s Bulletins will be archived here so you can always refer back to what has gone on:
2 November 2023
Just a few bits of news as I am away all next week. It really does feel like autumn here now with us closing at 4pm and those dratted walnuts tumbling down!
- The drawing room is now open to the public (although not finished yet). It will become Father Christmas’s grotto in Dec and then in 2024 will be transformed into Bishop Wynn Wilson’s study from the 1930s.
- The new Community Engagement Assistant post is now advertised. Please do mention it to any likely candidates you may know, or indeed you may want to apply for it yourself! Here is the link https://bishopspalace.org.uk/about/jobs/
- Christmas celebrations will be a little different this year. There is a choice of two wonderful events: Christmas Sing Along Round the Piano in the Long Gallery as part of a members evening (evening of Tues 12th Dec) or our usual chapel carol service on Mon 18th Dec at 2:30pm (you can bring a guest to this – warning to wrap up warm as we could see our breath in there last year!) Both will have mulled wine and mince pies. Please can you let me know which one of the two you would like to attend.
- Christmas 2024 (that’s next year, not this year!). Due to popular demand, we will be open between Christmas and New Year (days and times to be confirmed).
Many thanks to all of you who have signed up on the rotas lately. It makes such a difference having lots of helpful people around to welcome and inform our visitors. That’s not forgetting everyone else who volunteers here, behind the scenes in the offices, archives, the gardens, family activities, making and maintaining the costumes, and last but not least the maintenance team. We are so fortunate to have an army of volunteers to keep the show on the road here!
23 October 2023
Here is an email from Moira:
I hope you are all well. I know you have just had a volunteer news email from Siobhan but I thought some of you might be interested to know about a new fixed term role within the Garden Team as Assistant Gardener. Full details of this role can be found on our website: https://bishopspalace.org.uk/about/jobs/
This is a 15 hour a week, fixed term position working from 1st January until 31st August 2024. Applications are being received up until 19th November.
Please do share this exciting role with anyone who might be interested.
With best wishes,
HR Operations Officer
20th October 2023
I am away the early part of next week so I thought I had better send this out now rather than waiting. Autumn has well and truly arrived here. Thank you for sticking with us all year round even when the weather makes life a bit harder for everyone.
- I hope you have all now had chance to see the new Coronation Room (formerly known as the Panelled Room). The official opening took place on Monday as we had some Royal visitors, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.
- The Drawing Room and East Gallery are having the final touches done now and should be open again to visitors by mid Nov.
- Would anyone like to help ‘plant’ some of the Somerset Poppies 9-11am on Thurs 2nd Nov out by the front of the arboretum? There are approx. 1500 that we display each year. They were part of a schools project in 2019 to mark the centenary of the First World War. Each poppy represents the life lost of a serviceman from our county. We will need about 4 people to help please (wear rough clothes and bring your gardening gloves – or borrow a pair of ours!) We will also need some helpers to pull them all up again on Thurs 23rd Nov 9-10am please. Do let me know if you can help on either / both of those occasions.
- Wells Dementia Action Alliance have kindly offered to run a dementia awareness session for our staff and volunteers on Tues 14th Nov 10-11am in the stableyard room. There are 20 places so please let me know asap if you would like to attend. Once you are booked in I will send you a link to a video that you need to watch prior to the session (only 5 mins!) Priority will be given to those who have not already done this before.
- Next volunteers’ coffee meet up is Sun 12th Nov 2-3:30 in the stableyard room. Hope to see you there. There were about 15 people last time and good fun.
- This one is mainly for VSVs when you are at The Lodge checking tickets. There is a new joint ticket for groups. If someone shows you one of these please can you ask them to go to the shop as we need to retain the palace stub part of the ticket.
I think that’s about it for this fortnight.
13 October 2023
I know I only emailed you on Monday but now there is more news, all coming up in the next few days. I didn’t want you to miss out!
- William Earley’s (VOT team) leaving do will be from 6pm on Thursday, 19th at The King’s Head, High Street for farewell drinks should anyone wish to join us. I will bring along the card from the volunteer team.
- Did anyone accidentally pick up a white wool scarf with fine black embroidery from the coat rack in the Bevy Room on Wednesday this week. If so please return it asap. It has great sentimental value to the person who it belongs to. A reminder to please make sure the Bevy Room door is shut firmly when you leave please to avoid any visitors straying in.
- Palace Singers Group – this is a fun singing group, not a choir as such. We will be having our next singing rehearsal with Jill on Tuesday 17th October at 6pm in the palace – either in the Undercroft, or around the piano in the Long Gallery. Please could everyone arrive by 6pm, as there won’t be anyone on the gates after this time, so you may not be able to get in! Any problems, or if you do get locked out, please call the office number 01749 988111 ext 200. If you would like to attend for the first time please send Lucy a quick email so she knows to expect you. [email protected]
9 October 2023
Well although it is officially autumn it feels more like summer. We had a VERY busy weekend!
- Just a reminder that there is a volunteer coffee morning in the stableyard room tomorrow morning (Tues) 10-11:30. I hope you can make it.
- A few of the radios are not performing very well at the moment so Katy will try and get round to doing a radio audit in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, please make sure you speak clearly and at a steady pace (it’s really quite hard to hear messages sometimes). If any need replacing, she will organise that ready for Xmas.
- William (VOT team staff member) is leaving on 20 Oct. He will be working at Longleat. We wish him well. There is a card from the volunteer team in The Bevy Room. Please do sign it. I am pleased to say that David & Frances (both members of our volunteer team) have been appointed to two temporary posts in the VOT team in the lead up to Christmas.
- We have a team booked in for the Wells Community Network Quiz Night on Oct 21st in Wells Town Hall. Would you like to be on the team. If so, please let me know asap.
- Please bear with me while I am covering Janet’s duties now that she has left. We will recruit this side of Christmas with a view to someone starting as soon as possible in the New Year.
- You are very welcome to come along to the members event this Friday 11-12 noon. It is all about medicinal plants throughout history. Just bring your lanyard with you for a free entry. Useful knowledge to share with our visitors too.
- There are free copies of the Palace 800 booklet to collect from Bevy Room. These will be especially useful for new volunteers who might like to learn more about our history. They are on the windowsill behind the swan food!
- And last but not least the cygnets are on the move. At least one has already left and by the time you receive this it may be more. For the first time since I came to work here 8 years ago, I saw one of the cygnets flying over the palace last week!
- I hope you all get chance to enjoy the sunshine this week. So much for me getting my winter woollies out last week!!
20th September 2023
Apologies for all the emails lately but there is a lot going on. I will keep it as brief as possible.
I am sorry to have to let you all know that Janet Wilkinson, Community Engagement Assistant has handed in her notice and her last working day will be Tues 26th Sept. There will be a card for you to sign in the Bevy Room from 1pm today. We are sorry to see Janet go and we wish her well with her future ventures.
There are number of job vacancies advertised on our website currently, both temporary, part-time and full-time. Please do have a look if you, or someone you know may be interested.
I have had a few questions lately about the magnificent Maine Coon cat that can be seen strutting around the palace and gardens. His name is Lensky and he is officially a resident now as he belongs to Merryn and her family who now live in the top flat in the palace. He is very friendly.
15 September 2023
There is a lot of important information below so please have a good read through. Any questions, please do contact me.
Here is the quarterly update from Chair of Trustees Roger Hawes and Merryn Kidd, Interim CEO. Please note this video is only to be viewed by our team and therefore please do not share this link. https://youtu.be/-of-mKgZK28
Olivia Robson, Visitor Experience Manager, has left the employment of the Trust today, after a decision was taken to end her probation period. An advertisement for this position will go out today. Siobhan will line manage the VSVs and Drawbridge Welcomers until further notice.
A hat trick of social events coming up!
- I hope lots of you can join us for a relaxed social for the volunteer team on Sunday evening 17th Sept 5-7:30 on South Terrace. Sandwiches, cake, wine, juice etc will be served. If you haven’t already let Janet know you would like to come then please email [email protected] We certainly don’t want to run out of cake! Depending on the weather we may go up to the Long Gallery, so if you can knock out a tune on the new piano please do bring along some sheet music as that would make for a jolly occasion. There will be a special presentation to the moat boat crew as they all did so well and went above and beyond the call of duty (pic up in the Bevy Room!)
- Then on Mon 18th Sept 2-3:30 there will be a coffee meet up for volunteers in the stableyard room, everyone welcome. Arrive anytime and stay as long as you like.
