© Mr John H. Sparkes
GATEHOUSE AND BOUNDARY WALL WITH BRIDGE OVER MOAT, BISHOP'S PALACE
WELLS, MENDIP, SOMERSET
Mr John H. Sparkes
01 August 2007
12 November 1953
Date of last amendment:
31 May 2000
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ST5445 BISHOP'S PALACE
662-1/7/7 Gatehouse and boundary wall with
12/11/53 bridge over moat
(Formerly Listed as:
(including Gatehouse and Walls...))
Wall with corner towers and gatehouse, surrounded by moat.
c1341 (date of license to Crenellate) by Bishop Ralph of
Shrewsbury. Local stone rubble with ashlar copings and other
dressings, average 5m high.
PLAN: irregular, with 6 bastion towers, that to the NW,
sometimes referred to as the prison, has a small but lofty
room, with apsidal W end, and looks more like a small chapel;
it has stone tablets with the decalogue set high on the walls.
The gatehouse lies on the N side.
The wall is boldly crenellated with some arrowslits.
Part of the N side is incorporated in that part of the
Bishop's Palace (qv) presently known as Bishop's House.
The gatehouse in random rubble with Doulting stone dressings
with lead flat roof behind crenellated parapets.
EXTERIOR: 3 storeys, the gateway bay flanked by two
rectangular towers with corners chamfered on north side.
Towers have mostly arrowslits to ground and first floors, but
east face of east tower has a 2-light mullioned window with
square label (under which is the Swans' Bell), the N face has
a circular cinquefoil window, and to the NE corner an angled
oriel window at first floor level of 1+2+2+1 lights, with
moulded base and reeded frieze to a lead flat roof.
The centre gateway has a 4-centre arch in a rectangular recess
with carved spandrels, part of the portcullis and the chains
of the drawbridge (now connected to a modern fixed bridge)
remain, arch has a pair of possibly C14 gates with an inserted
wicket of c1600. Above this a single lancet with cusped window
set deep inside.
Inside the gateway is a quadripartite ribbed vault with short
spring shafts, and carved head boss and corbels.
In E wall of this space a small oriel window, presumably for
the gatekeeper. Side doors in the projection of the towers
south of the minor gate arch.
INTERIOR: not inspected.
The enclosing wall with its moat helps to provide what Pevsner
(op cit) calls an "...exquisite beauty of setting...".
(Buildings of England: Pevsner N: North Somerset and Bristol:
London: 1958-: 314; Colchester LS: Wells Cathedral: A History:
Shepton Mallet: 1982-: 227-244).