Wells Cathedral

Top choice in Bristol, Bath & Somerset

Wells' gargantuan Gothic cathedral sits plumb in the centre of the city, surrounded by one of the largest cathedral closes in England. It was built in stages between 1180 and 1508, and consequently showcases several Gothic styles. Among its notable features are the West Front, decorated with more than 300 carved figures, and the famous scissor arches – an ingenious architectural solution to counter the subsidence of the central tower. Don't miss the High Parts Tour that heads up into the roof.

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 covered cloister known as the Chain Bridge enabled clerics to reach the cathedral without getting their robes wet.

Free guided tours run regularly from Monday to Saturday.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Bristol, Bath & Somerset attractions

1. Wells Museum

0.05 MILES

Exhibits include those on local life, cathedral architecture and archaeological finds from the nearby cave network of Wookey Hole, including the bones of…

2. Cathedral Close

0.05 MILES

Wells Cathedral forms the centrepiece of a cluster of ecclesiastical buildings dating back to the Middle Ages. Facing the West Front, on the left are the…

3. Bishop's Palace

0.11 MILES

Built for the bishop in the 13th century, this moat-ringed palace is purportedly the oldest inhabited building in England. Inside, the palace's state…

4. Wookey Hole

1.64 MILES

The River Axe has gouged out this network of deep limestone caverns, which are famous for striking stalagmites and stalactites, one of which is the…

5. Glastonbury Tor

5.14 MILES

Topped by the ruined medieval Chapel of St Michael, the iconic hump of Glastonbury Tor is visible for miles around, and provides Somerset with one of its…

6. White Spring

5.35 MILES

One of Glastonbury's sacred wells, said to have healing powers.

7. Chalice Well & Gardens

5.36 MILES

Shaded by yew trees and criss-crossed by quiet paths, the Chalice Well & Gardens have been sites of pilgrimage since the days of the Celts. The iron-red…

8. Lake Village Museum

5.39 MILES

The Lake Village Museum displays finds from a prehistoric bog village discovered in nearby Godney. The houses were clustered in about six groups and built…