- Then on Tues 19th there is a members evening with our very own Greg Beedle performing ‘Witty Ditties’ from 6pm. Just bring along your lanyard for free entry. I will be there.
The Palace Singers: meet one Tues each month at 6pm in undercorft. Please contact Lucy [email protected] if you are interested. It is a fun sing a long, not a formal choir.
Please note that we have updated our Covid Risk Assessment, which is in line with government guidance. There is a copy on the Bevy Room noticeboard and we will put it on volunteer website asap. This includes the following key issues to be aware of:
- Turn on air filters in cold weather when other ventilation measures will be less effective. We are ordering new air filters for the Visitor Office and Gatehouse.
- Keep surfaces clear so that cleaning can be carried out more effectively.
- While masks are not required, anyone who is more comfortable wearing one will be supported.
- Staff and volunteers are advised not to physically attend workplace and to stay at home and avoid close contact with other people for at least 5 full days if they:
- have symptoms of a respiratory infection; or
- have tested positive for Covid-19
Finally here is a message from Bishop Michael:
“I’m writing to you about an important development that’s going to shape the life our Diocese of Bath and Wells during the next year. In the last month, Bishop Ruth has been asked to take on responsibility for the Diocese of Coventry at a time of transition for them.
The background to this development is that Coventry’s diocesan bishop, Christopher Cocksworth, is moving to take up the role of Dean at Windsor. The suffragan bishop of the diocese, John Stroyan, has just retired. Together these changes mean that the diocese will be without episcopal oversight. In response, Bishop Ruth has been asked to become Acting Diocesan Bishop for an interim period, whilst a new diocesan bishop is discerned.
Bishop Ruth will remain as Bishop of Taunton but will be seconded for a period of about a year and her focus will be solely on the Diocese of Coventry during this time. She will stay in Coventry for much of the week although home will remain in Wells, so you may see her about on a day off with Howard! She will take up this role from November 6th although not move until the 11th and will need your prayers. Interviews for a new Bishop of Coventry are expected to take place next September. This means that Bishop Ruth will be away from us until at least the beginning of 2025.
It is always good when a colleague’s skills, experience and ability are recognised. Bishop Ruth has been asked to undertake this role in Coventry because it is widely understood that she did an excellent job here in Bath and Wells in holding the episcopal interregnum before my arrival. I’m therefore intensely proud that Ruth has been the obvious person for Coventry to turn to. “
I know that is a lot to take in. Thank you for keeping up to date. It is so important that with such a big team working over 14 acres, 7 days a week, we are all up to speed. Can I say a special thank you to all of you who carried on so stoically in that blistering heat last week. Weather like that means we are very busy and all of your support is much appreciated.
25 August 2023
Fingers crossed for a busy, sunny, fun weekend coming up including the Bowlore Medieval Group and the Moat Boat Race! Here’s the latest news/info:
Please do have a look on our volunteer website regularly. There is up to date info on social events, training, useful forms plus lots of history and general info. Is there anything else you would like us to add to the website? You can access it here https://bishopspalace.org.uk/about/volunteers/ and the password is Volunteer2018.
Bevy Room: I have removed the chain going into the room as we have a lock on the door so it is not necessary (and a right nuisance if you have your hands full!) If you want to leave your belongings in the Bevy Room but don’t lock them in the locker, please could I ask that you just leave them in a bag hanging up on the hooks. This is because locker space is limited and there have been a few days lately where we haven’t had enough vacant lockers. Thank you.
The next safeguarding & induction training session is on 4 Sept 2-4pm SYR. Please let me know if you would like to attend. You are very welcome to come for a refresher even if your training is not ‘out of date’ ie not over 3 years since you did it last.
The Panelled Room and East Gallery will be closed to the public from the 29th August as stage one of our Palace Interpretation Project gets underway. The aim is that they will be closed for September and October, reopening in November just in time for Christmas! There will be a couple of signs placed at each entrance to the panelled room explaining the reason for the closure.
Our new volunteers are now getting started. Please do give them a warm welcome.
Does anyone have access to Find My Past website? Would you be able to download 1921 census data on residents of Bishop’s Palace and gatehouse and email to [email protected] please? Rosemary is carrying out some research at the moment and would find this very useful, and save her a lot of hassle signing up for a free trial etc
A reminder to speak to your line manager if you have any concerns or questions. If for whatever reason that is not possible please do speak to me. We do pride ourselves on being a supportive place to work and volunteer.
Every Monday morning in Sept there will be a Nature Connections course running in the gardens. This is for people living with dementia and their carers. We are doing this as part of the ENLIVEN Project https://enlivenproject.co.uk/ with Exeter University. Please do read more about it.
I can hardly believe we are nearly in to Sept. The summer has flown by!
8th August 2023
The sun is out at last! Well we have waited long enough. (In fact, since starting this email yesterday, now the rain is back – so frustrating at what should be our busiest time of the year)
- Please give your name at The Lodge (ticket gate) as we are recording who is coming in using their lanyard ie when they are not volunteering, just visiting. We do this periodically just to make sure there aren’t any old rogue lanyards out there! Equally if you are on duty at The Lodge please can you record the names of people coming in using their lanyard.
- Would you like to help on our stall at the Moat Boat Race on bank holiday Monday at the end of the month? Approx 11am-5pm. There will be some set up at the start and the end of the day. The sessions will be 11-1 / 1-3 / 3-5 or you can do all day if you wish! Just let Siobhan know what suits you. It will be a fun event and we will have fun games and prizes for people to do on our stall.
- Please spread the word about the Flower Festival taking place here 10-13 Aug. More info at https://bishopspalace.org.uk/event/flower-festival/
- We are going to give a monthly coffee morning for volunteers a try again. I think the last time we tried it was just after COVID and many of you were reluctant to come to social events. So here are the dates up until Christmas Mon 18 Sept 2-3:30, Tues 10 Oct 10-11:30, Sun 12 Nov 2-3:30 and Wed 20 Dec 10-11:30. If there is a decent turn out, and you are enjoying it, we can continue after the new year. It is purely social, just for friendship. If anyone can think of a catchy name for it please do let me know. This will be a great way to meet volunteers who you don’t usually get to see and also to meet our new volunteers. No need to RSVP, just show up at the Stableyard Room.
- Thanks to those of you who responded with ideas for a late summer social event. On Sun 17th Sept 5-7:30 we will have some fun and games (or just a quiet chat together) on the South lawn and South Terrace. There will be food and drink and, weather permitting, a chance to soak up the sun in a rather beautiful setting while enjoying each other’s company. If you enjoy playing the piano please do bring along some sheet music in case we need to retreat indoors if the heavens open. We can try out the new piano. RSVP to [email protected] (including any dietary requirements).
- Today was the grand opening of the new community garden gate. This will mean visiting groups, particularly to the community garden, will have parking and easier and quicker access.
- Have you seen the new menu in The Bishop’s Table yet? Do familiarise yourself with it as visitors often ask.
I am away for a few days now but will be back in on Monday. I hope you are all getting a chance for a holiday / break / change of scenery too.
25th July 2023
I hope you’ve all had chance to see the new coronation exhibition in the East Gallery by now. Some very special items including Bishop Michael’s prompt cards used for King Charles at the coronation.
- We are currently updating the volunteer strategy and volunteer policies. Would you like to be involved in this process? If so I can send you the drafts for your comments or you can come along to a workshop on Fri 4th Aug 2:30-4:30 in the stableyard room. Please get in touch if you are interested by 28th July so I can get the docs out to you in plenty of time.
- You may have noticed a very handsome cat around the palace and gardens lately. This is Lensky, the Maine Coon cat belonging to the family who now live in the flat above the Long Gallery.
- The new food & beverage offer ‘The Bishop’s Brew’ is proving very popular, in the old horsebox in the free area. The Apple Store, for cold refreshments, is open 12-4 on sunny days.
- There are some new job vacancies listed on our website, mainly for catering. Please spread the word.
- We are advertising for some new VSVs and welcomers. Again please spread the word if you know someone who would like to join our friendly team. They can contact Janet directly, pick up an info pack from the shop or come along to an info session 10-11 on 31st Jul in the stableyard room.
- Janet is planning a volunteer social for the end of Sept. This will be a good chance for the new volunteers to get to know everyone and everyone else to catch up too. Please let Janet know what kind of thing you would like [email protected] We have a number of afternoon teas this year and a quiz so any novel suggestions welcome.
- And finally a reminder that if you haven’t volunteered for over 6 months that you need to do a refresher before returning. Please contact your line manager. For those who go beyond 6 months without getting in touch, we will assume you are no longer able to volunteer. Janet will be in touch with you in the coming weeks.
