For my final presentation and tour guide assignment, I am going to be providing information on Wells Cathedral. Most of the information in this blog post and the tour guide assignment, will be coming from Dr. L’s book Wells Cathedral, which was “authorized by the Dean and Chapter of Wells (according to the front cover). This cathedral, which was started in the year 705 by Aldhelm, Bishop of Sherborne, has the roots of its heritage in the Saxon era of England. However, very unfortunately, there is only one item which represents the original church that was replaced in the late part of the twelfth century. That item is a very Saxon font that has been slightly modernized and does not have very much of what originally decorated the piece still there (p. 4).
More specifically, between 1174 and 1191 (during Reginald de Bohun’s reign as Bishop of Bath), what is now considered to be the Wells Cathedral started being built where it is now – on a part of the previous area the building stood. However, it was not until the mid-thirteenth century (1260, to be exact) that the building process was completed. Fortunately, worshipers were able to begin utilizing the church in 1239; new construction would begin on the building almost a hundred years later, in 1320 (p. 7).
According to http://www.wellscathedral.org.uk/history/timeline/, “Bishop’s Palace garden”‘s water holes are what initially drew people to settle in the area. Items from the Roman and Stone Age eras have been found in addition to a possibly Christian “Romano-British burial chamber,” which eventually held a “mortuary chapel” on top of it that the Saxons built. A minster church was started on this property in 705 when King Ine of Wessex gave the go-ahead. This church was settled where the cloisters are now – just south of where today’s cathedral sets. This is also where the chest and font of the Cathedral first were. When 909 came around, the cathedral came into existence as the Minster Church of St Andrew, which covered both Somerset and Wells, came to be a diocese after Sherborne’s diocese was broken up. French gothic-style blueprints were procured by de Bohun in 1175, and Wells Cathedral was built to be the first cathedral of this style in England. About 300 of the statues from the medieval period remain in the cathedral, and it took around 80 years for the first construction phase.
The website also goes on to say the three cloisters associated with the cathedral were first built in the 1200’s while the Chapter House was not completed until 1306. The cloisters were also updated in the 1400’s, and they now include a library and school. The end of the Chapter House’s (where business issues and dealings on the cathedral were taken care of) construction initiated the beginning of the expanse of the cathedral itself.
Between the 1200’s and 1300’s, the Virgin Mary was highly-regarded more than usual (even though the parishioners had looked to her from the start). However, the Lady Chapel, which is the spot in the cathedral, and many other cathedrals, to demonstrate to Jesus’ mother the integrity in which was her due (p. 13).
In 1209, when King John got on the pope’s bad side because of a disagreement, building the nave of the cathedral was halted for a little while (p. 16). The building, which had begun at the crossing of the church, halted due to the pope temporarily ending the use of churches in England as a result of the argument (p. 16).
Vicars (a synonym for “deputy”) have also been a part of life at Well’s Cathedral since the twelfth century (1348) when a dining hall/business area combination building and 42 homes were built by Bishop Ralph of Shrewsbury when he wanted to have a Vicar’s Choral. These men were talented singers who lived at the cathedral’s property and performed in services. However, they were not allowed to marry until all of the religious turmoil that came with the 1500’s. This is still a community that exists today. Choir members and the organist continue to live in Vicar’s Close with their families and participate every day in the musical life of the cathedral (p. 24).
Today, there are around 3,000 “friends” (so I’m assuming supporters – financial or otherwise) around the planet for Well’s Cathedral with mainly volunteers running the building with a few employees (p. 27).
Well, that is the briefest of outlines on the Cathedral from Dr. L’s book and http://www.wellscathedral.org.uk/history/timeline/. Over the next week I will be looking online for more information to present while in England. Below is an image of the Cathedral that I found at https://www.google.com/search?q=Wells+Cathedral&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjsl4uBr7bTAhXhxFQKHXjUBPUQ_AUICCgB&biw=1366&bih=662#imgrc=3ydlPqSSu5CkGM: after Googling an image of the building. The image leads to http://www.englishcathedrals.co.uk/cathedral/wells-cathedral/ which has more information and images on the Cathedral.