A Great Day Trip To Wells

Wells is the UK’s smallest free-standing city! Set in Somerset, England it has a rich history that dates back to Roman times. It is famous for the stunning Wells Cathedral, Vicars close and nowadays, as a popular tourist destination with beautiful beautiful gardens, and lots of independent shops and cafes.

It is so stunning it has been used as a film location in many popular movies, famously as the base of the fictional village in “Hot Fuzz”, in the Netflix series “The Crown”, the 2006 Movie “The Da Vinchi Code” and many other big names- more details below!

The name “Wells” comes from the three natural springs that are located in the city and were considered sacred by the Celts. The city played an important role in the medieval period, as it was the seat of the Bishop of Bath and Wells and was home to a number of important religious buildings.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Wells became known for its textile industry, and the city was home to a number of mills and factories.

Wells is so special it also features in our guide to 3 charming day trips from Bristol, another post you might like to check out.

How to spend a perfect day in Wells:

We definitely suggest a visit to wells cathedral and to the vicars close– absolute must-sees for the charming architecture of the town. We suggest going on a market day and possibly before the cathedral, spending some time soaking up the bustling market atmosphere.

After strolling around the tiny city, check out our suggestion for cafes restaurants and historic pubs to grab a bite. In the afternoon you could stroll around the garden of the Bishops Palace, or combine the day trip to wells with a visit to the famous Wookey Hole caves, phenomenal natural cave structures very nearby.

Below we give you some more details about the highlights of Wells:

  1. Wells Cathedral
  2. The Bishop’s Palace and Gardens
  3. Vicars Close
  4. Market Place
  5. Wells and Mendip Museum
  6. Wookey Hole Caves

Wells Cathedral

This stunning cathedral is the centrepiece of the city and a must-visit. The cathedral dates back to the 12th century and features impressive Gothic architecture. Entry is free, but a suggested donation of £5 is appreciated to support continuous maintenance and restoration works.

Wells Cathedral is a medieval cathedral located in the city of Wells in Somerset, England. The cathedral was built between the 12th and 14th centuries and is one of the most impressive examples of Gothic architecture in England.

One of the most famous features of Wells Cathedral is its stunning façade, which features a number of intricate sculptures and carvings. The west front of the cathedral is considered to be one of the most impressive examples of Gothic architecture in Europe and is a popular attraction for visitors to the cathedral.

The Famous Wells Cathedral Clock

One of the most exciting things to visit inside the cathedral is the astronomical clock- the oldest surviving mechanical clock in the world!

The astronomical clock, which dates back to the late 14th century features a number of dials that show the positions of the sun, moon, and stars, as well as the phases of the moon and the time of day.

Every quarter-hour, you can watch the spectacle of wooden figuring knights pop out and joust as they rotate out of the cathedral wall. At every hour the twelve apostles also rotate around.

Unlike modern clocks, which rely on digital technology and batteries, the clocks in Wells Cathedral are powered by weights that are wound up by hand. The intricate mechanical design of the clocks is a testament to the craftsmanship and engineering skills of the medieval period and is an amazing glimpse into the history of timekeeping

Wells as a filming location

The 2007 action-comedy film “Hot Fuzz” was partly filmed on location in Wells, Somerset, which is where Wells Cathedral is located. The film was directed by Edgar Wright and starred Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who also starred in the hit comedy “Shaun of the Dead.”

In “Hot Fuzz,” Wells was used as the filming location for the fictional village of Sandford, which serves as the main setting for the film. Many of the film’s exterior shots were filmed on location in Wells, including scenes filmed on the city’s High Street and at the Bishop’s Palace.

The filmmakers chose Wells as a filming location due to its picturesque setting and historic atmosphere, which helped to bring the film’s fictional village to life on screen and a sense of authenticity, despite its over-the-top action and comedy elements.

Wells Cathedral was featured in the third season of the Netflix series “The Crown.” In the episode titled “Coup,” which is the third episode of the season, the cathedral was used as a filming location to represent Westminster Abbey during the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

In the episode, the actors playing Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are shown walking down the aisle of the cathedral during the coronation scene, with the cathedral’s stunning architecture and stained glass windows in the background. The scene was filmed in the cathedral’s nave, which is the central aisle of the building.

One of the most famous movies to be filmed at Wells Cathedral is the 2006 film “The Da Vinci Code,” which is based on the bestselling novel by Dan Brown. In the film, the cathedral is used to represent Westminster Abbey, and a number of scenes were filmed both inside and outside the building.

Wells Cathedral has also been used as a filming location for other movies, including “Johnny English Reborn,” and “Elizabeth: The Golden Age.” It has also been featured in a number of television shows, including “Doctor Who,” “Wolf Hall,” and “Poldark.”

The Bishop’s Palace and Gardens

This medieval palace was built for the Bishop of Bath and Wells and is surrounded by beautiful gardens. It looks like a stunning historical castle in the middle of the tiny city!

Highlights include the moat, drawbridge, and swans that live in the moat. Admission is £9 for adults and £4.50 for children (although even just viewing from the outside and walking around the moat for free is a wonderful journey back through history).

A bit more about the Bishops Palace and Gardens

The Bishop’s Palace and Gardens in Wells, Somerset, is a historic site that dates back to the 13th century and is situated next to wells cathedral. The palace was built as a residence for the Bishop of Bath and Wells and served as the bishop’s home for over 800 years.

