Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Monday, 22 September 2014

Wells Cathedral (Part Three).

Text and Illustrations from Wikipedia - the free encyclopaedia,
unless otherwise stated.

Fan-Vaulting in
Wells Cathedral.

The West Front,
Wells Cathedral,
Somerset, England.
Photo: 30 April 2014.
Source: Own work.
Author: Diliff.
License: CC-BY-SA 3.0
(Wikimedia Commons)

Following Creighton's appointment as Bishop, Ralph Bathurst, who had been Chaplain to the King, President of Trinity College, Oxford, and Fellow of the Royal Society, became Dean. During Bathurst's long tenure, the Cathedral was restored, however, in the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685, Puritan soldiers damaged the West Front, tore Lead from the roof to make bullets, broke the windows, smashed the Organ and furnishings, and, for a time, stabled their horses in the Nave.

Restoration began again under Bishop Thomas Ken, who was appointed by the Crown in 1685 and served until 1691. He was one of seven Bishops imprisoned for refusing to sign King James II's "Declaration of Indulgence", which would have enabled Catholics to resume positions of political power, but popular support led to their acquittal. Ken refused to take the Oath of Allegiance to William and Mary, because James II had not Abdicated and, with others, known as the Nonjurors, was put out of Office. His successor, Bishop Kidder, was killed in the Great Storm of 1703, when two Chimney Stacks on the Palace fell on him and his wife, while they were asleep in bed.

The 13th-Century West Front, Wells Cathedral, by Thomas Norreys.
As a synthesis of form, architectural decoration and figurative sculpture,
it is considered to be unsurpassed in Britain.
Photo: 27 October 2010.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Author: Ad Meskens.
(Wikimedia Commons)

By the middle of the 19th-Century, a major restoration programme was needed. Under Dean Goodenough, the Monuments were moved to the Cloisters and the remaining Mediaeval paint and whitewash was removed in an operation known as "The Great Scrape".

Anthony Salvin took charge of the extensive restoration of the Choir. Wooden Galleries, that had been installed in the 16th-Century, were removed and the Stalls were given Stone Canopies and placed further back within the line of the Arcade. The Mediaeval Stone Pulpitum Screen was extended in the centre to support a new Organ.

The Late-20th-Century saw an extensive restoration programme, particularly of the West Front. The Stained-Glass is currently under restoration, with a programme underway to conserve the large 14th-Century Jesse Tree Window, at the Eastern Terminal of the Choir.

On the lowest levels, many statues are lost,
but this group of Saints remains
at the back of the North Tower.
Photo: 9 December 2008.
Source: Own work.
Author: Mattana.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Since the 13th-Century, Wells Cathedral has been the Seat of the Bishop of Bath and Wells. Its Governing Body, the Chapter, is made up of five Clerical Canons (the Dean, the Precentor, the Canon Chancellor, the Canon Treasurer, and the Arch-Deacon of Wells) and four Lay Members: The Administrator (Chief Executive), Keeper of the Fabric, Overseer of the Estate and the Chairman of the Cathedral Shop and Catering Boards. The current Bishop of Bath and Wells is Peter Hancock, who was installed in a Service in the Cathedral on 7 June 2014. The present Dean is John Clarke.

Employed Staff include the Organist and Master of Choristers, Head Verger, Archivist, Librarian and the Staff of the Shop, Café and Restaurant. The Chapter is advised by specialists, such as Architects, Archaeologists and Financial Experts.

More than a thousand Services are held each year. There are Daily Services of Matins, Holy Communion and Choral Evensong, as well as major celebrations of Christian Festivals, such as Christmas, Easter, Pentecost and Saints' Days.

The Cathedral is also used for the Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals of those with close connections to it. In July 2009, the Cathedral hosted the Funeral of Harry Patch, the last British Army Veteran of World War I, who died at the age of 111.

This is a fully-dressed Traditional Verger's Gown.
Note the Velvet Trimming down the front,
and Velvet Chevrons on the Sleeves. The Verger has a White Jabot at the throat.
Source:, [The Vergers' Guild Of The Diocese Of Dallas],
which is my site and contains my photographs
and which are available to anyone who wants them.
This File: 25 January 2006.
User: Sarum blue.

Three Sunday Services are led by the resident Choir (during the School Terms) and Choral Services are sung on weekdays. The Cathedral hosts visiting Choirs and is involved in outreach work with local schools, as part of its Chorister Outreach Project. The Cathedral is also the venue for musical events, such as an Annual Concert by the Somerset Chamber Choir.

Each year, approximately 150,000 people attend Services, and another 300,000 visit as tourists. Entry is free, but visitors are encouraged to make a donation towards the annual running costs, which were around £2 million (approx. US$3.3 million) in 2010.

Construction of the Cathedral began about 1175, to the design of an unknown architect. Wells is the first Cathedral in England to be, from its Foundation, built in the Gothic Style. According to art historian John Harvey, it is the first truly Gothic Cathedral in the world, its architects having entirely dispensed with all the features that bound the contemporary East End of Canterbury Cathedral and the earlier buildings of France, such as the East End of the Abbey of Saint Denis, to the Romanesque.

Unlike these Churches, Wells has Clustered Piers, rather than Columns, and has a Gallery of identical Pointed Arches, rather than the typically-Romanesque form of Paired Openings. The Style, with its simple Non-Traceried Lancet Arches and Convoluted Mouldings, is known as Early-English Gothic.

Wells Cathedral's Central Tower,
seen from the Cloisters.
Photo: 27 October 2010.
Source: Own work.
Author: Ad Meskens.
(Wikimedia Commons)

From about 1192 to 1230, Adam Lock, the earliest Architect at Wells for whom a name is known, continued the Transept and Nave in the same manner as his predecessor. Lock was also Builder of the North Porch, to his own design.

The Early-English West Front was commenced around 1230, by Thomas Norreys, with building and sculpture continuing for thirty years. Its South-West Tower was begun 100 years later and constructed between 1365 and 1395, and the North-West Tower between 1425 and 1435, both in the Perpendicular Gothic Style, to the design of William Wynford, who also filled many of the Cathedral's Early-English Lancet Windows with delicate Tracery.

The Chapter House,
Wells Cathedral.
Photo: 9 July 2014.
Source: Own work.
Author: Diliff.
License: CC-BY-SA 3.0
(Wikimedia Commons)

Between 1275 and 1310, the Undercroft and Chapter House were built by unknown architects, the Undercroft in the Early-English Style and the Chapter House in the Geometric Style of Decorated Gothic.


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