© Mr Michael Perry
THE VICARS' HALL INCLUDING NUMBER 28, VICARS' CLOSE (south side)
WELLS, MENDIP, SOMERSET
Mr Michael Perry
07 November 2007
12 November 1953
Date of last amendment:
12 November 1953
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ST5445 VICARS' CLOSE
662-1/7/337 (South side)
12/11/53 The Vicars' Hall including No.28
Assembly and dining hall for the Vicars Choral. Completed
1348, being built for Bishop Ralph. Slightly extended by JM
Parker in mid C19. Local coursed rubble stone with Doultig
ashlar dressings, Welsh slate roof between stepped coped
EXTERIOR: 2 storeys. North elevations of 5 bays, of which bay
4 projects as the staircase/Chequer tower. At ground floor
level there is a 4-centre moulded-arched throughway to bays 1
and 2; bay 3 has a small 2-light flat headed window with
transom; bay 5 has a pointed-arched doorway with a 3-light
flat-headed window over. First floor has an oriel window to
bay 1, with a 4-light sub-arcuated transomd window, below
which are 4 shield panels, with parapet above; right of this
is a canopied statue niche and then two 2-light
curvilinear-traceried windows with moulded reveals and no
labels; bay 5 has a 3-light oriel of simpler detail than that
to bay 1, and which represents a small addition of c1862.
Tower projects forward for 3 bays, with corner buttresses to
less than half-height, string course and battlemented parapet.
At ground-floor level is a pointed moulded archway with side
columns and capitals to middle order, with rectangular slit
window over at mezzanine level, and at first-floor level is a
2-light perpendicular- traceried pointed arched window without
label, part of a small early C15 addition over the stairway.
In the SW corner of the tower wing, at junction with main
block, is a small octagonal service stair turret, with
pyramidal roof. In east return of stair tower a matching porch
arch, then 3-non-glazed 2-light windows up line of stairs,
small rectangular window under stairs, and three 2-light
windows set under slight lower return parapet.
South elevation to St Andrew Street in similar style, but the
second bay from left is now obscured by the Chain Gate (qv),
added in 1459, the through passage arch divided into
pedestrian and waggon arches, with timber gate to the former
and wrought-iron gate, probably C19, to latter. The upper
windows are matching 2-light curvilinear-traceried windows,
with timber gate to the former and wrought-iron gate probably
C19, to latter. The upper windows are matching 2-light
curvilinear-traceried windows, with an oriel at the east end.
INTERIOR: throughway has a lierne vault, with pointed arched
doorways in centre of east wall and south end of west wall.
The ground-floor rooms occupied by the Freemasons, formerly
the store-room and cellar, walls and ceilings said to have
been decorated by William Burges.
The staircase porch has a lierne, almost fan, vault, and there
is a pair of C18 gates across the bottom of the stone steps,
which have a heavy wall-mounted handrail, possibly medieval.
The main hall has a plain wooden barrel roof with pilaster
panels, the windows have 4-centred rere arches and contain
some original stained glass, other early features are the
fireplace, with a painting over of medieval date, two wood
statues of apparently C14 date on the east wall, wall
panelling possibly C15/C16, a large bread bin fitting probably
of 1348, medieval benches and two restoration tables. The
adjoining kitchen has a stone floor, and retains the spit and
a Somerset stone sink.
Over the staircase, the Chequer room has an arch-braced collar
truss roof with curved windbraces, probably of c1420-1440,
features include a fireplace enlarged in c1500, a piscina, a
cupboard and a seal-chest, the windows, unglazed until 1912,
retain their wooden shutters.
Opening off this is the Muniment room with the c1420 filing
cabinets, in which all the drawers are of slightly different
shape/size so that none could be replaced in wrong position.
Steane refers to other surviving examples of medieval
"armoires" at St George's, Windsor Castle and at Winchester
(Colchester LS: Wells Cathedral: London: 1987-; Steane J: The
Archaeology of Medieval England and Wales: London: 1985-).