The 10 Best Things to do in Wells Somerset, England

Pastel houses in Wells centre

Wells is a small cathedral city in England located at the southern foot of the Mendip Hills. In fact, it is the smallest city in England with only a remarkable 12,000 residents. How is it a city then? Because it is home to the beautiful and famous 13th-century Cathedral. Wells is full of historic buildings that have kept their charm and it still has a moated palace. Wells name comes from the three wells throughout the city dedicated to St. Andrew. Meanwhile, if you’re in Somerset, Wells definitely needs to be on your radar. Therefore, I am sharing my top 10 best things to do in Wells.

1. Wells Cathedral

Wells Cathedral

This is the first Gothic cathedral in England. As a result, Wells Cathedral is famous for its unique architecture. It features hundreds of medieval carvings, beautiful fourteenth-century scissor arches and was made from the local limestone in the Doulting quarry. You can also book a guided tour or a group tour of this magnificent piece of history. As of June 2021, it was undergoing restoration works, but this does not take away from its amazing architecture.

Note: Wells Cathedral is open to all visitors. Opening times are 7am-4pm Mon-Sat, and 12pm-2pm Sunday.

2. Vicars’ Close

Right next to Wells Cathedral is Vicars’ Close. It is without a doubt the most interesting Close you will ever walk down. The houses in Vicars’ Close were built in the 14th century to house the Vicars Choral, who, during their residence, sang every day within the Cathedral. Believe it or not, this age-old tradition still continues today, making Vicars’ Close the only complete medieval street left in England. Wow! Fun fact: the chimneys were added in the 15th century.

Vicars' Close

Actually, all of the buildings are Grade I listed buildings and in fact, originally there were 42 houses. Once vicars were allowed to marry, some houses were consequently combined. Now there are 27 houses, the library, treasury, a chapel and a muniment room. If you look closely at the Chain Gate Bridge, you’ll also spot the dining hall! To this day the only residents of Vicars’ Close are all 12 choral, the virgers and the organists. For this reason, this truly is an incredible street! The Wells choir is even recognised as a world-class choir!

Top Tip: Visit early to beat the crowd!

3. The Bishops Palace and Gardens

Firstly, this medieval palace is well worth the visit! Secondly, a moat surrounds the palace and you can enter the palace via a drawbridge and explore the beautiful architecture, or sit at the cafe and admire the grounds. Finally, it is free to walk around the grounds but you will need to pay to go to the palace or visit the gardens.

Wells Moated Palace

4. Wells Market Place

If you like street food and authentic vendors then you need to visit the Wells Market. We visited during a busy Saturday and there was so much to see. Tons of shops to go in and experience the local vibe as well as restaurants with outside dining.

5. Mendip Hospital Cemetery

The Mendip Hospital was founded back in 1848 as a Lunatic Asylum (I’m serious) and has been closed since 1991. After nearly 30 years, in 1873, volunteers bought a piece of meadow to use as the cemetery. Meanwhile, to this day, the ‘friends of Mendip Hospital Cemetery’ a loyal charity, work to preserve the area. Sadly, many people buried here were buried anonymously. The cemetery is very interesting to visit and you can view the restored chapel as well as learn about the history of the ‘lunatic asylum’. It is open most days 10-4 pm. However, definitely check in advance!

6. Wells and Mendip Museum

Founded in 1893 by Herbert Balch, the Wells Museum is home to local artefacts that were discovered during his caving and geology days. Discover the incredible history of cave exploration and experience the First World War trench. You can read more about the Mendip Hills and visiting the caves on my Cheddar Gorge blog post here. In short, if you’re coming all the way to Wells, you really do need to visit Cheddar.

7. The Old Deanery

The Old Deanery

Just a short walk from the Cathedral, the Deanery will greet you with a large burgundy door. Then, behind the tall walls, you will find a 16th-century herb garden and various 15th-century outbuildings. When we visited in June 2021 it was not open to visitors and we learnt that it was currently up for sale! I do hope that it stays belonging to the people of Wells as it really completes the architecture and historic buildings.

8. St Cuthbert’s Church

Would you believe this Grade I listed building is often mistaken as Wells Cathedral? So, admittedly, for half a second we made this mistake too! It’s fascinating as you walk up to it and has a beautiful stone tower that dates back to the 13th-century. Due to it being made of comparable somerset stone as the cathedral, it’s no wonder why people make this mistake!

9. Ebbor Gorge

Known as a ‘mini Cheddar’, Ebbor Gorge is a limestone gorge that is part of the National Trust. It takes around 2 hours to complete this walk and as a result has a ‘moderate’ rating. For sat-nav purposes, you will need this address: Deerleap, Wookey Hole, Wells BA5 1AY

10. Milton Lodge Gardens

Okay, you got me. Milton Lodge Gardens are technically just outside of Wells, but they are definitely worth visiting! In fact, the garden is a Grade II listed garden. I mean, how amazing is that!? The garden started around 1900 by a man named Charles Tudway and since then the gardens are run by his great-grandson. Wow! The garden is on a slope and has terraces that showcase the views of the Wells Cathedral. The gardens are open from April to October usually between 2-5 pm every Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday and Bank Holidays but I would definitely recommend checking dates before you go!

Interested in a Moat Walk of Wells? Use this handy FREE map!

Finally, looking for more information on what to do in Somerset? Then check out their instagram @visitsomersetuk

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So to recap, here are the 10 Best Things to do in Wells, Somerset

  • Wells Cathedral
  • Vicars’ Close
  • Bishop’s Palace and Gardens
  • Wells Market Place
  • Mendip Hospital Cemetery
  • Wells and Mendip Museum
  • The Old Deanery
  • St Cuthbert’s Church
  • Ebbor Gorge
  • Milton Lodge Gardens

10 Comments

  1. 23 June 2021 / 9:44 PM

    This is such a beautiful historic town to visit! I would love to visit the cathedral, and the palace looks amazing too!

    • 24 June 2021 / 4:52 PM

      Thank you, Krista! It is a lovely place to spend the weekend if you like historic buildings. The Cathedral was definitely amazing!

  2. 25 June 2021 / 9:11 AM

    Wow! This is so pretty! I’ve never been to the England countryside, but I would love to go!

    • 26 June 2021 / 7:40 AM

      There are so many beautiful spots in the countryside! Definitely worth taking a trip to see a few of them. Wells is so beautiful, perfect for a mini weekend away!

  3. 25 June 2021 / 10:46 AM

    Ebbor Gorge looks positively stunning! I’d love to do that hike and try Cheddar afterwards.

    • 26 June 2021 / 7:45 AM

      It is a gorgeous view once you get to the top and the hike is well worth it! You’ll also have the BEST cheese (if you eat cheese) if you visit Cheddar!

  4. 25 June 2021 / 3:38 PM

    I always love seeing the old and beautiful buildings in England! Wells doesn’t disappoint, and is definitely on my list of places to go too!

    • 26 June 2021 / 7:41 AM

      It is such a historic place! You will have to do the moat walk if you do get a chance to visit!

  5. Tjasa
    25 June 2021 / 11:31 PM

    What a historical city to visit! Never heard of it before but will keep my eye on it.

    • 26 June 2021 / 7:42 AM

      Hi Tjasa, I agree! I’d never heard of it before either. It was full of history and the buildings were beautiful. We felt like we were on a mini holiday abroad! Definitely check it out if you can one day.

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