- Safeguarding training on Mon 7 Aug 3-4pm (prompt start please) in the stableyard room. Please come along if you haven’t done safeguarding training in the last 3 years. Please check with Janet if you are not sure.
- In September we finally get our Palace Interpretation Development underway. It’s been a long time coming Jill Francis our specialist decorator will be spending the whole of September in the Panelled Room to give it a much-needed makeover! However, it is a huge job, and if any volunteers would be willing to lend a hand it would be much appreciated! Mon-Fri throughout September, anytime to suit you between 10am-3pm.
This is our busiest time of year so thank you for pulling out all the stops to make the visitor experience as appealing as possible. I must give a special mention to Fiona who has single handedly transformed the dressing up offer over the last year. I rarely walk past there without seeing someone having some fun!
24 June 2023
I can hear the birds twittering as I write this email and there are currently 95 people in the gardens celebrating Refugee Week with a picnic in the sunshine. Many are from Ukraine and Syria. The event is being organised by the Wells Hub. Onto more practical matters now:
- I will start with sad news I am afraid. As many of you may be aware, Barry Frapwell, a dear member of our team, passed away three weeks ago. His funeral will be on Thurs 13th July. If you would like to attend and pay your respects please contact Siobhan as they need to know numbers of people attending.
- Please click this link to see our Interim Chief Executive, Merryn Kidd, interviewing our Chair of Trustees, Roger Hawes. https://youtu.be/7D0GcauVInM
- A new 3 hr slot will be added on supersaas in the coming week for VSVs on our busiest days. This will be 11:30-2:30. We will see how it works out over the next few weeks. Let us know what you think. This will not affect those who want to stick to their usual slot.
- The cygnets are doing well, and at least one of them can now ring the bell. They are called Bonnie, Billie, Charlie, Snowdrop and Floella.
- At long last the shop is back in action. Do go and have a look. Aswell as selling tickets there is a nice selection of souvenirs. The horsebox will be repurposed over the next couple of weeks for takeaway refreshments in the free area. The Apple Store is now open 12-4 for refreshments (please check when you come on duty if it is open that day as it does depend on staff availability). For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, it is out in the formal gardens. A really pleasant spot for an ice cream, glass of wine etc. Do go and have a look. It is not doing hot drinks at the moment as we don’t have a water supply to it.
- Wellbeing and Meditation Taster session on Mon 3 July 4:15-5:15. This is a free taster session being run by Jason from Wells Hypnotherapy. If you would like to come and try it there are 10 places and you will need to book with Siobhan before 29 June. We will be asking for your feedback. Jason may well go on to run a regular wellbeing course later on this summer.
- Ever wondered what is up the staircase at the end of the Bevy Room? All will be revealed on Thurs 20 July 2-3pm. It is basically offices and storage but we haven’t been able to show you up until now as we didn’t have a stair rail! If you want to have a peep I will meet you in The Bevy Room. No need to book!! The stairs are very tricky so please wear stout footwear and be confident of your footing.
- A reminder that there is sun cream in the Bevy Room. In this roasting weather please do take breaks as you need them.
- We have a pair of cards for both Historic Houses and RHS Gardens. This entitles you and a guest to free entry. If you would like to borrow the cards please book them out with Moira Anderson [email protected] in the Brewery Office. It is a good way to learn about our partner gardens (Forde Abbey for example) and also local heritage attractions that you can recommend to our visitors.
We have about 15 new volunteers. Please introduce yourselves and I know you will make them welcome. They are doing Palace Welcoming, Drawbridge Welcoming, Archives, Floristry and Visitor Services Volunteer roles. We will be recruiting more over the summer.
7 June 2023
It is National Volunteers’ Week so I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you for being such a fantastic team, for your loyalty and commitment. It is a pleasure to work with you all. Across the UK around 16% of the population volunteer. That’s down from 23% in 2019. So thank you for sticking with us and making this place so hospitable and unique.
We will be celebrating with afternoon tea in the undercroft and on the South Terrace on Wed 7th from 3:30pm so I do hope to see lots of you then. We are expecting over 100 people from various voluntary groups across the city.
- If you are interested in being on our team for The Moat Boat Race on Bank Holiday Monday in August please contact [email protected] . It’s lots of fun and the raft has already been built so the hard part is done!
- The cygnets have been named. Quite an eclectic mix this year!: Snowdrop, Bonnie, Charlie, Floella, & Billie.
- A reminder to please sign in and out in the Bevy Room when you are on duty. It is important we know who is on site so we can tot up the hours contributed by volunteers. The code to the door is C1267Y.
- A message from Greg Beedle (Head of Finance & HR) regarding a choir: We would like to gauge how much interest there is for setting up a choir among the staff and volunteers here at the Palace. A group was starting to form earlier this year, but that was put on hold temporarily. Now seems like a good time to start things up again. If you’d like to join in, do please respond to Lucy ([email protected] ) who will collate a list of interested people. Everyone is welcome – there is no prerequisite level of ability or prior experience.
I am afraid I must start with some sad news. Our former colleague, Allen Stockel passed away last week. He worked here for many years and was particularly well known to the maintenance volunteers. We have sent a card on behalf of us all to his family.
Now I must apologise because in my last email I made a typo in Janet’s email address for you to RSVP about the Volunteer Tea Party on 7th June 3:30-5:30. This is a Wells wide celebration of all our volunteers and we are very proud to be hosting it and working with Wells Community Network. National Volunteers Week is 1-7 June. Please let us know if you would like to join us. RSVP to [email protected] (we don’t want to run out of cake!).
Our new partner garden is The Garden House in Devon. Please have a look at their website https://www.thegardenhouse.org.uk/ . All our members (not annual admission ticket holders) get half price entry to our partner gardens.
To mark National Carers Week (5-12 June), The Bishop’s Palace is hosting a talk by Deborah Penny from Somerset Council “Think Carer” on June 5th, 2023 from 1pm to 3pm. This interactive session is designed for those in Somerset who are not currently caring for someone in an unpaid capacity, but are interested in supporting individuals and communities to think about the caring role.
Did you know that 1 in 5 people in the UK become unpaid carers during their lifetime? This talk will help you recognize what’s important in your life, understand the potential impact of caring for someone, and explore ways to prepare for the future. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn more!
This is a free event, but there are limited spaces. Please book your space by contacting [email protected]
The People’s Jubilee Exhibition in the East Gallery has now finished and coming in its place is a Coronation Exhibition in mid June.
We are recruiting for new volunteers, so if you know someone who you think might enjoy welcoming visitors around our wonderful Palace and Gardens please ask them to contact [email protected]
And lastly to say that now the sun is out, visitors numbers are increasing rapidly and we are open longer hours, thank you for all your hard work. I don’t know about you, but I have quite a spring in my step at the moment!
11 May 2023
There is a lot of news this time so please have a careful read through:
- Our Volunteers’ Week Celebration will be on Wed 7 June 3:30-5:30 RSVP to [email protected] (with any special dietary requirements). Invitation attached. This year we will share our celebration with other volunteers in Wells.
- New guide rota up now until August and the VSV rota will be updated from this Sunday evening for Jul & Aug.
- You will no doubt have noticed that Bishop Michael wasn’t wearing what we refer to as ‘The Coronation Cope’ on Saturday. This was because others in the matching set were not in good enough repair to be worn sadly. The ones they wore were borrowed. There will be a new exhibition upstairs from next month all about the coronation. If you have any spare copies of newspaper / magazines relating to the coronation please do bring them in for the attention of Katy Love.
- New books with info in about the Bishops’ portraits have been ordered and will be in the Long Gallery shortly. In the meantime all the easels have been removed as they were blocking the view of the portraits. I think you will agree it looks much better. We will also have place settings at the Long Gallery table for different Bishops, with a pithy sentence about each of them. Many thanks to Lynda for her work on this.
- A reminder about a farewell to Rosey Lunn, our Palace Pastor at 4:30pm on Tues 30 May RSVP to [email protected] please if you haven’t already. We will decide the venue a few days beforehand but it will be on site here so if in doubt just come to the ticket office on the day and ask! I have left a leaving card for Rosey on the table in the Bevy Room for you to sign.
- There are plans to install a turnstile system by the ticket entry point later on this summer. We still want to give our visitors a warm welcome though, so rest assured those volunteers who are currently at The Lodge will still be needed.
- Would you like to try a new volunteer role? See attached role descriptions. These will be in two hour sessions and will involve welcoming our visitors on either the drawbridge or inside the palace building. There will be a training session on Mon 22nd May in the stableyard room from 3-5pm. Please let [email protected] know if you are interested or contact me if you have any questions.
