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About Wells

Wells




Wells (/wɛlz/) is a cathedral city and civil parish in the Mendip district of Somerset, England, on the southern edge of the Mendip Hills. Although the population recorded in the 2011 census was only 10,536, it has had city status since medieval times, because of the presence of Wells Cathedral. Often described as England's smallest city, it is second only to the City of London in area and population, though not part of a larger urban agglomeration.

The name Wells comes from three wells dedicated to Saint Andrew, one in the market place and two within the grounds of the Bishop's Palace and cathedral. A small Roman settlement surrounded them, which grew in importance and size under the Anglo-Saxons when King Ine of Wessex founded a minster church there in 704. The community became a trading centre based on cloth making and Wells is notable for its 17th century involvement in both the English Civil Warand Monmouth Rebellion. In the 19th century, transport infrastructure improved with stations on three different railway lines, however the city has since 1964 been without a railway link.

The cathedral and the associated religious and architectural history have made Wells a tourist destination, which provides much of the employment. The city has a variety of sporting and cultural activities and houses several schools including The Blue School, a state coeducationalcomprehensive school originally founded in 1641 and the independent Wells Cathedral School, which was founded possibly as early as 909 and is one of the five established musical schools for school-age children in the United Kingdom. The historic architecture of the city has also been used as a location for several films and television programmes.



                       Wells


 
Aerial view of Wells.jpg

              Aerial photograph of Wells



Governance

 

Street scene with shops on either side of the street. In the centre stands an old stone monument. In the background are an old stone gatehouse and behind it the towers of the cathedral.



The Market Place is the site of one of the city's ancient wells (note the water flowing in the gully, down High Street); the Bishop's Eye gatehouse (to the Bishop's Palace) is at the far end; two of Wells Cathedral's towers can be seen rising behind the buildings.

Wells City Council is a parish council, with a membership of sixteen councillors, elected from three parish wards. They are (with the number of parish councilors each elects, in brackets): Central (four), St. Thomas' (six) and St. Cuthbert's (six).

The civil parish of Wells was formed in 1933 upon the merger of Wells St Cuthbert In and Wells St Andrew (the latter being the historic liberty of the cathedral, the bishop's palace, etc., amounting to just 52 acres (21 ha)). Wells is the successor parish for Wells Municipal Borough, which existed from the creation of municipal boroughs in 1835 to their abolition in 1974. The parish has held the city status of Wells since 1 April 1974 (previously held by the municipal borough) and the member of the City Council who chairs the council holds the historic office of Mayor of Wells, typically for one year. The current mayor (for the 2014-15 municipal year) is Councillor Chris Briton, who is the 641st Mayor of Wells. Another historic position is that of the Town Crier.

The City Council has responsibility for local issues, including setting an annual precept (local rate) to cover the council's operating costs and producing annual accounts for public scrutiny. They also evaluate local planning applications and work with the local police, district council officers, and neighbourhood watch groups on matters of crime, security, and traffic. This includes city centre management including CCTV, an alcohol ban and regulating street trading permissions including the two funfairs held in the Market Place in May and November each year and the Wells In Bloom competition. The city council's role also includes initiating projects for the maintenance and repair of city facilities, as well as consulting with the district council on the maintenance, repair, and improvement of highways, drainage, footpaths, public transport, and street cleaning. They are involved in the management of the Community Sports Development Centre at the Blue School, the skateboard park and allotments in the grounds of the Bishop's Palace, Burcott Road and Barnes Close. Conservation matters (including trees and listed buildings) and environmental issues are also the responsibility of the council.



 

Symmetrical two storey building in classical style with nine bays.

          Town Hall
 

The Town Hall was built in 1778, with the porch and arcade being added in 1861 and the balcony and round windows in 1932. It is a Grade II listed building. It replaced the former on the site of the Market and Assize Hall in the Market Place, and a Canonical House also known as 'The Exchequer', on the authority of an Act of Parliament dated 1779. The building also houses the magistrates courts and other offices. The Assize court last sat here in October 1970.

Wells elects five councillors to Mendip District Council from the same three wards as are used for the City Council (two are returned from St Cuthbert's, two from St Thomas' and one from Central). The Mendip district was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972 and the district council is responsible for local planning and building control, local roads, council housingenvironmental health, markets and fairs, refuse collection and recyclingcemeteries and crematoria, leisure services, parks, and tourism.

Wells is an electoral division (with the same boundaries as the civil parish) of Somerset and returns one councillor to Somerset County Council,which is responsible for running the largest and most expensive local services such as educationsocial serviceslibraries, main roads, public transport, policing and fire servicestrading standardswaste disposal and strategic planning. Wells is part of the UK Parliament constituency of Wells. The current Member of Parliament is Tessa Munt of the Liberal Democrats. Wells is within the South West England constituency of theEuropean Parliament which elects six Members of the European Parliament using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.



