The Bishop’s Palace, Wells, Somerset, England, is adjacent to Wells Cathedral and has been the home of the Bishops of the Diocese of Bath and Wells for 800 years. It is also the place where my maternal grandmother, Ivy Agnes Edwards, was employed as a domestic servant.
Part of the buildings are still used as a residence by the current bishop, however much of the palace is now used for public functions. Recently ambitious plans were announced by The Bishop of Bath and Wells, Reverend Peter Price, to establish the Palace as one of the region’s leading tourist attractions.
The Bishop’s Palace already attracts around 40,000 visitors every year. Plans include improved facilities for disabled people, school groups and the local community. The development features a new ticket office, a cafe, an education room, a lift to the first floor, a rampart walk and a shop with an audio guide pickup point.
There will also be a boating platform – the starting point for summer trips around the moat – a bridge over the well pool, an outdoor stage for music and drama, a treasury exhibition and a community garden where volunteers will be invited to help restore the tradition of produce gardens at the palace. The proposal also includes a Garden of Reflection and a platform where visitors can watch the swans ring the bell to ask for food.
The Palace Trustees are seeking funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Subject to funding and planning permission, it is hoped that work will start in spring 2010