Vicar's Close, Wells
Vicar's Close is found to the north side of the Cathedral and is, or claims to be the oldest residential street in Europe with almost all of it's buildings intact. It dates back to the 14th century. At the entry, there's a gatehouse with a hall in it and at the back end there's a building that houses a chapel and a library. It is still in use by the nearby Cathedral School.
Alterations have been made to the houses over the centuries, particularly after Vicars were allowed to marry after the Reformation took place. Some have extensions added on the back and a few have walls knocked out to make one larger house out of two though it's not apparent from the front. The gardens were walled in a number of years after the houses were built and apparently the back end of the cobbled street is narrower to make it look longer from the entrance.
If you love architecture as I do, you would enjoy a stroll down the short street, admiring the houses, the gates, the doors, the detailing on the houses and chimneys. You can actually rent number 14, which is next to the chapel. It's got four bedrooms and is let on a weekly basis. How cool would that be!? It would cost you between 600 to 900 pounds per week depending on time of year, I think. Information here
Vicar's Close is England's oldest row of terraced houses and Europe's oldest continuously inhabited medieval street, dating back to 1363. Every building looks quite similar with its little front garden and the huge chimney on its roof which gives the street a very attractive look. The look is enhanced by making the street wider towards its upper end so that it appears longer if you look into that direction. Originally, the houses were built for the men of the cathedral choir, and every building only consisted of two rooms. Numerous changes over the years have changed the latter, but it's still mostly clergymen and their families living there.
Adjacent to the Cathedral, this is claimed to be the oldest complete continuously inhabited medieval street in Europe. Built in 1348 to house the Cathedral choir the street comes complete with a small chapel at the end. The ambience of the whole, set in the context (and shadows) of the cathedral does evoke memories of the English history at its graphic best.
Another highlight of historic Wells is the Vicars' Close, notable for being the oldest complete continuously inhabited medieval street in Europe. It was built in the mid 1300s to provide housing for the men of the choir, the cornerstone of the city's long time musical tradition. If it weren't for the occasional toy or plastic chair in the front gardens, you wouldn't know you were in the 21st century as you walk through the close.
Vicar's close is england's oldest street with two rows of altogether fifty terraced houses. The street still contains is original cobbled stones. Building of these houses was started in 1363. Originally, it was built as a singing clerk's college and even today, many singers live in this street. Most other people living there are those working for or related somehow to the cathedral. Being ordinary houses, they were not that highly decorated like the cathedral. Anyway, you can still see some gothic elements in this street.
At the time I was there, nobody was on the street. This and the dark colours of the street gave it a special atmosphere.
Vicar's close can be accessed through a gate which is located close to the cathedral's chapter house.
Supposedly the oldest row of houses in England, it is in any case a gorgeous street, just off the cathedral. It was created to house the cathedral choir and each house was only tiny and with the chapel at the end of the street and common hall above you as you enter the street.
Around the corner from the Cathedral is Vicar's Close, the oldest complete street of 14th century houses in Europe. It was built to provide housing to cathedral vicars. Nearby is the Old Deanery, which dates back to the 12th century.
This, from a 1924 document, "Vicars' Close, with its fifty small houses forming the most perfect Gothic thoroughfare in England, was originally built as the College of Singing Clerks of the Cathedral. Here, time seems to have stood still ever since Bishop Ralph of Shrewsbury designed the Close in the middle of the fourteenth century. The visitor to Wells will also be attracted by the graceful and unique Chain Gate spanning the Bath Road and the ingeniously contrived Water Conduit. For both of these, Wells is indebted to Bishop Beckington. The glorious Parish Church of St. Cuthbert is one of those splendid Perpendicular buildings known in Somerset as "Quarter Cathedrals." It is only from Tor Hill, after having visited St. Andrew's Church itself, that the surpassing loveliness of the noble Cathedral, which has been aptly described as "a precious jewel set in an emerald landscape," can be realised. The rocky crests and tree-clad sides of the Mendips provide an ideal background for the peaceful scene; while, looking westwards, the far-reaching prospect, across moorlands, meadows, coppices and hedgerows, is bounded only by the waters of the Severn Sea."
As for the coats of arms in the opening photo, I am heavily indebted to one Debbie Jones for her help - they are, as follows If you look at your picture and read the coats of arms from left to right they are as follows:
1st Bishop Bekynton
2nd College of Vicars
3rd The Cee of Bath and Wells
4th Bishop Stillington