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© Mr Michael Perry

IoE Number: 483620
Photographer: Mr Michael Perry
Date Photographed: 07 November 2007
Date listed: 12 November 1953
Date of last amendment: 12 November 1953
Grade I

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WELLS ST5445 VICARS' CLOSE 662-1/7/337 (South side) 12/11/53 The Vicars' Hall including No.28 GV I 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 gables. PLAN: T-plan. 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 College. (Colchester LS: Wells Cathedral: London: 1987-; Steane J: The Archaeology of Medieval England and Wales: London: 1985-).

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