Wells…Capturing History

Nick and Ani 073

It is a goodly while since I was last at Wells Cathedral in Somerset. Three years, when I think…Back then I took fewer photographs…though my friend still commented upon quite how many… Now, of course, I hate cathedrals… but only bacause I would need to be there for a week with the camera to do these wonderful stories in stone full justice.

Nick and Ani 080

Wells has been described as being one of the most beautiful and poetic cathedrals in Engalnd. Certainly it is one of the most pleasing, being almost entirely built in a single style when seen from the facade. The orginal church is long gone, a structure built in 705AD and replaced nearly five hundred years later by the current cathedral. The original font, however, still stands in the cathedral, a beautiful link with those whose faith had built the first church here some 1300 years ago.

Nick and Ani 079

Begun around 1175, Wells is thought to be the first example of pure Early English Gothic architecture in Europe. The facade is completely covered with statues and niches for those damaged through the years and changes in worship. many still bear traces of paint and the colour scheme can be determined from these, allowing specialists to recreate in virtual  terms a vision of what the frontage would have looked like long ago. The facade has statues arranged in nine areas, with The main gable holds a scene of Judgement, with the Virgin and the Baptist beside him, below there are the Twelve Apostles, and beneath them nine archangels. It must have looked incredible to medieval eyes. Now, though, it is all mellow stone and the Four Holy Creatures silently guard the door.

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The interior is as spectacular as the outside. For once, however, it was not the architecture that I remember with the greatest clarity, but the clear soprano voice of my friend raised in song in the fabulous acoustics of the Chapter House with its delicate pillar and ceiling, and later the choir, at Evensong for which we stayed.

Wells Cathedral (1)

Yet, looking back, I saw… and missed… so much. Not through lack of interest, but through lack of experience and knowledge. I knew so little then in comparison to what I have learned of these places over the past three years. I’d had no reason to know before… the Silent Eye had but barely come into being… I was yet to meet up again with Stuart and begin our journey into the landscape and history of these isles and we could not have guessed that those adventures would lead us to write so many books together.

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I had little idea at all about stained glass, was completely unaware of the fact that the Jesse window is in exceptional condition for something that dates back to 1320AD. I didn’t realise back then the significance of an 8thC font or even recognise that the great internal scissor arches, added to support the ‘crossing’ and prevent it from collapsing are in the shape of a St Andrew’s cross, the patron saint of the cathedral. I certainly would never have guessed that these beautiful curves were the product of such an early time, being built by master mason William Joy in around 1329…

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In fact, I probably need to go back… one of these days. Not that it would be a hardship… there is so much to see. And never enough time to see all that we would like. Which is why Ed Mooney is encouraging us to share photographs of our heritage in his Capturing History Challenge. Do take a look… this week there are photographs from locations as diverse as Ireland and consider sharing your own photographs.

Wells Cathedral (2)

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
This entry was posted in Ancient sites, Art, England, Photography, Stuart France and Sue Vincent and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to Wells…Capturing History

  1. roweeee says:

    Thanks Sue for this wonderful virtual tour of this incredible Cathedral. For an Australian, the age of this place is just staggering. We revere our buildings from the early colonial days, and 1850 is looking pretty good. That said, our Aboriginal heritage dates way back thousands of years but this is often left out of the equation and we are considered a young country.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      My pleasure to share, Rowena. The anthropological heritage of most countries goes back much further than we generally realise, looking mainly at our own civilisation and not those that may have preceded it. I think that in Britain we are lucky, being such a small place with so much ancient heritage still standing, we can barely help falling over it, so a few thousand years is fairly familiar.

      Liked by 1 person

      • roweeee says:

        I lived in Heidelberg in Germany for 8 months back in 1992 and it was such an incredible thing to live in a town with a real castle and actual Roman ruins. I would love to be tripping over such incredible old architecture. It would be incredible but at least I can do it vicariously thanks to people like yourself xx Rowena


  2. oshrivastava says:

    Reblogged this on oshriradhekrishnabole and commented:
    Amazing amazing legacy of beauty


  3. amreade says:

    Reblogged this on Reade and Write and commented:
    Sue Vincent has posted some beautiful photos and thoughts from Wells Cathedral in Somerset, England. As a tour guide kept telling us Americans on our trip to England last summer, “now THAT’S history!”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. amreade says:

    Just incredible. I second Rowena’s thoughts: in the US, we consider ourselves a fairly “young” country, though there were people here for thousands of years before the land was colonized. We often don’t hear enough and learn enough about those people. Thanks for sharing. I’m reblogging this on http://www.amreade.wordpress.com.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fantastic images and structure, I am still awestruck at how these buildings were constructed, Thanks for sharing Sue 🙂


  6. What an enchanting place! Another great tour, Sue. I am always boggled by the dates these buildings were built. Amazing!! ❤


  7. Eliza Waters says:

    The architecture is spellbinding and to think of its age, a marvel. So wonderful that you share these places with us and the noteworthy details. Many thanks!


  8. What stunning architecture, just gorgeous. I’m amazed at these colossal pieces of art and how they were built without the modern technology. Your photos are great but my guess is that nothing is quite the same as being there.


  9. Ritu says:

    What a beautiful cathedral! Thanks for the virtual tour Sue!


  10. Great shots. I adore exploring cathedrals.


  11. noelleg44 says:

    This cathedral, even in pictures, took my breath away. Thanks for your wonderful photography! Another place to add to my list of new things to see the next time we’re in England, Amazing to see a cathedral completely in one style – I’m more used to seeing churches like St. Vitus in Prague, where you can see the architectural changes over the centuries.


  12. jenanita01 says:

    I have always wanted to have a look around Well’s cathedral, such a beautiful place. Thank you for the trip, Sue…


  13. Really magnificent, Sue.


  14. macjam47 says:

    Sue, your photos of this gorgeous architectural achievement are beautiful The explanations of the features are wonderful. Thank you for sharing this.


  15. D.G.Kaye says:

    Beautiful tour of architecture here Sue. BTW Sue, can you please tell me if I’m subscribed to your blog or following? In my mission to reorganize, and with WP being unreliable in my reader, I don’t want to duplicate a subscribe. Although it seems I do wind up here for almost all of your posts, I’m not sure if I come through another’s repost of yours or not. Lol, sorry for confusion. 🙂


    • Sue Vincent says:

      Hi Debby, I can’t find you on the subscriber list ( which I wish WP would make searchable!). The easiest way to check subscriptions/follows is through your Reader…Reader>Following>Settings brings up a list of blogs you follow… and beneath each blog in the list (which you can alphabetise) is an option to edit if and when you get emails/notifications for that blog. 🙂


  16. Norma says:

    Wow! This is magnificent, Sue. Thanks for the virtual tour.


  17. Helen Jones says:

    What a beautiful place – it must be quite breathtaking in person! Another place to add to the ‘must visit’ list (which is getting longer every day!)


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