Wells' Bishop's Palace

An original watercolour by Matthew Grayson of
 The Bishop's Palace at Wells, England

Medium : Watercolour, Acrylic and Graphite on board

Original Painting Size : width 560 mm x height 360 mm
(Original finished work will be permanently displayed at The Bishop's Palace in Wells) 

15 Signed, Artist's Proofs All Sold
Signed, Limited Edition Prints 
Some still remaining for sale
Unsigned Prints Available
Commercial User Images 


Once described as "The most memorable of all Bishop's Palaces in England" by the architectural historian Pevsner, the Palace developed around the medieval residence of Bishop Jocelin Trotman (1206), the first Bishop to hold the title of Bath and Wells.

Granted land by King John, to the south of Wells Cathedral and Saint Andrew's stream (The Moat), Bishop Jocelin built a residence in order to have an important supply of fresh meat - a deer park.

He was the first of five bishops whose building work still stands to this day.

Central to the present complex of buildings is Bishop Jocelin's first-floor hall.

In 1443, Bishop Thomas Beckington demolished the north side defensive walls, to add another wing, with a medieval hall, domestic accommodation and the Virgin's Tower.

Smaller in size than Bishop Jocelin's, the two rooms have had numerous uses over the centuries.

After world war II (1945), there were no living-in servants, so Bishop William Bradfield (1946) modernised the wing for home and offices for the bishop, his family and staff.

South of Jocelin's hall stands the Bishop's chapel. Dedicated to St Mark and the Holy Trinity, this private chapel is still in use as a house of prayer and celebration of Holy Communion.

The chapel was originally thought to have been two storeys and joined by a cloister to the other buildings surrounding a quadrangle.

Robert Burnell - the Chancellor to King Edward I, rebuilt Bishop Jocelin’s chapel in 1275.

The Bishop's chapel presently links Jocelin's first floor hall with the ruins of Bishop Burnell's great hall.

In preparation for a royal visit by King Edward I (who failed to arrive), Bishop Burnell brought stone masons from his own castle at Acton Burnell in Shropshire to build the great hall.

When approached from the north side, entry was through an elaborate porch.

The great hall measures an impressive 35 metres long and 18 metres wide.

The interior would have been very elaborate, with encaustic stone floor tiles and breathtaking stained glass used on the main arched windows along the great hall walls.

The roof was of wooden beam and lead tile construction - where the lesser important windows are situated, stonemasons used local red and yellow Triasic sandstone as decoratively as possible - to compliment the rest of the aesthetics of the architecture.

The great hall was also used for judicial business when in1539 the trial of the last Abbot of Glastonbury - Richard Whiting and the abbey's treasurer John Thome took place.

The King’s commissioners tried them on November 15th 1539 for “robbery”

Found guilty, they were taken back to Glastonbury Abbey and were executed together with a young monk on Glastonbury Tor.

In 1547 King Henry VIII died, and as his son and heir Edward VI was just nine years of age, regents were appointed to rule.

Many of them acquired much church and monastic property, both legally and illegally.

Sir John Gates (a noted regent) purchased the timber and lead from the great hall's roof.

Despite escaping looting during this period of time, the hall fell into decay.

It was not until the nineteenth century when Bishop George Henry Law (1824) restored much of the medieval palace, that we are attracted to this present day.

In front of the Bishop's Palace lay its beautifully -maintained central lawn.

During the summer, the palace croquet club plays, adding to the serenity of this magnificent building and glorious gardens.

The garden spans 5.7 hectares and from the paths open to the public, one can see the 'palace vegetable gardens and allotments that are rented by the local residents.

One of the major attractions to the palace are the swans that swim upon the moat, surrounding the palace's fortifications.

For over 150 years, the swans have rung the bell situated on the outside of the gatehouse for food.

The very first swan to be trained to carry out this charming attraction is now exhibited in the city of Wells museum.

The Bishop's palace at Wells is available for private hire and ranks as one of the west country's leading venues for wedding receptions and other private events.
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