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Wells is a cathedral city and civil parish in the Mendip district of Somerset, England, on the southern edge of the Mendip Hills. Although the population recorded in the 2001 census is 10,406, it has had city status since 1205. It is the second smallest English city in terms of area and population after the City of London although, unlike the latter, Wells is not part of a larger metropolitan conurbation, and is consequently described in some sources as being England's smallest city.
|OS Settlement Classification||City|
|Police Authority||Avon and Somerset|
|Fire and Rescue Authority||Devon and Somerset|
|Fire and Rescue Authority||Devon and Somerset|
|Ambulance Authority||South Western|
Other names by which Wells has been known in the past
Fontanensis Ecclesia ~ Fonticuli ~ Thodorodunum ~ Welles ~ Wellie ~ Wells Forum ~ Wels ~ Welve ~ Wielia ~ Welle ~ Wella
Wells in John Bartholomew's "Gazetteer of the British Isles" (1887)
Wells, mun. bor. and ancient city, Somerset, at foot of Mendip hills, 6 miles NE. of Glastonbury and 19 SW. of Bath by rail, 726 ac., pop. 4634; P.O., T.O., 2 Banks, 1 newspaper. Market-days, Wednesday and Saturday. Wells took its name from the numerous springs in the vicinity. It originated in a collegiate church founded in 704. The diocese of Bath and Wells comprehends all Somerset except Bedminster. The cathedral and the Episcopal palace are at Wells. The cathedral is a magnificent structure, in the Early English style. The Episcopal palace is a castellated building of ancient date, surrounded by a wall and moat. Wells has breweries, flour and paper mills, and brush manufactories, but its trade is principally agricultural. It was first chartered by King John, and was made a mun. bor. by Queen Elizabeth; it returned 2 members to Parliament from the time of Edward I. until 1867-1868.
Wells in "A Topographical Dictionary of England" edited by Samuel Lewis (1848)
WELLS, a city, having separate jurisdiction, and the head of a union, locally in the hundred of Wells-Forum, E. division of Somerset, 19 miles (S. W.) from Bath, 19 (S.) from Bristol, and 120 (W. by S.) from London; containing, with that part of St. Cuthbert's parish, which is without the limits of the city, 7050 inhabitants. This place derives its name from its numerous springs, more particularly from St. Andrew's well, the water of which, rising near the episcopal palace, flows through the south-western part of the city. It owes its origin to Ina, King of the West Saxons, who, in 704, founded a collegiate church, which he dedicated to St. Andrew the Apostle. This establishment was endowed by Cynewulf, one of his successors, with considerable estates in the vicinity, in 766, and continued to flourish till 905, when, in pursuance of an edict of Edward the Elder, for the revival of religion, which, from the frequent incursions of the Danes, had almost become extinct, several new bishops were consecrated by Pligmund. Archbishop of Canterbury, of whom Aldhelm, then abbot of Glastonbury, was chosen to preside over Wells, which was erected into a see having jurisdiction over the entire county of Somerset. After a succession of twelve bishops, Giso, chaplain to Edward the Confessor, was appointed to the see, to which that monarch gave the extensive possessions of Harold, Earl of Wcssex, whom, with his father Godwin, Earl of Kent, he had banished from the kingdom. Harold, during his exile, made an incursion into this part of Somersetshire, raised contributions on his former tenantry, despoiled the church of its ornaments and treasure, expelled the canons, and converted the revenues to his own use. Giso, on his return from Rome, where he had been consecrated, obtained some compensation for these injuries from the queen, who was Harold's sister; but that prince, on his restoration to favour, procured the banishment of Giso, and, upon his subsequent accession to the throne, resumed all the estates granted by Edward to the church, and thus greatly impoverished the see. Bishop Giso remained in exile till the Conquest, when he was reinstated; and William, in the second year of his reign, restored to the bishopric all Harold's estates, with the exception of some small portions which had been granted to the monastery of Glastonbury, adding in lieu of them, two other manors. Giso exerted himself in augmenting the income of his see: he increased the number of canons, over whom he appointed a provost; built a cloister, hall, and dormitory; and enlarged and embellished the cathedral choir. Some of the buildings, however, were demolished by his successor, John de Villula, who erected a palace on their site.
Seal and Arms.
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