The Wells of Wells

This must sound stupid, but I have visited England’s smallest city many times but until recently I hadn’t realised that there were actual wells there. In fact since Roman times at least, their existence was the reason for settlement. England is often called a green and pleasant land, but one fo the disadvantages of being an island is that there are no alps to provide snow melt for water in the summers. Areas such as the Mendips were often short of water in summer, and did not acquire regular supplies until piped there in the 19th century.

The Bishop’s Palace adjoins the Cathedral and is surrounded by a moat fed by the springs. The wall is too small to have been any form of defence but it has been vital in preventing flood damage. Within the walls is a Tudor garden with some very old trees including this holly which I still struggle to believe is so big:

These are the ponds where the wells arise, all surrounded by lawns manicured intensively by volunteers. Nobody is allowed to drink or bathe in the water.

For the water to flow it needs to be pumped. This is Bishop Bekyngton’s pump house with his Talbot hound carved on top. Also shown is the waterwheel.

The Bishop supplied the citizens with free water supply from this fine Market Conduit which was also used to flush away the waste on market day, especially from the butchers. It is three sided to signify the Holy Trinity, to remind people who was ultimately responsible for this life giving water.


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