The Archives comprise the records of the Dean and Chapter from the eleventh century to the present day. These illustrate the day-to-day running of the cathedral, with an emphasis on the management of cathedral property in Wells and manors and estates in Somerset, 1060s – 1860s, but include no personal or family papers of the canons or other people employed by the Cathedral.
Administrative and legal records survive from the 11th century, the oldest being a rare Papal letter of 1060.
Accounts and financial records survive from the late fourteenth century and are by no means as complete as the administrative ones. The most extensive part of the collection consists of the leases of Chapter property, running chiefly from the 17th century.
The Cathedral registers of baptisms, marriages and burials date from 1660 and there is also an extensive collection of plans and photographs.
The Archives also comprise the records of the College of Vicars Choral, 1348-1933, beginning with its foundation charter of 1348, and the records of Wells Old Almshouses, founded in the early 15th century, but with title deeds to its property from the thirteenth century.
The collection is fully catalogued, although not yet in electronic form. An out-of-date but still useful handlist of the archives can be obtained via the Archon Directory on the National Archives website: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/archon
Although we aren’t yet able to offer a search facility, our Archive Catalogue will enable researchers to get an initial indication of the collection we hold here. Please click on this link to access the catalogue.
The records are open to the public, but an appointment should be made in advance with the Archivist; please contact by email at [email protected] or by telephone on 01749 674483.
The postal address for the Archives is: Cathedral Offices, Chain Gate, Cathedral Green, Wells, BA5 2UE