- There will be an induction and safeguarding session from 2-4pm on Thurs 25 May in the stableyard room. You are welcome to come along if you want a refresher or if you still need to update your training. Please book your place with [email protected]
- Apple Store. You may have spotted someone mending the roof this week. This is in preparation for a new outlet planned for there later on next month serving cold drinks, snacks and souvenirs. It should provide a lovely spot for visitors to get some refreshments in the gardens.
- The cathedral has informed us about an interesting free event coming up. Please click the link if you are interested in Medieval Gardens https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/gardens-in-the-medieval-and-early-tudor-era-tickets-625287340267
2 May 2023
Wonderful news: Janet Wilkinson started as our new Community Engagement Assistant today. She will have a lot to do with the volunteer team. Please do say hello when you see her around. She will generally be working Sun / Mon / Tues.
I am pleased to report that five fluffy cygnets hatched last week. The big ‘cygnet’ is still hanging around unfortunately but hopefully it will fly off soon. Gabriel doesn’t seem very impressed by its presence!
Do keep an eye out for Bishop Michael on Saturday morning on your TV screen. He will be standing to the left of King Charles at his coronation. There will be a fun day on cathedral green on Sun 7th. Do come and see us at our stall. We will be offering dressing up (copes, mitres and croziers amongst other things) and a ‘treasure hunt’.
And finally, with Dementia Action Week 2023 coming up 15-21 May, please take a few minutes to follow this link and complete a 5 min awareness video to become a Dementia Friend: https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk/WEBArticle?page=become-dementia-friend We keep a record of everyone who is a dementia friend so do let me know if you complete it. It is important to us that as many people in our team as possible are able to understand what living with dementia can be like, so that we make visiting The Bishop’s Palace the best possible experience for our visitors.
Message from the Chair of Trustees, 2 May 2023
To all staff and volunteers
On behalf of the Trustees I wanted to share a few thoughts with you. First we want to acknowledge how unsettling the last few months (and probably longer) have been for all of you and to thank you for your patience, hard work and commitment. We have seen significant staff changes this year and our heartfelt thanks go to all who have served the Trust so well over the years and we welcome the recent new joiners into our ranks and wish them well.
I’m sure I speak for all of us in saying what a privilege it is to work in such beautiful surroundings and how, if we work together as a team under the capable direction of Merryn, we can achieve stability, commercial success and better communication in 2023. We can then work on making the Palace and grounds even more inviting for the future.
We want to focus on delivery and avoid promising too much and delivering too little which perhaps has been a fault of the past. The Trustees meet next month on the 25th and if anyone wishes to raise anything with us please do contact me. Merryn and I will update you afterwards to appraise you of any key decisions taken at that meeting.
And finally, here’s to a sustained period of dry weather!
3 April 2023
Greetings from a fresh, sunbathed Bishop’s Palace. Spring is most definitely in the air!
- We are currently recruiting for a new Community Engagement Assistant (Emma was unable to take up the post after all). Please spread the word, or apply yourself! https://bishopspalace.org.uk/about/jobs/
- Please click here for the results and actions from the 2022 volunteer survey. I get the impression from some of the comments that perhaps some of you are not very familiar with the volunteer website. A lot of work goes in to keeping this relevant and up to date. Please do have a good look around it and also regularly keep up to date with the main website https://bishopspalace.org.uk/ . Here is the link to the volunteer website which is accessed through the volunteering page on our main website https://bishopspalace.org.uk/about/volunteers/ , and click the ‘click here’ button at the top of the page and the password is Volunteer2018 . As an incentive the first 3 people to email the answer to any of the following questions will receive a beautiful terracotta tile, a replica of a ceiling boss of four dragons in the chapel.
Q1: When is Laura’s last day?
Q2: What colour jacket is Roger Hawes, Chair of Trustees, wearing in his photograph?
Q3: In the training section, where are we going on 17th April?
- Swan Update: There are now 7 Eggs in nest and still one cygnet hanging around on Palace Green looking pretty sorry for itself!
- A moment of reflection from one of our team: Cup of tea while on duty. After chatting to one visitor at the ‘Lodge’ he went into the cafe and then delivered a cup of tea to me as he left. It was cold but I think it was more by way of a tip than feeling sorry for me. After all, warm drinks awaited me in the bevy room and I could always get warm in the palace. It made me think as this was the first time someone has bought a drink for me in those circumstances and made me feel a bit awkward. It can be as difficult to receive a gift or compliment as to give it.
- Farewell Tea Party, for our volunteers to say goodbye to Rosey Lunn our Palace Pastor, will be in the Undercroft at 4:30pm on Tues 30th May. Please let me know if you are planning on coming by 15th April.
Wishing you all a wonderful Easter time if I don’t see you before.
22 March 2023
Greetings. I know I only emailed you all last week but there is lots of important news you need to know about.
Jan Wallwork-Clarke, our Chief Executive has resigned and her last day will be tomorrow Thurs 23rd March. She will be moving out of the gatehouse over the next three weeks so you may still see her around if you would like to say goodbye.
- We had the annual volunteer briefing on Monday afternoon. There were fewer people than usual and I wonder if this was because I hadn’t sent out a reminder. In any event if you would like to catch up with what was shared please visit the volunteer website and under ‘Training’ you can find the powerpoint from the session . Please also look at the Training & Talks programme (to be found in the Training section of the website) in case you want to sign up for upcoming talks and tours including Garden Tour, visit to Mendip Hospital Cemetery and a Water Courses Walk. To book your place please email [email protected] .
- Visitor Reception Building: this is no longer going ahead as planned. The ticket office will be located back in the shop (ie at the far end of the café) in June. The costs were prohibitive to have a new building and with the new changes in the café this move made more sense. Exactly what happens at entrance gate next to The Lodge (shed!) is yet to be decided. We will be in touch with VSVs soon to ask their views and also to discuss some new roles that will be happening this summer season.
- The conference on Wells & Transatlantic Slavery went very well last week. Here is a link to a radio interview on BBC Somerset with one of the speakers, Prof James Clarke (about 28 mins in) https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p0f4ms8s?partner=uk.co.bbc&origin=share-mobile There is a self-guided trail map to historic sites linking Wells to British Slavery. We have copies here and they are also at the museum and cathedral. The new website with all the information on, including recordings of speakers at the conference, will be available from the start of April www.wellsandtransatlanticslavery.com .
- Rosey Lunn, our Palace Pastor will be leaving at the end of May. She would like to have a farewell tea with all the volunteers so please pencil in Tues 30 May and I will be in touch nearer the time.
- From next week I will leave a farewell card for you to sign for Laura as her last day is 18th April.
We are sorry to see valued colleagues leaving but we wish them well with their new ventures.
15 March 2023
I’m back! 3 weeks off (more or less) so it was great to get back to work feeling fully rested! Hope you are all enjoying the signs of Spring, daffodils, primroses and sunshine. Long may it last.
- I am afraid I need to let you know that Maisie died last week, peacefully here at the Palace. See attached prayer that was read out at her burial (in a quiet, private, spot in the gardens).
- Unfortunately the new Community Engagement Assistant who was due to start on Sunday has had to pull out from taking up the post. We will recruit again in the coming days / weeks.
- All the senior managers have been asked to offer annual reviews to their volunteer teams over the next few weeks. These aren’t compulsory but they are a good chance to just see how things are going, iron out any issues that may have come up and celebrate your achievements.
- Guides – the rota for spring is up on supersaas. Group bookings are started to come in (the first is on 24th March) so please keep an eye out for these. There is a spare slot for tomorrow (Thurs 16th too) if anyone is free.
- Laura’s last day will be 18th April and she will be in touch with info on her leaving do (that evening) but I thought it would be useful to have the date pencilled in.
- Well done to the Quiz Team who represented us at the WCN Quiz Night in Wells Town Hall. A fun night was had by all and a very respectable 4th place! It is so good for us to be taking part in community events. Would anyone like to represent us at The Memory Walk (attached) on Sun 26th March? There is no entry fee but donations are encouraged. We are supporting the event as it leaves from here, Bishop Michael is opening the event, and they are using the stableyard room for registrations. I will be taking part.
16 February 2023
Very busy half term week here, sun shining, lots of happy visitors and busy staff and volunteers! Thanks for going the extra mile to make our visitors’ experience really special.
- A reminder to please keep up to date with things on the volunteer website (can be accessed through the volunteering page on The Bishop’s Palace website using password Volunteer2018 ) and to regularly look at the main website too. There’s so much going on I can’t pass it all on through this newsletter.
