From its cobbled side streets and medieval architecture to its myriad of independent shops and eateries, there’s plenty to discover in the city of Wells, Somerset.
Your first stop in Wells ought to be its striking cathedral. Built in 1176, Wells Cathedral is an awe-inspiring building that boasts one of the largest collections of historic stained glass in the UK and is home to the famous ‘Wells Clock’. Brush up on your ecclesiastical history with a guided tour of the cathedral, or go at your own pace to take in its immense gothic beauty.
Don’t forget to take a stroll along the iconic Vicars Close to round off a morning of sightseeing. Widely regarded at Europe’s oldest residential street, this beautiful row of buildings (pictured above) was originally built in the 14th century to house the Vicars Choral.
After a morning spent exploring the city by foot, it’s time to grab a much needed coffee. Tucked away in a secret courtyard is LOAF. This family-owned and family-friendly space serves up coffees and brunch by day, and moonlights as a restaurant with a woodfired oven at its heart.
Coffee snobs needn’t look further than Strangers with Coffee. These guys know a thing or two about the best beans and will pour you an epic flat white. It’s on the small side – so you may want to order your coffee to go – but you won’t regret your decision to stop by.
For veg-led dishes that are sure to please, head over to Root (below). Located in the heart of Wells, this new restaurant is the sister site to Root Bristol. Sharing plates are the name of the game. Take your pick from a menu of tempting dishes made from Somerset’s finest produce, sourced from the surrounding farms, market gardens and dairies. This frequently changing menu offers a fabulous selection of small sharing plates, featuring the likes of tempura cauliflower with sweet chilli or fried ricotta dumplings with squash purée (say no more!).
For wholesome lunches in a super relaxed setting, look no further than The Good Earth. Each day this friendly vegetarian cafe prepares a variety of tried-and-tested favourites, like homemade quiches, warming soups and freshly baked cakes. There’s always a choice of four inventive salads to chose from, as well as at least one vegan dish, and plenty of coffees, teas and beers to enjoy. Their onsite lifestyle store The Potager is also worth a visit. It’s full of beautiful gifts and homewares, like natural skincare and handwoven textiles.
Make plans to meet for drinks at Santé Wines. This independent wine and coffee house is run by wine enthusiast David Schroetter, who spent much of his early life surrounded by the beautiful vineyards of the Loire Valley. Santé Wines is a light and bright space, festooned with greenery and offering an extraordinary variety of choice by the glass or bottle.
When it comes to location, few buildings are are inspiring as Bishop’s Eye (above). Located on the historical market square of Wells, this contemporary eatery and wine bar is set within the gateway to the Bishop’s palace. Housed within a remarkable grade II listed building, inside Bishop’s Eye has been transformed with art deco interior as well as a number of original features. Order yourself a few sharing platters of charcuterie, cheese or smoked fish, and sip on hand picked wines and bespoke cocktails.
About a mile out from the city takes you to the beautiful and historic Beryl Country House. An English country house of elegant proportions, stepping inside this Georgian manor is akin to being transported back in time. Originally built in 1838, this grand home served as a private residence until its current owner open it as a hotel to fund its restoration. Decked out in traditional country-house style, you can expect four poster beds, eclectic wallpaper, original antiques and manicured gardens. There’s also an outdoor for taking a dip during the summer months…
Lead image Vicar’s Close by Amber Maxwell Boydell.