We took a little trip to Wells yesterday. It's one of my favourite places to visit, but since moving a little north of Bristol it's not somewhere I go regularly any more. It's the smallest city in England, and above is a glimpse of the cathedral from beside the moat that surrounds the Bishop's Palace.
Above you can see a little of the Bishop's Palace beyond the wall. It was built in the early 1200's. The gatehouse, on the left below, was built in the early 1300's.
The Cathedral itself was mostly constructed between 1175 and 1490, and is quite stunning. To get there you must walk through this porch.
And there it is.
But what I really wanted to show you is a little further on, hidden away. You need to go through the arch in the above photo. Then under another porch.
And you find yourself in Vicars' Close, the the oldest complete residential street in Europe. I love this little street so much. I like to try and imagine all those who have walked along it over the years since it was built for choral vicars to live in, in 1363. Their job was to chant divine service some eight times each day.
The width of the street is tapered, so that from this end it looks further to the end than it actually is. From the other end, it looks shorter.
The building you can see at the end was built in the early 1400s and was a chapel downstairs and library upstairs.
We turned around at the end and wandered back. It was quite hard to suppress the normal exuberance of the little people, but you do feel like you should be hushed here. The houses are still residential and occupied. The residents are no doubt used to visitors with cameras, but we did try to be quiet and respectful.
The other end is the oldest bit - a common hall, storeroom, kitchen and bakeroom, completed in 1348.
And that was Wells. Today we went to the coast where there was more scope for running,jumping, climbing and beachcombing. Boys spontaneously combust if you expose them to too much quiet history. There must be regular noise, dirt and sweating or things turn ugly. And more boy-friendly things are planned for this final precious week of the school holidays. But Saturday, that was for the grown-ups. Just occasionally it has to be.