marketplace alongside the cathedral. Look here also for an unusual medieval fresh water conduit and from here two medieval gateways known as Penniless Porch and the Bishop's Eye link the market place to the Cathedral.


There are many independent shops and good quality restaurants to suit all tastes making Wells the best overnight stop on the Mendip Way. A place where you can take a stroll along the winding cobbled streets leading away from the market square and enjoy the cosmopolitan air of this little city.

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