- Sunglasses found (rather nice ones too) after the talk in the stableyard room on 30 Jan . Felt notebook left on 16 Feb. If you think they are yours please contact Laura on [email protected]
- On 16 March there is a conference about The Transatlantic Trade in Enslaved People and links to Wells. Please see attached poster. If you would like to attend on behalf of The Bishop’s Palace please contact [email protected] as we have booked a few places for our team. Anyone can attend for free online (see poster). A new document has been added to the Bishop’s page of the volunteer website. The Bishops of Bath and Wells and their links to the Transatlantic Slave Trade. A presentation was recently given to volunteers, as part of the 2023 training programme, on the historic background to the transatlantic trade in enslaved people and our bishops’ links to this. The talk presented the information we have uncovered during research over the last two years. The research was part of a wider initiative across the whole of the city looking into its links to this trade. Some of this research will be presented at the conference.
- Wells Dementia Action Alliance are organising a Memory Walk leaving from The Bishop’s Palace on 26 March. A poster will shortly appear on our noticeboard in the stableyard room with full details of how to join in.
- If you are interested in helping out with our archives then please contact [email protected] . Katy started as our new Property Manager last month and has experience of archive work so is keen to get work on our archive going again.
- There are a number of job vacancies on our website including Visitor Experience Manager and Café Supervisor. Please do pass on to anyone you know who may be interested.
- There are exciting things happening over at the cathedral relating to Vicars’ Close. If you fancy getting involved please see the attached invitation.
- Gabriel is prepping the nest, cygnets have been flying away, and yes, one did end up in the loading bay at Tesco….!
- In case you are wondering what is happening about our planned new visitor reception……..work is going on behind the scenes to make sure this goes ahead as soon as possible.
- Last but not least, I am going to be on holiday from tomorrow until 10 March so if there is something urgent please contact your line manager or if you are a guide (as I am your line manager) please contact Laura Richards.
I hope all the daffs will be out by the time I get back and Spring will well and truly be underway.
27 January 2023
I’ll keep it short and sweet (for a change!)
- Staff update: Laura Richards will be leaving at the end of April and we wish her well and thank her for being an outstanding member of the team. Katy Love (Property Manager) & Steve Tuff (Assistant Visitor Experience Manager) joined us this month so please introduce yourself. Last but not least, we have appointed a new Community Engagement Assistant, Emma Parslow who will start mid-March. I am really looking forward to working with her and I think she will be a great asset to our team. Thank you to Pam and Birina who helped with the interview process.
- A little reminder to please print your name clearly on the signing in sheet in the Bevy Room. It can be hard for Carol to read otherwise!
- A message from Jo in the community garden: During our first Nature Ninjas of the year in Feb half term we are going to be making dream catchers out of willow/sticks and bits of remnant fabric. I need donations of brightly coloured soft fabric remnants, ribbon and coloured wool – the brighter the better and if you have any soft netting/tulle/organza etc that would be great. If you happen to have any spare beads with large holes that would also be great. If you could give donations to the Ticket Office that would be fantastic or if you have a large amount of stuff drop me a line and I’ll sort something else out. By Feb 10 please
- And lastly I have attached a poster for a concert at Wells Cathedral.
12 January 2023
Firstly may I wish you a happy and healthy 2023. A busy start to the year so there is quite a bit of info below even though we are only into the second week of January. So without further ado………
- We are currently advertising for a new Comm Engagement Assistant. Please spread the word! Here is the link to the advert on our website. https://bishopspalace.org.uk/about/jobs/
- We are also recruiting new trustees. Please can you share this with any of your networks and pass onto anyone you think maybe interested in applying. The website link is: https://bishopspalace.org.uk/about/jobs/
- Volunteer Training, Talks & Tours 2023. Please find the schedule attached. It will be slightly different this year as from 1 March the stableyard room will be used as a ticket office until the new visitor reception building is completed. So in March and April we will do mainly tours and in Jan & Feb we will make good use of the room. Places are limited and it will be first come first served so please book in with Lucy asap (info on schedule about how to do this)
- Jan and Roger (our Chief Executive and the Chair of Trustees respectively) are now creating a quarterly video to keep everyone up to date on the work of The Palace Trust. This link went live on our YouTube channel a few days ago so please tune in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7bn6mjnjFE
- Thank you to everyone who completed the volunteer survey. I will send on a summary of the results and action points separately. The overall picture was a very positive one. Lucy Fleming, our admin assistant will be in touch with the lucky winners whose names were ‘drawn out the hat’ for a prize.
- Jan, our Chief Executive, has come up with the wonderful idea of starting a Palace Trust Choir. Please see her message below and contact her directly if you are interested at [email protected] : I’ve been thinking about setting up a workplace choir, made up of all sections of our team. This is purely for the benefit of getting together in an activity that would bring us together, be creative and possibly quite fun. There are many benefits of singing for pleasure especially for well-being. So, it won’t be competitive or anything. Initially looking for a show of hands from those who would be interested. Then I’ll think about more details like how often, when, where, etc. Thanks, Jan
- There is a Quiz Night on Friday 24th February, 7pm, Wells Town Hall with all proceeds going to Wells Community Network. We have been part of this network for almost 3 years and they do fantastic work in our community. It would be great if we could have a team there on the night. If you would like to take part please let me know. We will cover the cost for the team and you will be taking part as ambassadors for The Palace Trust. I won’t be able to make it because I am away on holiday. It is good for The Palace Trust to support community endeavours beyond our drawbridge. So if you know of something that we could get involved in please give me a shout.
Hi, brace yourselves it’s a long one today!
- Rosey, our Palace Pastor, needs your help on Tues 13th 2-3pm in Bevy Room wrapping sweets for Ukrainian children and then 7-9pm on Mon 19th Dec to help with refreshments in the undercroft after the special carol service in the Chapel for Ukrainian families. Please let me know if you can help. We need at least two people for both tasks.
- Travel Expenses please try to get these in asap. (Final deadline is 10 Jan for any outstanding expenses from 2022. Any submitted after that will not be reimbursed I am afraid.)
- There has been some confusion over Carol Service dates times. Volunteer Services are Mon 12th Dec at 3pm and Wed 14th Dec at 6pm. The other ones I mentioned that I needed help with in my last email were for MEMBERS only.
- I thought you would like to know that this year we have given out 45 memberships to local Ukrainian families, offered free annual tickets to those using the foodbank here in Wells, provided annual tickets to families on pupil premium in two local schools and invited 7 families to see Father Christmas as our guests (and given all those families annual passes too). So thank you for all of your hard work that makes this kind of thing possible for our charity, The Palace trust, to do to support those in our community who need a helping hand right now.
- More good news. This year we have had an incredible response to our schools Eco-Exhibition. The theme was Christmas Carols. Do have a look in the conference room at their exhibits. Over 700 children took part! Winning schools receive a prize up to the value of £50 and all schools get a goody bag of Palace treats. I have been to two schools to present prizes in assembles too. Two schools have also been to visit to see their exhibits on display. All were invited but the cost of transport is prohibitively expensive at the moment.
- Do go and look at the Christmas decorations in The Palace. The garden team has outdone themselves this year. It is all looking fabulous. Thank you so much to everyone who played their part, big or small, in pulling together to get it all done to such a high standard. My favourite room has to be the Undercroft, simply because I love that room and now I feel like we have really done it justice with the new tables. What do you think? Please spread the word to your friends, neighbours and family.
- Parking. This is one of things that regularly comes up as an issue for our team. One of our garden volunteers told me that you can get all day parking in Morrisons for under £3. You need to use a parking app or go online to pre book it. Attached is a user guide we have done especially for you. Absolute bargain!
We keep popping sweets / mince pies in The Bevy Room so do help yourselves.
We had a wonderful bank holiday weekend here, very busy with lots of happy visitors. Thank you to everyone who went the extra mile to make it such a success. Now for all the news:
We are on the telly again! ‘’The Cotswolds and Beyond” starts this coming Friday and The Bishop’s Palace will be featured in Episode 5, which will be aired on Friday 30th September at 8pm.
- Guides – the new rota is now on supersaas up to Christmas (one tour a day at 12noon from Sun 30th Oct). We are going to reintroduce the garden tours on the first Friday of the month from Nov to add some extra interest for RHS members (who get free entry on Fridays). Please only sign up for these tours if you are one of the garden guides and are confident to talk about the planting, trees etc.
