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Wells Cathedral - My view

Wells Cathedral and its magnificent West Front

You really can’t put a price on a good view can you? I mean, how much would you pay to see my dear friend Wells Cathedral when you wake up every day? Just think how much more properties by the sea or those overlooking rolling fields are often worth. If you’re lucky enough to be able to open your curtains and drink in a view, then I bet that you begin most days in a pretty good mood. I know I do.

I’m fortunate enough to enjoy an amazing vista and one that nearly always makes me smile. It’s one that I never get bored of; one that is constantly changing throughout the day. I love to watch people. From my position I can see people wandering across the Cathedral Green, some hurrying, others ambling, some with the weight of the world on their shoulders, others seemingly without a care in the world.

The scissor arches inside Wells Cathedral

The scissor arches inside Wells Cathedral

An ever-changing view of Wells Cathedral

Bright, sunny days are my favourite. The sunlight subtly alters the appearance of the statues on the magnificent West Front of Wells Cathedral and the whole building can take on a golden hue. It’s a view I have enjoyed for many, many years, but it hasn’t always been like this. Oh no. Perhaps that’s a good thing. Perhaps that’s why I don’t take it for granted now. I remember when I used to look out on a couple of pretty non-descript houses. Let me take you back to that time, back to the mid 1800s…

You can’t please all the people, all the time…

In the 1860s I was under the ownership of the Mead’s and had been for some years. Edward Mead had my license in the 1850s and when he died in 1858 this transferred to his widow, Sarah and his son, John. It was under the stewardship of Sarah and John that my view was forever improved when two houses directly opposite were demolished on Friday 20th May 1864.

One of the two buildings certainly dated from between 1573 and 1600 (as I’ve mentioned before the old memory isn’t what it used to be). It was erected against an ancient wall which used to enclose the churchyard and the building was used as a coffee house and then a bakery. While all of the buildings in the row were pretty shabby at this time, the removal of the two houses which most obscured my view did cause some consternation. Some people vented their disappointment at the removal of the ancient wall and the size of the gap that was left. It’s actually documented that some called the gap, “ludicrous” and compared it to, “…the space left in a man’s mouth by drawing a single tooth.” As for the ancient wall, some felt that removing the separation of ecclesiastical and temporal property was a thoroughly thoughtless act, destroying not only a piece of antiquity, but a page of local and national history. Emotions were certainly running high.

Over subsequent years (and with the intervention of man) the lime trees on the Cathedral Green have come, gone and come again, but no buildings have been erected. I’m so grateful that my outlook remains unblemished and that my guests can share this same view by using Swan Terrace.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve enjoyed the view of Wells Cathedral for over 150 years. I hope I’m around to enjoy if for many, many more.