Archaeological excavations were carried out between 1978 and 1993 primarily on the cloisters at Wells Cathedral and the monuments that were hidden are now displayed on the outer walls. Due to Covid-19 restrictions and a one-way system it wasn’t possible on our visit to see everything, but we were able to step outside into the Camery garden which lies next to the cloisters.
Here lay an ancient cemetery and the foundations of a succession of demolished buildings, ranging in date from Roman to post-medieval including the late Medieval foundations of the older Lady Chapel, destroyed during the Reformation by gunpowder.
The area has been pleasantly landscaped with trees and shrubs and spring bulbs and there are several benches. It is a tranquil space.
Adjacent to the Camery are the springs from which Wells takes its name. You can glimpse St Andrew’s Well through a window in the wall into the Bishop’s Palace Gardens, but there is no access from here. You need to cross the moat at the Gatehouse. The first mention of the ‘holy well’ and minster church of St Andrew is in A.D. 766. The springs in the gardens are fed by subterranean streams from the Mendip hills.
From Neolithic times the supply of fresh water attracted settlers and around 700AD King Ina of Wessex founded a minster church just south of where the present cathedral now lies.
I will try and write more about the cathedral itself on my travel blog in the new year.
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