Drought exposes canal feature at Wells Palace

03 August 2018

BISHOP'S PALACE

The outlines on the south lawn  

The outlines on the south lawn  

THE heatwave that affected Britain last week has helped to reveal historic foundations in the gardens of the Bishop’s Palace, in Wells.

The outline of a canal feature in the gardens was discovered on the south lawn, after six weeks of dry weather. The decision of the palace’s head gardener, James Cross, to self-impose a hosepipe ban to save resources had assisted in the discovery.

An L-shape can be seen in the gardens, which is thought to be the outline of a former Dutch-style canal feature, laid out in the 17th century. It was attributed after consulting a map of Wells from 1790.

The development-project manager at the palace, Jonathan Sawyer, said: “The palace site is steeped in history. We know that people were drawn to the Well pools in our gardens as far back as the Bronze Age; so it is so exciting when new stories emerge in exceptional circumstances like this hot, dry spell.

“The gardeners may not enjoy it, but it all adds to our understanding of this beautiful site.”

The gardens were redesigned in the Picturesque style in the 1820s by Bishop George Law, which is when the canal feature disappeared.

The palace still contains the home and office of the Bishop of Bath & Wells, and is more than 800 years old. The medieval palace is also home to the wells and ancient springs that give the city of Wells its name.

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