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Wednesday 30th August 1972 - Wells

In the morning when we went down to breakfast there was a letter awaiting me. It was from Great Grandma Seal. Today we were going to Wells in the county of Somerset. From the car we saw a house with bushes that were huge, pruned to queer shapes. Many times we passed a hop house where they get the hops ready for making beer. On the top of the houses are a kind of wooden spire. It was just the beginning of autumn and some trees were bare. In some of the trees that were bare we saw huge bird nests made of twigs. In Gloucester we stopped to look at the Cathedral. Near the carpark on the side of a shop was a Wall Mural. It was a modern kind of sculptured painting of ancient times. The wording was in Latin. It was in bright colours of orange, brown, grey, black and white. Near the entrance of the Cathedral are some old ruined arches that used to belong to the Cathedral. The Cathedral school called King's School was founded in 1541. Gloucester Cathedral is also joining in the Three Choirs Festival. Inside the entrance as we looked down the nave we saw that all the arches were decorated Norman except for the last two which were Gothic. When the arches changed we noticed that the ceiling changed. The Norman ceiling was painted with a white background and a pattern of stripes on it. The Gothic ceiling was very decorative. The organ pipes had painted decorations on them. The east windows are enormous but are not very colourful. Behind the sanctuary was the tomb of Robert, Duke of Normandy, eldest son of William I who died in Cardiff Castle 1134 and was buried before the high altar. As usual there is the Lady Chapel which is huge in size.

Back in the car again we saw men making a flat wall where they use flat stones and no cement. To get to Bradford-on-Avon we drove through Bath which has Georgian styled houses. In Bradford-on-Avon, which is east of Bath, we stopped and looked around. After having lunch in a park beside the River Avon we went to see a Saxon church. It consisted of a porch, nave and chancel all of which were very, very small. In the porch is the font and above the chancel are two carved angels. The chancel is simple, but beautiful, consisting of an altar and chair. Until 1856 the little church was lost sight of as it was used as a house and the upper floor of the nave as a school. The chancel arch was pulled down and chimney stack was put in its place. During some repairs the two carved angels were found and the discovery set the vicar, Canon Jones, thinking that it might be an ancient church. When he proved it was, he bought it from the owners and it was opened to the public. Saxons did not build big churches like the Normans or Goths because their knowledge of engineering was not as wide. The church was very interesting and old.

Over the road from the Saxon church was another old church which we looked at. The most striking thing was the squint where a mirror was placed in a little passageway and when the monks looked in the mirror they could see the reflection of the High Altar. This allowed them to see when the priest was starting the parish service and then they could

start their own service as they kept themselves to themselves. The church was situated in a beautiful setting by the river.

When we arrived in Wells we found a place to stay called The White Swan Hotel. It was beautiful. The boys and my bedroom window looked out over Wells Cathedral Close and green. We went to look at Wells Cathedral after unpacking. One of the most interesting things was the interior clock. It was constructed in 1380 maybe at Glastonbury Cathedral where there were workshops. The main face in the North Transept has an outer dial for the 24 hours and an inner one for the minutes, the indicators being moving stars. The phases of the moon are also shown. Above the face 4 knights ride around each hour. There is a large seated figure near the clock which has the strange name of Jack Blandiver who strikes the bells with his hands and feet. The great hour bell is at the top of the central tower. The process of the Jack Blandiver striking the bells and the knights riding round happens every ¼ hour which we saw. The ceiling was hand-painted with a background of white and a red and green pattern on that. The central tower began to lean to the west a bit so they built inverted arches on the four sides of where the tower was to use them as reinforcements. In most cathedrals the choir was separate from the nave, but as the inverted arches were there we could see right down to the High Altar.

We walked along the cloisters until we got to the Bishop’s Palace which is one of the oldest inhabited houses in England. It has a moat around it where swans and ducks swim. There is a bell on the side of the wall and when the swans are hungry they ring the bell. The old Banqueting Hall is in ruins. Inside the Bishop’s Quarters is an original chair from Glastonbury Abbey which has gone down through the family. The moat, drawbridge and other fortifications were built by Bishop Ralph of Shrewsbury when he had some differences with the town folk, but no actual fighting took place.

We then tried to get to Wells b walking around the moat. On the way we saw a most extraordinary tree. Its trunk was in half and that half was growing up the wall and the branches just spread out on the wall. After a while we got lost and found a little park. It had a funny tree too. The tree was normal but had one branch that swung right out, touched the ground and joined another part of the tree. After dinner we went for a walk by the moat on the lovely lawns and threw some bread to the ducks and swans. We then went back to our comfy room and went to bed.

Posted by hillbillyramsey 17:00 Archived in United Kingdom

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