The tour I selected to give while studying abroad was, Wells Cathedral (Actually, Cathedral of St. Andrew in Wells). Bishop Reginald started the present cathedral in 1180, but most of the construction was overseen by Bishop Jocelyn. Wells Cathedral was the first cathedral to be built in Early English Gothic Style. The Cathedral was finished and dedicated in 1239 and granted cathedral status in 1245. The West Front, which was constructed from 1230-1239 was the final stage before dedication of the church. The Chapter House was constructed from 1255-1306. The Central Tower was built from 1313-1322, but due to weight 3 scissor arches had to be added from 1338-1348. The Lady Chapel was added to the East end and finished in 1326. The Southwest Tower was completed in 1394 followed by the Northwest Tower in 1436. This brings us to the present day structure of the Cathedral.
The amazing West Front measures approximately 100 feet high by 150 feet wide and contains over 500 sculptures. Only 300 of the originals are still intact. The remainder have been replaced with modern replicas. The West Front contains statues ranging from bible scenes of the New and Old Testament, saints, kings, and angels. The Apostles are just below Jesus at the center of the wall with the patron saint of the Cathedral, St. Andrew, in the middle. Jesus sits at the very top of the center facade flanked by Six-Winged Seraphim.
There are many decorated capitals and corbels on the pillars running down the Nave. Many of them have common scenes from medieval time. The Nave runs up to beautiful and extremely unique scissor arches of the Central Tower. On the west, east, and south sides of the Central Tower there are large scissor arches to support the once cracking and leaning Central Tower.
The most notable piece of medieval are is found in the Choir. The Jesse Window, which was finished in 1340 shows Jesus’s family tree. The Choir has beautifully vaulted ceilings and is home to the Cathedra, Bishop’s chair in the Choir.
The Lady Chapel was originally built as a separate structure off of the East end of the cathedral in 1326. Soon after the retro-choir was added to connect the Lady Chapel to the East end of the Choir. The Lady Chapel is an octagon shaped room with 5 large stain glass windows on the five eastern walls.
The Chapter House is also an octagon shaped room with windows on each wall. There are well-worn stairs leading out toward the Chapter House and Vicar’s Close. Inside the Chapter House are detailed rib vaulted ceilings with 32 shafts coming off of the central column.
Until Next Time,