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Vicars' Close, Wells - Europe's Oldest Residential Street

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by Katherine Thomas (subscribe)
Having spent the last few years living abroad I now wish to rediscover my home city of Sydney to keep that 'travelling feeling' and share my findings with those that might want a bit of inspiration.
Published December 25th 2012
History made cute
For those history buffs out there, and also keen photographers – the small town of Wells in North Somerset will delight and entice you!

Wells
Vicars Close - Europe's oldest residential street


England's smallest city has much to boast about; most notably including the oldest continually inhabited residential street in all of Europe with all original buildings still standing. Vicar's Close as it is so titled is intriguing to walk down. It is tapered to appear longer from its entrance and shorter from the top. The feel of having walked onto a movie set is comparable as residents have maintained the historical heritage of every house with immaculate preservation. When one of our party stopped to talk to a resident in the middle of his summer-time gardening, I cringed that he was being accosted whilst in the privacy of his own home, however we were quickly put at ease as we realised the pride the residents felt in maintaining and sharing their homes.

Wells Cathedral - center of town


Whilst captivating; Vicars Close is not all this small community has to offer. A grand cathedral lies in the centre of the town, serving as a guiding beacon for drivers as they approach the city. The Bishops Palace is a fantastic example of medieval architecture. The surrounding moat complete with drawbridge will capture the imagination of both young and old. The gardens of the Palace provide a quiet place to wander along with multiple picnic and photography opportunities. Quaint cafés along with the ever-present coffee-chains (if they are more to your taste) are plentiful serving as places to while away the hours. The pace is slow despite the weekend tourists (including us) and the Sunday roast we had at local pub The Crown was impeccable. For a weekend day-trip it truly felt like a complete break from the reality of big city life.

Bishops Palace


Wells is only 3 hours drive South-West from London along the M5 and then A39, so the old adage of 'early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy wealthy and wise' would suffice. Buses also service the route, see here for transport options. Alternatively, an overnight stay at one of the local inn's would be a cost and time-effective idea – particularly if you wish to visit any of Somerset's other town attractions such as Bath, Bristol or Cheddar Gorge. Whichever you chose I guarantee that a visit to this charming city will feed both your soul and belly, capture your imagination, whilst being and on your purse-strings.
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Why? Get away from modern life, visit the oldest residential street in all of Europe without leaving England!
Where: Vicars' Close, Wells
Your Comment
My sister in law lives in Bath so we are often in that general area. I've never been to Wells before but looks like it's worth stopping there
by Oxford Explorer (score: 2|655) 2061 days ago
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