At the heart of The Palace is The Bishop’s Chapel, a place where prayer and worship have been offered over the centuries. Visitors of all faiths and none are welcome to pause and be refreshed by the ancient peace of this sacred place.
Weekly in the Chapel
TUESDAY @ NOON
There is a new programme of themes for these simple, informal weekly services, which take place at 12 noon every Tuesday (the clue is in the title!) and last just 20 minutes. All are warmly welcome, and you don’t need an admission ticket to come to a service in the chapel. Why not come along and try it?
Rosey Lunn, Palace Pastor
WEDNESDAY @ 1PM
A simple service of Holy Communion takes place every Wednesday, lasting no more than 25 minutes. All are welcome.
B.F.G (Bereaved Friends Group), our Bishop’s Palace bereavement support group continues to meet each month in the Stableyard room (through the arch beyond the café) and we welcome new members. It’s quite a small, friendly group, greatly valued by those who come. If you would like to find out more about it, please get in touch with Rev. Rosey Lunn, Palace Pastor (07786 118762). Usually we meet on the First Wednesday morning of each month at 10:30am.
News & Updates
CORONATION SERVICE (MONDAY 8TH MAY 2023)
80 people attended a service celebrating the Coronation, in the chapel on Monday. Cole Craggs, from the Cathedral School, was an accomplished trumpet player, providing a magnificent fanfare, and accompaniment; Arnold Wills played the organ, and conducted the Bishop’s Chapel Choir, who sang superbly – a special mention for Alexandra Gabriel the soloist.
The Bishop of Bath and Wells, Rev. Dr. Michael Beasley, gave a fascinating address telling us what it was like to play such a prominent part in the Coronation, by the side of the King, and challenging us to consider the need for us as a society to rediscover the need for service to our communities in these challenging times. Afterwards, all enjoyed a glass of fizz in the Undercroft and drank a toast to the King.
A ST. NICHOLAS FEAST FOR UKRAINIAN FAMILIES AT THE PALACE
‘The invitation was sent out through the Ukrainian hub which meets at the Portway Centre, for families in and around Wells. They spread the word to friends in Somerset, and In the end, over 100 people attended, including children, and also a few of the host families. It was a celebration of the Feast of St. Nicholas, which is an important event in Ukraine. We did our best to put on a magnificent feast of food that Ukrainians enjoy in the Undercroft, which they thought was a magical place – one of them described it as being ‘like a fairytale’. All children were given bags of sweets ‘with love from St. Nicholas’ (some of our volunteers had helped put these together) and Bishop Michael served mulled wine. After the supper they enjoyed hearing Orthodox Vespers (in Ukrainian) in the Chapel, with an Orthodox choir providing beautiful singing. One of the Ukrainian guests wrote afterwards that she had gone to bed with a warm feeling in her heart, and that England had never before felt so much like home for her as it did on that evening. Many thanks to all Palace volunteers who helped to provide such a warm welcome, which meant so much to those who came.’
History of the Bishop’s Chapel
This simple, graceful building is dedicated to the Holy Trinity and St. Mark. The unusual dedication is depicted in the modern icon by Silvia Dimitrova which stands to the side of the altar. Built by Bishop Robert Burnell at around the same time as the adjoining Great Hall in the late-thirteenth century, the windows are surprisingly large for the period and the tracery in them is an exceptionally fine example of the Early English style. The roof bosses are of naturalistic foliage and bizarre animals painted in traditional medieval colours.
The Chapel was restored by Bishop George Henry Law in the nineteenth century. In the windows he used fragments of French medieval glass from churches in the Rouen area, which were destroyed in the revolutionary era.
The pews are early-twentieth century and were carved by apprentice craftsmen from around the diocese. A keen eye can spot the names of their parishes carved into the woodwork.
The Chapel was re-ordered in 2006. The new altar, made of maple and Ancaster stone, was designed by David John and made by Richard Richardson. The altar stands above engraved stone work by John Rowlands Pritchard, with the text, ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself; and has given us the ministry of reconciliation’. (2 Corinthians 5:18).
Reconciliation is an important theme in the Chapel. The five icons behind the altar tell the Biblical story of God’s reconciling love for humanity throughout the ages. The Celtic knot under the altar also reflects this symbolism.
The Chapel is a place of living worship, where the Bishop, Palace staff and visitors come for times of prayer and reflection. Candles and prayer cards mark the passage of pilgrims and other guests. All are welcome to pause here.
10am-4pm (winter) 9:30am-5:30pm (summer)
Last admission to The Bishop’s Palace and Gardens, and therefore including the Bishop’s Chapel, is half an hour before closing.
Additional support group run by our Palace Pastor, Revd Rosey Lunn:
Bereaved Friends Group in the Stableyard Room on the first Wednesday morning of every month., 10.30am-12noon.
An informal ‘meeting of friends’ all of whom have experience bereavement, whether recently or some time ago. All welcome.