The Gardens

The gardens are surrounded by a large moat, which is fed by natural springs. The moat is home to a family of swans, which have been a feature of the palace since the 1800s. In the garden is a well pool, which is fed by one of the springs that also feeds the moat. The well pool is surrounded by a variety of flowers and shrubs and is a peaceful and tranquil spot in the garden.

There’s also a large arboretum, which is home to trees and shrubs from around the world- it’s a popular destination for nature lovers and those interested in horticulture. There is also a beautiful rose garden, filled with over 1,500 roses. The rose garden is a popular destination for visitors in the summer months when the roses are in full bloom.

Vicars’ Close

This charming street is said to be the oldest continuously inhabited street in Europe, dating back to the 14th century. The street is lined with historic homes and is a great spot for a stroll and some stunning photos!

Vicars’ Close is a stunning example of medieval architecture, with 27 houses built in the 14th century. The houses are all made of local stone and have distinctive features, such as tall chimneys and pointed gables.

The street was originally built to provide housing for the vicars of Wells Cathedral. The houses were built in a row to create a sense of community and to make it easier for the vicars to attend services at the cathedral.

Amazingly, it has remained largely unchanged since it was built in the 14th century. The houses have been well-preserved, and the street has retained its original character and charm over the centuries.

Although Vicars’ Close is a historic street, it is still a vibrant and lively part of the community in Wells. Some of the houses are still occupied by clergy from the cathedral, while others have been converted into shops and offices. The street is a popular destination for visitors, and it is often used as a backdrop for television shows and movies.

Market Place

This bustling square in the heart of the city is home to a weekly farmers’ market as well as a variety of shops and restaurants. The market in Wells has a lively and festive atmosphere, with vendors calling out their wares, live music performances, and a bustling crowd of shoppers.

The market in Wells dates back to at least the 12th century when a charter was granted by Bishop Robert of Lewes to hold a weekly market in the city. The market is open twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 9 am to 4 pm. On Wednesdays, the market primarily features local produce, while Saturdays are busier and offer a wider range of goods, including crafts, clothing, jewellery, and more.

The market features a mix of vendors, including local farmers, artisans, and craftspeople. Some of the popular items sold at the market include fresh produce, artisanal bread and cheeses, handmade crafts and gifts, and more.

The market in Wells is located in the city centre and is easily accessible on foot. There are also several car parks located nearby, as well as public transportation options for those travelling from outside the city.

Wells & Mendip Museum

This museum features exhibits on the history of Wells and the surrounding area, including geology, archaeology, and local culture. Admission is £5 for adults and £1 for children.

The museum features a wide range of exhibits showcasing the history of Wells and the surrounding Mendip Hills. Highlights include a collection of fossils and geology exhibits, a display on the history of the local wool industry, and an exhibit on the famous 17th-century astronomer John Goodricke, who made groundbreaking discoveries about the stars and planets.

The museum offers several interactive exhibits including a working model of a water mill, a replica of a prehistoric cave, and a touch-screen exhibit that allows visitors to explore the local landscape and learn about the history of the Mendip Hills.

The Wells and Mendip Museum is typically open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm. It is closed on Mondays, except for Bank Holiday Mondays when it is open. However, it is always best to check the museum’s website or call ahead to confirm opening hours, as they may be subject to change due to holidays or special events

Wookey Hole Caves

Just a few miles outside of Wells is the Wookey Hole Caves, a series of limestone caverns that have been carved out by the River Axe. The caves are home to underground lakes and impressive stalactites and stalagmites. Admission is £20 for adults and £15 for children.

The Wookey Hole Caves offer visitors a unique opportunity to explore the natural beauty and history of one of the most fascinating geological wonders in the UK. Archaeologists reckon humans have been using the caves for shelter and ritual purposes for thousands of years. The caves were later used as a hideout by medieval outlaws.

As you walk down the underground chambers of the Wookey Hole Caves, you’re transported into a different world. From the shimmering stalactites and stalagmites to the intricate limestone structures that have formed over thousands of years, the caves are a sight to behold. The atmospheric lighting adds to the magical, otherworldly experience.

Wookey Hole caves admission grants entry to not only the caves but a range of activities and attractions including The mirror maze, 4D cinema, and animatronic dinosaur exhibition. There are also a range of adventure activities nearby including cave dives, rock climbing and abseiling.

Most charming pubs and cafes in Wells

Excellent cafes in Wells:

  1. Goodfellows – This charming café in the heart of the city serves up homemade cakes, sandwiches, and coffee in a cosy setting.
  2. The Courtyard Cafe – Located in the Bishop’s Palace, this café serves up light bites and homemade cakes in a beautiful setting overlooking the gardens.
  3. The Good Earth – This vegetarian café and health food store is a popular spot for healthy eats in the city centre. The menu features a range of vegetarian and vegan dishes, as well as smoothies and juices.
  4. Sadler’s Brasserie – This restaurant in the city centre is known for its modern British cuisine and relaxed atmosphere. The menu features a range of dishes made with locally sourced ingredients.

Charming historic pubs in Wells:

  1. The Crown at Wells – This historic pub in the city centre serves up traditional pub fare and a range of local ales and ciders.
  2. The Sheppey – This gastropub just outside of Wells in the village of Godney is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike. The menu features locally sourced ingredients and a range of craft beers and ciders.

How to get to Wells from Bristol

Wells is about 22 miles (35 km) south of Bristol, and the journey by car takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on traffic. The most direct route is to take the A37 south from Bristol, which will take you all the way to Wells.

The easiest way to get to Wells by public transport is to take the 376 bus from Bristol Bus Station to Wells Bus Station. The journey takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, and buses run every hour.

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