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Wells Cathedral

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Wells Cathedral was built around 1175. It’s the smallest cathedral in England but nevertheless contains around 300 medieval statues and a host of other wonderful features.

Clock
The 1390 clock strikes every quarter hour, sending knights running in a circle above the clock face.

Scissor arches
Cracks once appeared in the lead covered wooden spire, and a set of beautiful scissor arches were installed as a solution. They’re often assumed to be recent additions, but William Joy designed and built them in 1313.

Vicars’ Close
Across the road from the cathedral is Vicars’ Close, a medieval close. Walking along the cobbled street, between two rows of grade one listed houses, built for the Vicars Choral in 1348, it’s possible to hear the talented students from Wells Cathedral Music School practising.

Now in need of conservation, it will be the focus of work over the next decade, in order to protect its unique character.

Library
The Cathedral Library, featured in Murder at the Cathedral, lives inside the building. It was built in the fifteenth century, and is reached by a staircase from the East Cloister.

In the carefully temperature-controlled library, shelves house rows of books, many published before 1800.

Here’s an excerpt from Murder at the Cathedral, the fourth Exham on Sea story, in which the librarian describes the library to Libby Forest, the amateur sleuth…

Early copies of the King James version of the Bible, illuminated manuscripts from the sixteenth century, books of maps, translations of religious books into different languages. All that sort of thing….

Some of the books are attached to chains. You see, one end of the chain is attached to the book and the other end to the shelf. The position of the chain makes it easy to pull the book from the shelf and read it, but it prevents people borrowing a book, wandering away with it, and forgetting to bring it back.’

‘Like forgetting to return library books?’

‘Exactly. You’d be amazed at the number of upright citizens with old library books in their houses; books they should have returned years ago. Well, the canons of the 17th century were just as bad. Hence the chain.

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