- New Visitor Reception. This has been on the cards for over a year now and I am pleased to let you know that we have now begun the process of applying for planning permission and, assuming things run smoothly, the new building may be up and running by Christmas. It will sit on the same site as the current ticket office and it will have space for some merchandise too. It will be a modern ‘floating’ building in a similar style to the cafe (we won’t be digging down in to the ground which would havemade building it so near to a scheduled monument very difficult)
- You may already know that we have a team meeting on the first Thursday of each month in the stableyard room at 9:20am for approx. 30 mins. Each department is represented and shares current news / issues. The volunteer team is represented by me and a volunteer. Would you like to be one of the volunteers who comes to the meeting for the next 12 months. Ideally we have three volunteers so it isn’t too onerous a task but you also get chance to go to at least 4 meetings during the year. You are not expected to represent the whole volunteer team’s views as there isn’t a mechanism to do this in any fair way. You can just share your own experiences and perhaps those of other volunteers you have spoken to recently. Please let me know if you are interested by 15th Sept.
- Rosemary Cook has been very busy lately updating and refreshing the volunteer website. If you have any pics that you would like to feature on the gallery page then please do send them in [email protected] We have had some really fantastic ones in the past. Do go on and have a look https://bishopspalace.org.uk/information-for-volunteers/ password Volunteer2018 There is loads of other useful info on there too.
- I will be away on holiday from today until 12th Sept so see you all when I get back.
- Please see the attached Harvest Festival invitation. The time has been changed so do double check if you had planned to come along.
- Finally, some sad news to share now. Mario Sorgente, one of our visitor services volunteers passed away recently. Although he hadn’t started up volunteering again since Feb 2020 we had stayed in touch and he was looking forward to coming back sometime soon. He was always such a positive person and nothing was too much trouble for him. We will miss him.
Contacting you from my personal sauna office! You may be interested to know that James thinks the flow over the waterfall may stop over the weekend. If that happens it will be the first time since 1995 (and the time before that was 1976!) If you have chance do look at the lawn in the south west corner of the south lawn. It is so dry now that you can make out the shape of the water feature from the 1700s. The good news is that the garden team’s back breaking efforts back in the winter months, mulching the flower beds, means that the moisture is retained and currently our plants are surviving well.
- Please tune in to Antiques Roadshow Sun 14th Aug at 8pm for the second episode of the recordings they made here last summer.
- The work experience students who were here a few weeks ago made a wonderful video ‘What the Bishop’s Palace Means to Me’. Do have a look. You will recognise some of the voices! You tube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3VVBy9PUQ8 I also found this video showing what the palace was like in 1920: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=S_OqXVRnyUk
- The People’s Ticket – we are phasing out the name and just referring to it as our admission ticket from now on.
- From 1st Sept we will be trialling going cashless in the café. This is to try to save staff time and money. Do let us know if you get any feedback from visitors about this so we can make a decision about whether to continue or not after 3 months.
- With the increasing frequency of very hot weather just a reminder to stay cool on site (The Bevy Room is lovely and chilly). We quite understand if you are unable to come in, especially if you are using public transport, just give us as much notice as possible please. Guides please feel free to vary your route to seek shade (or go inside the palace which is very cool) and make the tours shorter.
- You’ll be pleased to know that our outdoor events have done really well so far this summer. The last performance is a family show ‘Awful Aunty’.
- Bishop Michael and his family will be moving in next week but are then going on holiday so you may not see them around for a while.
- To keep up to date with everything please visit the volunteer website https://bishopspalace.org.uk/information-for-volunteers/
Thank you for all of your hard work at our busiest time of the year. We are now starting to plan Christmas….only 135 days to go!!
I was out by the wellpools today and a lady told me that she comes here throughout the seasons and finds it a real place of inspiration and solice. Shortly afterwards I had a long conversation with a girl and her teddy, which brought back very happy memories of a teddies’ picnic my children and I had in the arboretum about 20 years ago. Next I saw the pride with which someone shared their jubilee exhibition items on display in the East Gallery with their family. Aren’t we lucky to share these moments and memories with the visitors? Now to more mundane matters!
- Firstly thank you to everyone who helped and supported our 11 work experience students over the last fortnight. You made sure they had a really positive experience. We have had some lovely thank yous from parents, schools and the young people themselves. They have made a short film about what the Bishop’s Palace means to both our team and the visitors, and I will send you out a link to it on our YouTube account just as soon as it is finished.
- After a very useful visit to The American Museum and Gardens just outside Bath, I have arranged for a reciprocal visit. 35 of us will go there on Tues 13th Sept and then we will welcome them back here later in the month. They have had their gardens redesigned by an American designer and they look fabulous. If you would like to come on the trip please email [email protected] by 12 noon on Tues 26th July. We will be car sharing so please let her know if you can offer a lift or if you need a lift. We will cover transport costs. Please bring a packed lunch (or there is a café if you prefer to buy a lunch). With limited numbers, I think it is only fair to prioritise volunteers who have been active over the last 2 months (but if you haven’t then you can still express your interest as some places may still be available).
- Just a reminder that safeguarding training is mandatory here and needs to be refreshed every 3 years. Lydia has been doing her best to contact everyone who needs to do it. If you are wondering why I keep going on about this (in a good way of course!) it is because there are still about 25 people who need to complete it. Next dates are 19 Sept 2-3pm and Fri 4th Nov 10-11. We will set a deadline of 5th November. Don’t forget you can always do an online refresher if you have done the 1hr training . Please see the volunteer website for info https://bishopspalace.org.uk/information-for-volunteers/ and the password is Volunteer2018
- Just a reminder that the travel expenses allowance has gone up to 45p. Attached is the up to date form. Please can you complete all sections of the form when you submit it which saves me getting my calculator out and also having to look up where people live!
- In terms of performance, to date we are taking less income than we had planned for. Many visitor attractions are finding the same and of course we have struggled to recruit a new chef. We will be revising some of our plans for the rest of this year to make sure we take this in to account. The good news is that lots of great things have been happening. We have been able to offer over 25 family memberships to local Ukrainian people. We are sharing our surplus veg with Wells Food Bank and this year we have welcomed over 600 school children as our guests. We have also been reaching out to parishes across the diocese and are welcoming groups weekly for the next couple of months. We are also working hard to plan to reduce our carbon footprint and the new visitor reception should be completed by Christmas. I am delighted to report that we expect Bishop Michael and his family to move in before September.
- Lots of outdoor theatre coming up so please spread the word to friends and family. I shall be going to Dracula!
Hi, for once this will be fairly brief!
- Does anyone have a copy of The Times from yesterday Thurs 30 June? There was a photo on there of Year 13 students from The Blue School coming for their prom here and I would love a copy of it. The photo is of them sheltering from the rain – yes it was torrential rain just as they arrived! Please just email me and then pop it in to The Bevy Room when you are passing. Thank you.
- There are lots of events coming up so please visit our website to keep up to date www.bishopspalace.org.uk
- We are still looking for a chef for The Bishop’s Table so please do spread the word. It is such a lovely place to work and a fantastic team.
- For those of you who come in on a Thursday, just to let you know that Ammar has finished his placement and will be moving back to London. We gave him a card and goody bag on behalf of the team. Initially he needed quite a bit of support but has grown in confidence over the last 8 months. Thank you to all of you who worked alongside him and helped to make his days here so rewarding.
- 11-15 July we are welcoming ten students from Wells Blue School on work experience. They will mainly be in the gardens but will also be meeting and greeting visitors, doing practical tasks around the site and will do a short film about life here at the Bishop’s Palace and what it means to people. We will include some short oral recordings from volunteers too. So if you are around that week please consider taking part if you are asked. It is just a few sentences and will be played over film footage of the gardens and palace so you don’t need to worry if you are having a ‘bad hair day’!
- Lastly has anyone seen the portable microphone that we bought for the guides? It was tucked away in a cupboard in The Bevy Room but has disappeared.
- Over the next few months we are expecting regular visits from parishes across the diocese on Tuesdays. This is a new initiative to try to build stronger links and for the parishes to feel a real connection with The Bishop’s Palace. Afterall, one of our charitable aims is to further the work of The Church of England. Each Tuesday 10 people will visit, as our guests, attend Tuesday at Noon, perhaps do the waterside prayer walk, stroll around the gardens and then at the end of the day they may go over to the cathedral for evensong. So if you meet any of them when you are in please give them a warm welcome.
I will start with some sad news: Stephen Carpenter, who volunteered with us for over 10 years, died unexpectedly in April. He used to the get the bus in from Cheddar most Saturdays and often volunteered here with his sister Gill. We will really miss him. I attended his funeral on behalf of our team a couple of weeks ago. Do write a prayer card to be read out at the Tues at Noon service to remember Stephen.
