The Long Eighteenth Century

Bishop Kidder, who replaced the much-loved Thomas Ken when he was deprived of the bishopric, was killed during the Great Storm on the night of 26 November 1703. A chimney stack crashed through the roof of the palace, crushing the bishop and his lady in their bed. The remainder of the century and well into the next saw a period of gentle decline and drift, punctuated by periods of activity. The canons were well-connected, well-educated, well-off and scholarly in their interests; Bishop Hooper, Kidder’s successor, for instance, was a noted Arabic scholar.

In the first quarter of the century, the great bell called Harewell, the fifth heaviest ringing bell in the world, was re-cast and a small cupola built on top of the central tower to house a new hour-bell. In 1732 action was taken to repair the roof of the nave, but the most obvious changes to the interior of the cathedral came in 1740 under Dean Crewicke, when seating was added to the quire for the use of the mayor and aldermen of Wells and three new galleries built above the stalls to accommodate the wives and families of the canons.