Economy



 

Following construction of the A39/A371 bypass, the centre of the city has returned to being that of a quiet market town. It has all the modern conveniences plus shops, hotels and restaurants. Wells is a popular tourist destination, due to its historical sites, its proximity to BathStonehenge and Glastonbury and its closeness to the Somerset coast. Also nearby are Wookey Hole Caves, the Mendip Hills and the Somerset Levels. Somerset cheese, including Cheddar, is made locally. Wells is part of the Wells & Shepton Mallet Travel to Work Area which also includes Glastonbury, Cheddar and surrounding areas. Wells, along with Cary Castle, are the first places in the UK to be part of the MyHigh.St website for local independent retailers, with more than half of retailers in Wells joining as MyHigh.St launched.

 

Transport
 

 



         Wells bus station

 

Wells is situated at the junction of three numbered routes. The A39 goes north-east to Bath and south-west to Glastonbury and Bridgwater. The A371 goes north-west to Cheddar and east to Shepton Mallet. The B3139 goes west to Highbridge and north-east to Radstock. Wells is served by FirstGroup bus services to Bristol, Bristol Temple Meads, Bath, Frome, Shepton Mallet, Yeovil, Street, Bridgwater, Taunton, Burnham on Sea and Weston-super-Mare, as well as providing some local service. Some National Express coach3services call at Wells. The bus station is in Princes Road. The Mendip Way and Monarch's Way long-distance footpaths pass through the city, as does Webberbus connects Wells to Weston-super-Mare, Highbridge and Bridgwater.



Education

 

Red brick building with small tower to the left of the arched doorway and bay window to the right.

The Music School of Wells Cathedral School
 

The Blue School, founded in 1654, is a state coeducational comprehensive school and has been awarded Specialist science college status. It has 1,453 students aged 11–18 of both sexes and all ability levels.

Wells Cathedral School, founded in 909, is an independent school that has a Christian emphasis and is one of the five established musical schools for school-age children in Britain. The school teaches over 700 pupils between the ages of 3 and 18. The school's boarding houses line the northern parts of the city and the music school retains close links with Wells Cathedral. The primary schools in Wells are Stoberry Park School, St Cuthbert's Church of England Infants School, St Cuthbert's Church of England Junior School and St Joseph and St Teresa Catholic Primary School.




Religious sites

 

Yeloow stone building with buttressed towers on the left and right. Extensive decoration with statues.

The west front of Wells Cathedral

A walled precinct, the Liberty of St Andrew, encloses the twelfth century Cathedral, the Bishop's Palace, Vicar's Close and the residences of the clergy who serve the cathedral. Entrances include the Penniless PorchThe Bishop's Eye and Brown's Gatehouse which were all built around 1450.

The cathedral is the seat of the Church of England Diocese of Bath and Wells. Wells has been an ecclesiastical city of importance since at least the early 8th century. Parts of the building date back to the tenth century, and it is a grade I listed building. It is known for its fine fan vaulted ceilings, Lady Chapel and windows, and the scissor arches which support the central tower. The west front is said to be the finest collection of statuary in Europe, retaining almost 300 of its original medieval statues, carved from the cathedral's warm, yellow Doulting stone. The Chapter House, at the top of a flight of stone stairs, leading out from the north transept is an octagonal building with a fan-vaulted ceiling. It is here that the business of running the cathedral is still conducted by the members of the Chapter, the cathedral's ruling body. Wells Cathedral  is famous for its 24-hour astronomical dial and set of jousting knights that perform every quarter hour. The cathedral has the heaviest ring of ten bells in the world. The tenor bell weighs just over 56 CWT (6,272 lb, 2,844 kg).


 

Decorated and buttressed yellow stone tower.

 St.Cuthbert Parish Church, Wells

The Bishop's Palace has been the home of the bishops of the Diocese of Bath and Wells for 800 years. The hall and chapel date from the 14th century. There are 14 acres (5.7 ha) of gardens including the springs from which the city takes its name. Visitors can also see the Bishop's private chapel, ruined great hall and the gatehouse with portcullis and drawbridge beside which mute swans ring a bell for food. The Bishop's Barn was built in the 15th century.

The Vicars' Close is the oldest residential street in Europe. The Close is tapered by 10 feet (3.0 m) to make it look longer when viewed from the bottom. When viewed from the top, however, it looks shorter.The Old Deanery dates from the 12th century, and St John's Priory from the 14th.

The Church of St Cuthbert (which tourists often mistake for the cathedral) has a fine Somerset stone tower and a superb carved roof. Originally an Early English building (13th century), it was much altered in the Perpendicular period (15th century). The nave's coloured ceiling was repainted in 1963 at the instigation of the then Vicar's wife, Mrs Barnett. Until 1561 the church had a central tower which either collapsed or was removed, and has been replaced with the current tower over the west door. Bells were cast for the tower by Roger Purdy.




Night scene of floodlight stone walls adjoining still water. 


The Bishop's Palace gatehouse and drawbridge





Ornate stone buildings. 2 archways beneath towers. In the foreground is a lamp stand with flowers.   
 

 

 

Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wells,_Somerset 


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