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The magnificent Wells Cathedral lays fair claim to being the first complete Gothic cathedral in the country © Richard Melichar, Shutterstock
Wells is England’s smallest city by virtue of its resplendent cathedral, which presides over a neat kernel of time-skewed medieval buildings.
After the City of London (which let’s face it doesn’t really count), Wells is England’s smallest city by virtue of its resplendent cathedral, which presides over a neat kernel of time-skewed medieval buildings. The Bishop’s Palace and Vicar’s Close complete an exceptional ecclesiastical enclave, though not to be outdone are a number of less conspicuous treasures, some of which I stumbled upon entirely by accident. All in all Wells and Slow make for happy bedfellows, and yet despite the crowds – and it can get very busy in summer – the place rarely feels overwhelmed. Small it may be, but this city packs quite a punch.
Wells first came to prominence under the Romans, who were drawn to the area by the natural springs, before the Anglo-Saxons held sway, initially under King Ine of Wessex who established a minster church here some time in the early 8th century. Indeed, the history and development of the city is irrevocably bound up with that of the cathedral and its bishops, none more so than Thomas Bekynton (c1390–1465) who was responsible for much of what you see today.