- We’ve heard from the BBC that the second and final episode of Antiques Roadshow that was filmed here at the Palace last year will be broadcast this Sunday 22nd May (8pm). See who you can spot!
- Would anyone like to come in on Wednesday 25th May at 10am to help put up the bunting along the chains around the croquet lawn? Should take an hour or so.
- Hot off the press: the winning names for the cygnet naming competition are: Platinum, Jubilee, Michael, Fuzz, Elizabeth and Magnolia
- Please have a look at this fire procedure It explains your role as volunteers. https://www.canva.com/design/DAE9974XNEk/42e0V7bWhB4jvSOVfFroYA/watch?utm_content=DAE9974XNEk&utm_campaign=share_your_design&utm_medium=link&utm_source=shareyourdesignpanel
- The next safeguarding training is: 15 June 3-4pm (or 2p-4pm if you need to do both induction and safeguarding)
- Don’t forget our Garden Party on 13th June from 5:30-9, sandwiches, cake, garden games, music……about time we had a bit of a long overdue ‘knees up’! Please let me know if you plan to attend.
- Would you like to take part in the charity boules competition taking place here on Sun 12th June? We would like to enter a team and need two more people to take part. It starts at 9am and is an all day event. Let me know if you are keen.
- Jan, our Chief Exec, came in to visit last week. As you know her son died at Easter. She hopes to return to work in the next few weeks. As her colleagues we can help her by welcoming her back and respecting her privacy.
- Please see the pic below to give you a quick summary of how we are doing at the moment (really well, by the way). In addition to this you may like to know that we are giving free memberships to local Ukrainian families, we hosted an event here for heritage organisations across the South West to share how we are delivery our community engagement programme, and also the new ‘People’s Jubilee Exhibition’ will be open from Sat 28th The exhibition will be in the East Gallery. It will be great to finally have that room reopened to the public. Even Her Majesty will be visiting (my little joke, you will see what I mean when you visit!) All this success is thanks to the part you play in our team, however big or small that may be. Thank you.
- I am pleased to let you know that the 80th Bishop of Bath and Wells has been announced. He is Right Rev Michael Beasley (see more info below). He was here visiting today, along with his family.
- In other news we now have 6 cygnets swimming on the moat. Start thinking of suitable names for them and of course tune in to the swan cam on our website.
- The café has asked me to remind you that your 10% discount in the café only applies to purchases for yourself, not other guests who you may be buying meals for etc.
- Just to let you know that due to the fair being in the Market Place next week vehicle access will be very restricted on Friday and Saturday so no onsite parking will be available.
Downing Street has announced today (10am, 28 April 2022) that the Rt Revd Michael Beasley will be the next Bishop of Bath and Wells. He is currently the Bishop of Hertford, a role which he has held since 2015. Prior to taking a fulltime role with the church, Bishop Michael was an epidemiologist, a background he was called on to use during the pandemic as a member of the Church of England’s Covid task force.
Bishop Michael is already familiar with Somerset. His wife Lizzie is from a farming family from Somerset and prior to Bishop Michael being interviewed for the role of Bishop of Bath and Wells, they both undertook a 60 mile walk around the county.
Speaking in advance of today’s announcement, Bishop Michael shared his joy in becoming the 80th Bishop of Bath and Wells and said he was looking forward to getting to know the people of Somerset.
He says, “I am delighted to be coming to be the Bishop of Bath and Wells and to joining with everyone in the diocese as together we live and tell the story of Jesus.
“We have strong family connections with Somerset and I’m very much looking forward to working alongside its people, communities and churches.
“We have all been through a challenging few years. The COVID pandemic pushed us all apart. Now is the time to come back together. Our churches have an essential role in helping us rebuild communities and in facing the challenges present to us both internationally and at home.
“Jesus’s message is one of peace – a peace I’m looking forward to sharing and pursuing as I join you as your bishop.”
Before his ordination as Bishop of Hertford in the Diocese of St Albans, Bishop Michael served as Director of Mission in the Diocese of Oxford. A scientist by background, he was an epidemiologist specialising in infectious diseases of children in low-income countries.
As well as being a member of the Church of England’s Covid task force he also worked with UNICEF, the NHS, the Government and leaders of different faiths to launch vaccinaid.org which has raised more than £10 million in support of vaccination for low-income countries.
Commenting on his work on the taskforce he says, “I thought I’d left science behind but God never wastes anything! So in the last few years the skills I gained before have been of use to the Church now.”
Greetings and here is the latest on life here at The Bishop’s Palace:
- Latest on the swan egg situation: 5 eggs. Keep an eye on the swan cam on our website from the first week of May to see the cygnets hatching. If you would like to tune in to Moira talking about the swan cam please click on this link to BBC Radio Somerset (her bit is about 19 mins in to the show) https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p0byvfp1
- Just a reminder that everyone needs to sign in and out in Bevy Room. The code is C1267Y (bottom two buttons and top four buttons – I find it is much easier to remember the pattern rather than the actual numbers!) Thank you so much for keeping The Bevy Room so clean and tidy.
- Next safeguarding refresher is at 10:30 on Fri 6 May in the stableyard room (please book in). This is for people who have already done the training and will last approx. 30 mins. For those who have not done it before, the next session will be on Wed 15th June at 2-4pm. Once you are up to date on your safeguarding we can issue you with the latest volunteer lanyard to replace your old one.
- There are still a few talks and training sessions left. If you have booked in but cannot make it please let Lydia know. Many thanks.
- Many thanks to Frances for sending in this link to a tv show talking about the West Front of Wells Cathedral. It is very interesting. It is about 14 mins in to the show. Here is a link https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6trael
- A reminder and date for your diary: June 13th from 5:30-9pm – Volunteer Week Celebrations with the whole team at a Garden Party (see below). To help us cater for the event please rsvp to [email protected]
A chilly but sunny day here at The Bishop’s Palace.
- We had a lovely time yesterday afternoon, up in the conference room, doing the annual briefing. For those of you who were unable to make it, I will send on some notes next week. In the meantime we did mention that a decision was taken to introduce a 10% discount for volunteers in our café. This will come in to effect from Fri 8th April (they have to set the till up and let café staff know). You will need to show your lanyard at the till and ask for the discount. We will also be increasing mileage to 45p per mile (up from 40p and in line with HMRC guidance) and max £9 per day claim (up from £8). This will start from today!
- Last I heard there were at least three eggs in the nest but Moira is the only one brave enough to get near the nest and she is on holiday at the moment so I hope there will be more in the next few days.
- Don’t forget there is a Wellbeing Walk on the first Sunday of every month from 10-10:30 meet at the ticket office. Do join us or spread the word. What a great way to start your day!
- A reminder that the Swan Whisperer Talk that was scheduled for this Sunday has been postponed.
- Lastly I thought I would share my little April Fools Day joke that I played on some of my colleagues today. I burst into a meeting brandishing a radio asking for help as there was someone streaking on the croquet lawn. Full marks to Laura who jumped straight out of her seat to deal with the situation! They all looked very relieved when I reminded them what day it was!
Firstly I must report the sad news that Christopher Bond died suddenly earlier this month. He was a garden guide here and will be very sadly missed.
- The guide rota for the next 3 months is now up on supersaas. From 1st April we will return to doing indoor tours too so guides will sign up for a morning or afternoon session (doing an indoor and outdoor tour).
- Do you, your family, or your friends have any items of interest that we can display in our upcoming Jubilee Exhibition? We are particularly interested in items with an interesting back story that relate to our Queen’s 70 years on the throne. Closing date is 31st March. If you are not sure if the item you have in mind fits the bill then just drop me a quick email or give me a ring.
- Sculpture trail – there is a leaflet about the sculpture trail in the Bevy Room. This is specifically for school groups who are visiting Gormley’s ‘Doubt’ on the West Front of the Cathedral. As part of their visit some of them are also visiting our gardens to look at the sculptures here. Recently we have produced a video to go along with it which you can watch on our youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ht4SfBNWhXY
- Seed Swap – please find attached a poster about an upcoming seed swap. All volunteers are welcome.
- It’s not too late to come along to our annual briefing for volunteers on 31st March at 3:30 in the Conference Room. To book in please email [email protected] It is your chance to meet our trustees, our new Chief executive Jan Wallwork Clarke, hear about The Palace Trust and the key areas of work in the coming year. We will also be dishing out the new volunteer lanyards for 2022. Everyone will need one eventually so why not be one of the first to sport one? There will be a chance to mingle at the end of the presentations. You can also join us online so if you can’t make it in person but have a burning question you don’t need to miss out.
