Set in the heart of the smallest City in England, The Bishop’s Palace has been home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells for over 800 years. Visitors are welcome to come and enjoy the stunning medieval architecture, moat and gardens within the rampart walls. Highlights of the historic grounds are the well springs that give the City its name, located next to the arboretum, and the famous Wells swans that ring a bell by the drawbridge over the moat to be fed.
The Bishop’s Palace is managed by The Palace Trust, registered charity number 1160830.
We are situated in the centre of the city of Wells which is 21 miles from Bristol and Bath. The Palace is reached through the Market Place and through the archway known locally as The Bishop’s Eye. The Palace building is on two floors with lift access between floors.
The nearest train station is at Castle Cary (9 miles). There are no bus links from the station but a taxi service is available. The other nearest stations are Frome, Bath (21 miles) and Bristol (21 miles). There are buses from all three towns, see First Bus South West for details of times and tickets. Once you arrive in Wells the streets are a mixture of paved and cobbled surfaces. A tarmac path leads you to the Drawbridge once you are through the Bishop’s Eye. There are two spaces available on site for Blue Badge parking; however, it is necessary to book this at least 48 hours before arrival. The Parkopedia has helpful information about car parks in Wells. The surface from the Blue Badge parking area to the Visitor Reception is level and tarmacked with staff on hand to assist. The Palace is open during daylight hours and additional lighting is provided for evening events. Alternatively, visitors can be dropped off just before the Drawbridge on Palace Green which is level with no kerb. The main entrance is across the Drawbridge which is level with no doors to open.
Visitor Reception and Shop
The Visitor Reception is accessed through a heavy, outward opening glass door. Staff are always on hand to assist with opening doors. The opening width of the door is 39 inches or 99cm. There is a very slight slope to the doorway but it is on ground level. There is no seating inside but there is outside seating available. The floor is lino and this area has strip and spot lighting. The counter is low and suitable for a wheelchair user. We offer a complimentary ticket to carers. Once inside the shop is level throughout with space for wheelchairs. The displays are at a variety of heights and staff are able to assist as required. On occasions there is background music playing. There is no loop system but there is signage throughout the shop. Staff are happy to assist as required.
The Palace Buildings
The door to the Palace is inward opening, heavy and made of wood. The opening width of the main Palace door is 47 inches or 119 cm. Around the Palace and Gardens, interpretation of the site is available through a choice of video guides (no subtitles), guided tours, guide book or self-led visits. Some of the interpretation boards around the site include pictures and diagrams. At this time there is no information in braille. There is seating inside and outside at various intervals and the floor surfaces are a mixture of concrete, tarmac, gravel and wooden bridges outside and then stone and wood inside. There is a lift to the upper floor.
There are two sets of public toilets, one in the Palace building and one in the Stableyard. Both are on the ground floor with level access and both have an adapted toilet which does not require a key. The opening widths of the doors are 35 inches or 88cm. The height from floor to seat is 19 inches or 48cm.
The Palace Toilets
There is space to the right of the WC for a wheelchair of approximately 3 feet. There are multiple horizontal and vertical grab rails on both sides. There is an emergency cord, should it be needed. There is fluorescent tube lighting. The floor is lino and the tap in the wash basin is a lever tap.
There is space to the left of the WC for a wheelchair of approx 3 feet. There are multiple horizontal and vertical grab rails on both sides. There is an emergency cord, should it be needed. There is fluorescent tube lighting. The floor is lino and the tap in the wash basin is a lever tap.
The Bishop’s Table café is located close to the main entrance at the Drawbridge. There is a slight slope to the door which is outward opening and heavy. Staff can see through the door and will assist with opening should it be required. The opening width of the door is 39 inches or 99cm. Once inside, the café is level throughout and the floor is lino. The tables are dining style tables and free standing chairs and are 29 inches or 73 cm and 18 inches or 45cm respectively in height. There are no arms on the chairs. There are at least two tables at which there is ample space for a wheelchair. The lighting is fluorescent tubes and spotlights and the menu is available on A4 paper and on blackboards. The staff can read the menu to visitors. Orders are made at the counter and are then brought out by staff to the relevant table. There are always vegetarian and gluten free options available and other dietary requirements can be catered for with advance notice. Staff are happy to assist as required. The nearest WC is in the adjacent Stableyard area.
The gardens are a mixture of lawns, formal beds, arboretum, allotment, community garden and large areas of water (moat and well pool). The pathways are flat and 71 inches or 180cm in width, mostly made of gravel or tarmac. There are some wooden bridges and decking. There are wooden and metal benches throughout the garden. The wooden bridge over the moat to the outer gardens is 32 inches or 81cm in width.
Staff will assist in the event of an evacuation and there are clearly signed waiting areas for assistance. Assistance dogs are welcome and we provide water bowls outside the café. The signage is mainly white print on teal background with a variety of font sizes. There are pictograms on some signs. We continue to evaluate and improve our access and the provision of additional services as necessary.
The Bishop’s Palace
Wells Somerset BA5 2PD
T: 01749 988111 ext 200