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© Mr John H. Sparkes

IoE Number: 483262
Location: GATEHOUSE AND BOUNDARY WALL WITH BRIDGE OVER MOAT, BISHOP'S PALACE
  WELLS, MENDIP, SOMERSET
Photographer: Mr John H. Sparkes
Date Photographed: 01 August 2007
Date listed: 12 November 1953
Date of last amendment: 31 May 2000
Grade I

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WELLS ST5445 BISHOP'S PALACE 662-1/7/7 Gatehouse and boundary wall with 12/11/53 bridge over moat (Formerly Listed as: BISHOP'S PALACE (including Gatehouse and Walls...)) GV I 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).

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