Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cotswolds to Cornwall - Day 8

Monday, September 19, 2016
Today was a travel day as we journeyed about 4 hours from a somewhat central part of England to the southwest part.
This was our first real day of rain, which was fine, since we weren't hiking.
Our trip took us through Bristol, Weston Super Mare, Axbridge (noted for its well preserved medieval square) and Cheddar (yes, where the cheese originated).
Our lunch stop was in Wells, England's smallest cathedral city (population just under 12,000). It gets its name from 3 wells, two on the grounds of the Bishop's Palace that are used, among other things, to form a moat, and another in the town square.
But the real highlight of this stop is seeing Wells Cathedral, built between 1180 and 1239.  
As we exited the bus, we were awed by the vision of the church as it sits upon a vast, inviting green. 
The facade is magnificent. The front displays almost 300 original 13th century carvings of kings and the Last Judgment.
As we entered the nave, we saw the unique "scissors" or hourglass-shaped double arch, added in 1338 to transfer weight from the south -- where the foundations were sinking under the tower's weight - to the east, where they were firm.
Set in the floor are black tombstones that have decorative recesses that are not filled with brass as they once were.
After the Reformation in 1530, the church was short on cash and sold them to raise money for roof repairs.
There is a medieval clock from 1390 that does a funny "joust" on the hour and shows dates of the month and phases of the moon.  
Beneath the clock is a crucifix carved from a yew tree in 1947.
Next we went to the choir or "quire" as they call it, where the daily services are sung.
On the far end is Jesse's window, depicting the life of Christ and Christ's ancestors including Jesse, father of King  David. 

Next to the quire is the Lady Chapel. The stained glass window here looks like a kaleidoscope.
That is because Puritan troops trashed it in the 17th century. Although the pieces were saved, they never went quite fit back together.
In the south transept is the old Saxon font that survives from the previous church (AD 705) and has been used for Wells' baptisms for more than 1,000 years. 
Then we walked through the cloisters.
We left the cathedral and walked to the nearby Vicar's Close.  Built in 1363, this row of 42 houses is the oldest continuously occupied street in Europe.
It was built to house the vicar's choir, who previously had been lodged in other parts of the city and caused problems with unruly behavior. The houses were originally bachelor pads until the Reformation allowed clerics to marry and they were redesigned to accommodate families.
Several of us then went to lunch at the Swan's Inn and had a lively conversation with two English men who had been to all 50 US states. Their KY visit took them only to Corbin to see Col. Saunders home. I think they traveled but missed a lot.
Afterwards we walked to the Bishop's Palace, built in the 13th century and still in use today as the residence of the Bishop of Bath and Wells.
It is one of the oldest inhabited houses in England. The defensive walls, moat and gatehouse with drawbridge were built during the 14th century to protect the bishop from disgruntled residents.  
Now the moat provides a relaxing home for swans and ducks.
Then we boarded our bus for a 2-hour trip to Camelford and the Lanteglos Country House Hotel.

Our accommodations are amazing.  Sydney and I have a suite - with separate bedrooms, a sitting room and a large bath. Very nice.
Dinner was at the hotel - another 3-course meal. Then we had a speaker on Cornwall and off to bed.

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