Free Weekly Walks (Saturdays and Wednesdays)
Wells Cathedral’s FREE 20 minute weekly stained glass, stone carvings and embroidery walks take place most Wednesdays and Saturdays from April to October.
We offer a different theme each month. No booking is required; please join our Guide by the Donation Desk in our Entry Cloister to begin the tour of your choice.
Stone Carvings (10.40am)
Wells Cathedral is famous for several reasons, but especially for its remarkable medieval stone carvings. Here we have figures, heads, stories, scenes of medieval life, monuments, many Green Men, and both natural and mythical creatures. Do come and see for yourself some of this fascinating collection. (Binoculars are recommended and on some dates essential for full enjoyment).
|April – “Medieval Monuments”
See the richly varied memorials carved in stone and marble, which reflect the colourful and eventful lives of the medieval bishops.
|May – “Stories in Stone”
A thief caught red-handed, a martyred king , and scenes from the Bible; learn about those stories and others amongst the Wells carvings.
|June – “Life in the Country”
From a market scene to problems with toothache, and from lead miners to pedlars, the stones paint a graphic picture of medieval rural life. Come and experience it.
|July – “The West Front”—“A Sermon in Stone”
When you look up at the West Front of the Cathedral, you are feasting your eyes on one of the greatest collections of medieval sculptures in the western world. It is not only the Bible in stone, but also an attempted history of the world. Let us explain it to you.
|August – “All Creatures Great and Small”
Lurking in corners, peering out of the pillar foliage, and even on tombs, there is a veritable menagerie of animals and birds amongst the carvings. Come and see our stone zoo.
|Sept – “Mythical Creatures”
Wyverns, griffins, dragons, and grotesques can all be found in our Cathedral, often alongside carvings of natural creatures. Let us find them for you.
|Oct – “Green Men”
Green Men stare down at us from all parts of the Cathedral. They sometimes seem benevolent, and sometimes malevolent. Come and be introduced to them. (Binoculars needed)
Stained Glass (11.10am)
Wells Cathedral has an important collection of both medieval and later stained glass, arguably some of the very best in England. It dates from the late 1200s to the 1930s and includes a large Jesse Window in the Quire and several large windows from the 1800s and 1900s.
One of the Cathedral’s specialist Guides will give a Window Walk on one or two related windows, pointing out details in the glass and giving the background story of the figures depicted. Binoculars are useful though not essential.
|April – “The Great West Window”
The stained glass dates from the 1660s and the 1930s, and shows the Transfiguration of Christ with disciples Peter, James and John, flanked by the Old Testament figures Moses and Elijah.
|May – “The Beloved Bishop Ken”
The stained glass dates from the 1800s showing the Bishop in the centre, in his full Bishop’s dress, surrounded by stories from the Bible and his life.
|June – “Virtue”
Four of the seven Virtues are shown with their symbols, including Fortitude slaying a fearsome dragon.
|July – “The Jesse – A Work Of Art”
One of the finest surviving examples of stained glass painting from the 1300s, using pot metal glass of a highly lustrous quality.
|August – “Love And Devotion”
An early 20th century window depicting the Old Testament story of Ruth, the devoted daughter-in-law of Naomi.
|Sept – “Legends Related To St John The Evangelist”
An exploration of the stained glass in St Katherine’s Chapel, dating from the 1500s, which portrays some of the numerous stories about the miracles performed by St John the Evangelist.
|Oct – “Turning Silver Into Gold”
A comparison of the delicacy of silver stain in the 14th century depicting the Coronation of the Virgin and its exuberant development in the St John window of the 1900s.
Wells Cathedral Quire contains over a hundred beautiful embroideries from the mid 20th century, which tell stories relating to Bishops, local history, saints and legends. Knowledgeable guides will show you some of the treasures in these twenty minute free taster tours.
|April – “From Penance to Joy”
A close look at the altar frontals for Lent and Easter
|May – “King’s Bishop, Soldier, Spy”
A Civil War hero and an undercover agent
|June – “An Outstanding Embroiderer”
Leonora Jenner’s work on the Cathedra and elsewhere
|July – “The Calm Before the Storm”
Two Bishops in an unsettled period
|August – “Stones and Stitches”
Embroideries inspired by carvings
|Sept – “Two Early Tudor Bishops”
The contrasting lives of Bishops Fox and King
|Oct – “A Medieval Feast”
Culinary references in the embroideries
For more in-depth tours why not consider one of the special interest tours we run on specific dates throughout the year? Or talk to our Visits team about booking guided tour for your group. Click here for more information or call 01749 671663.