The Swans of Wells

Well cathedral

Wells cathedral

I have just returned from a short break to the beautiful cathedral city of Wells in Somerset, the smallest city in England and home to a spectacular 13th Century cathedral, Bishop’s Palace and currently 61 5ft ceramic swans.

Swans have been synonymous with Wells in Somerset for centuries, the swans swim the moat of the stunning 13th century Bishop’s Palace, which has been home to the Bishop of Bath and Wells for over 800 years.

The swans live on the moat

The swans live on the moat

The swans of Wells have the unusual habit of ringing a bell by the Palace drawbridge to ask for food.  This unusual spectacle started 200 years ago, when the daughter of an 19th century Bishop taught her favourite swan to ring the gatehouse bell for scraps of food, a technique that has been passed down the swan generations!

Swans of Wells 2012 is a display of sixty, magnificently decorated, 5ft ceramic swan sculptures, one for each of the sixty years of the Queen’s reign. 



The flock is displayed in locations around Wells and the surrounding Somerset countryside until September 2012. (Find out more at ) Each swan is uniquely named and decorated, and there is an additional swan called The Swanderer (signed by the people of Wells) who’s location changes on a  regular basis.

We managed to see all but 14 of the 61 swans, those we missed were on the whole outside of Wells, and not within walking distance. My favourite was definitely Guinevere sitting on her nest by the entrance to the Bishop’s Palace, and also Bohemian Rhapsody which is to be found aptly on Queen Street, and included extracts from the musical score inside the wings.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody

Saturday lunch time we found ourselves at The Cheddar Valley Inn and the swan nesting on the roof was Scrump-y and by coincidence we met the artist,  Sarah-Jane Grace on the carpark!


Scrump-y complete with Cheddar Valley cider to quench the thirst!










The swans are to remain on display until September, when they will be gathered together in one giant flock for the Swansong Auction Preview weekend at The Bishop’s Palace on 15th & 16th September.  On 29th September they will be auctioned to raise funds for local charities.

swans montage

swans montage – photos by myself and Steve Woolley


About carolwoolley

I’m a Mum with passion for reading, astronomy and music. I sing 2nd Alto in the Kidderminster Valentines female voice choir and play the clarinet and flute in the Bewdley Concert Band. By profession I am a Chartered Librarian, qualified trainer and currently a Deputy Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Follow me on twitter @woolleybear64
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2 Responses to The Swans of Wells

  1. Pingback: The Swans of Wells | weeklyblogclub

  2. Pingback: Being human, being heroes, having cake | weeklyblogclub

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