Wells Cathedral

sights / Religious

Wells Cathedral information

Wells , United Kingdom
Street Cathedral Green
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requested donation adult/child £6/3
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Lonely Planet review

Wells' gargantuan Gothic cathedral (officially known as the Cathedral Church of St Andrew) sits plum in the centre of the city, sorrounded by one of the largest cathedral closes anywhere in England. It was built in several stages between 1180 and 1508, and consequently showcases a range of different Gothic styles.

Dominated by its squat towers, the cathedral's most famous asset is its west front , an immense sculpture gallery decorated with more than 300 figures, built in the 13th century and restored in 1986. The facade would once have been painted in vivid colours, but has long since reverted to its original sandy hue. Apart from the figure of Christ, installed in 1985 in the uppermost niche, all the figures are original.

Inside, the cathedral's famous scissor arches separate the nave from the choir. Though they appear purely decorative, they were actually built to counter the subsidence of the central tower.

High up in the north transept is a mechanical clock dating from 1392 – the second-oldest in England after the one at Salisbury Cathedral – which shows the position of the planets and the phases of the moon.

Other highlights include the elegant Lady Chapel (1326), the fan-vaulted Chapter House (1306) and the celebrated chained library , which contains books and manuscripts dating back to 1472. Outside, the cathedral's Chain Bridge enabled clerics to reach the cathedral without getting their robes wet.

Free guided tours usually run every hour from Monday to Saturday, but you'll need a photography permit (£3) to take pictures.