- For those of you who aren’t already signed up to the monthly e news from The Bishop’s Palace, may I recommend it. It is for anyone, member of the public, ticket holder, or member of our team. You can subscribe scrolling to the bottom of the homepage at https://bishopspalace.org.uk/ and then signing up. Below is a copy of this month’s news with lots of really useful info so you can see why it’s worth subscribing!
- Bevy Room door code – one or two people have found it a bit tricky to read the numbers on the door code. Just a reminder that it is easiest to ignore the numbers and just punch in the shape : start with the bottom right , then top four buttons followed by bottom left (C1267Y) Once the clocks go forward we will need you to sign in and out at the Bevy Room, this is to save you queuing for ages at the ticket office once we get busier and also to save the VOT team extra work when they will have their hands full.
- There is still one cygnet left and it is being hassled by its parents to leave but hasn’t quite got the message yet!
A few pieces of news, including the latest on our swans!
- Update from James Cross, Head Gardener, after the recent storms: the gardens and buildings have not suffered any damage. The tree surveys that we carry out and the work by our tree surgeon is obviously working well. Aron and Colin removed the fallen cedar branches on Palace Green. The trees on palace green and moat walk are managed by Savills who are aware of it.
- You may have noticed a new ‘gadget’ in The Bevy room. It is a medical grade air filter which kills viruses in the air. It only works if it is on so the instructions are up on the noticeboard.
- High Level Walkway. Here is a statement from The Palace Trust explaining about our recent decision not to go ahead with the High Level Walkway: As part of our ongoing commitment to community engagement and developing access for all, project priorities at The Bishop’s Palace have recently been reviewed, under the new leadership of Jan Wallwork-Clarke, who joined us as CEO in January. As a charitable trust, we have considerable pressure on limited resources and our aspirations must match our ability to deliver our priorities. Hence we will not be going forward with the proposed High Level Walkway project. We’re committed to taking The Bishop’s Palace and Gardens into an important new phase in its 800-year history developing other projects that better support our revised strategic objectives, one of which is to enable as many people as possible the greatest range of access to the Palace, Gardens and Grounds be that physically, spiritually and emotionally. Our priority is always to conserve the Palace and Gardens for future generations and to be a national beacon for community engagement and well-being. Hence our commitment to prioritising projects that best meet those objectives including improving our visitor welcome experience, investing in the interpretation of the Palace building and encouraging the participation of disadvantaged people to increase their enjoyment of this special place.
- Swan News from Moira:
February has seen the usual disturbances on the moat with Grace and Gabriel encouraging the last two cygnets to leave home. Our cygnets finally seemed to take the hint but chose to try leaving home during the storms between 18 – 20 February. On Saturday morning one decided to rest in a car park by a nursing home in Wells. With only a couple of the team here at the Palace able to safely move a cygnet we had to call in some of the Garden team on their day off. The cygnet was safely moved on as it was in an area where it could have been hurt. Leaving the moat is very much part of the natural process for the cygnets. Each year they are encouraged to leave by their parents – and while this can look quite aggressive at times it is the Swans way of encouraging them to leave. While the cygnets try to find their way, they can sometimes take flight and do not move very far from the moat on their first attempt to leave. This can result in them ending up in various places around Wells. Unless they are in danger, such as on a road, they are best left alone so they can rest and then carry on with their next part of their journey. The team here will only intervene if absolutely necessary.
At the time of writing there is only one cygnet remaining on the moat. The last cygnet to leave the moat was the one that had been successfully ringed in 2021. A large orange tag – ABAA – was attached to the cygnets leg, by a licensed ringer, along with a smaller metal tag. The rings are registered with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and will enable the BTO to track the Cygnets movements during its life. Hopefully in the future we may be able to report when a cygnet is spotted and where they go when they leave the moat!!
You can get involved – when you are out and about and if you spot a bird with a ring on, you can make a note of their ring number, where the bird was spotted including the name of the nearest town/village along with the date spotted. This information can be reported online via
this website: www.ring.ac and don’t forget to include your details too. For more information about ringing you can contact the British Trust for Ornithology. www.bto.org/ringing, telephone 01842 750050, or you can write to them at: Ringing Scheme, British Trust for Ornithology, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU.
Do follow our social media over the coming weeks as we are hoping to have some updates about nest building. On a personal note from the “Swan Whisperer” – while driving home last week I came across a cygnet on the road who looked a little lost. After giving it a little space to catch up breath, and making sure all the oncoming traffic was aware that he was on the road, I ushed him off the road and into a field – where he took flight and continued his journey.
It is a glorious day here so after I have sent this email I am going to go for a little stroll and enjoy the snowdrops. I hope this email finds you well. Here is the latest news:
- We are recruiting new café staff. If you, or anyone you know is looking for full or part-time work please look on our website to apply https://bishopspalace.org.uk/info/jobs/
- We are also recruiting for a part-time admin member of staff https://bishopspalace.org.uk/info/jobs/
- Would anyone like to attend a study day about the reredos at St Cuthbert’s Church (see attached info)? We are happy to pay for two members of our team to attend.
- Summer opening hours: we are changing the opening times to 9:30-5:30
- Date for your diary: Thurs 31st March 3:30-4:30 (approx.) we will have a volunteer briefing to update everyone on our plans for 2022. You can attend in person or online (wonders of modern technology!) More info to follow in the training programme.
Do come in and see the snowdrops, especially in the arboretum. They look beautiful.
Hi Everyone and a very Happy New Year to you all,
sorry for the radio silence since last year! I got COVID earlier this month so have been off but am pleased to report that I am back to full fitness now. I hope that you all had a good Christmas break and managed to enjoy yourselves. 2021 was a very good year for The Bishop’s Palace as we pressed on with lots of events and welcomed many happy visitors. Next month we will have an online briefing so we can keep you all up to date with plans for 2022.
- Jan Wallwork Clarke has now started as our new CEO. Please do introduce yourselves and give her a warm welcome when you see her.
- Now for some sad new I am afraid. Gerhard Gnoyke died recently and his funeral was held on 14th Jan. Gerhard worked here for many years and then joined the volunteer team back in 2018. Many of you will know him from our shop. He was always so friendly and had a wonderful sense of humour. We shall miss him but we won’t forget him. The order of service from his funeral is up in the Bevy Room.
- Wells in Mosaic is a community project that will create a legacy for everyone to enjoy for centuries to come. The completed work, a 6 metre wide circle, in the form of a walkable map of our historic city centre, will include many other famous landmarks and features that are so familiar to us all. Here at The Bishop’s Palace we are encouraging our team and local people to help us raise funds to sponsor the image of The Bishop’s Place (£1500). Everyone who makes a donation of over £10 will receive a special certificate. All donors will be in with a chance of winning a VIP day for them and two guests at The Bishop’s Palace. This will include a special tour, lunch and a chance to feed our famous swans (if they decide they are hungry of course!). There will be another prize of an exclusive visit to the Wells in Mosaic workshop, where you and two guests will meet the artist Ruth Ames-White and see the mosaic being created. All donors will own a special little piece of history. It would also make a lovely gift. To donate online you can either click on this link https://bishopspalace.org.uk/the-bishops-palace-supports-the-wells-in-mosaic-project-with-sponsorship-opportunity/ or you can donate in person at our ticket office. If you would like to know more about Wells in Mosaic please visit the website https://www.wellsinmosaic.org/
- Two brand new tins of shoe polish have been kicking around the Bevy Room for the last couple of months. Are they yours? They are now in my safe keeping give me a shout if you want them back.
- Parking space – just a reminder that we have one parking space for the volunteer team to use each day. This needs to be booked in advance and is for people who live outside Wells and are volunteering weekly (just to save an awful lot of admin!). If you would like to book in please contact me.
- Training programme will be out soon. Apologies for the delay.
- New tickets prices: £16 People’s Ticket for adults and £8 for children. Full info attached and we will also post it on the volunteer website https://bishopspalace.org.uk/information-for-volunteers/ There is a copy in The Lodge for you to refer to if you are on the gate!
- Mendip Hospital Cemetery Exhibition – this has started and is really inspiring. Do go up to the conference room to have a look at some very moving photos of residents and learn about their lives.
- A few of you have been asking if you can have a heads up when special event tickets go on sale, the same as we do for members. So we will try to do this in future, especially for very popular events like Father Christmas.
Please have a look at our 2022 pricing list here.