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Photo: Ring out the old

12 October 2012


Ring out the old: the tradition of swans' ringing a bell for food at the Bishop's Palace in Wells is under threat, after the resident male swan flew off and left his mate. The spectacle helps to draw thousands of visitors to the palace each year. The swans are trained to pull a bell to prompt their caretakers to throw food from a window. But the latest swans, known as Bertie and Vicky, appear to have parted company, and the bell is no longer being rung.

A spokeswoman for the palace said that the swans were wild, and were not forced to stay in the moat. But she said: "We are hopeful that he will decide the moat is an attractive place to live, and return for good."

Swans were first taught to ring a bell for food by the daughter of Bishop Hervey in the 1870s - a tradition that has continued ever since


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