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The Bishop's Palace and Gardens

Add The Bishop's Palace and Gardens to your Itinerary

The Bishop's Palace and Gardens


Off Market Place


Tel: 01749 988111

Home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells for 800 years, this stunning medieval palace is open for all to enjoy. Surrounded by a breathtaking moat, cross the flagstone drawbridge, to experience a true hidden gem in the heart of the City of Wells. You are also welcome to look around the Bishop’s private Chapel, explore the ruined Great Hall and meet the famous mute swans who live alongside the moat and ring a bell when they want food.

Discover the origins of the City of Wells within the ancient walls of The Bishop’s Palace; the ancient springs that give the City its name are found in the gardens here and have been hugely significant from the Iron Age to the present day; for centuries people have flocked to England’s smallest city, Wells, to benefit from the waters.

The palace was built in medieval times and has been office and home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells for over 800 years. It was constructed after Bishop Jocelin Trotman received permission to build a residence and deer park south of the Cathedral of St Andrew in the early 13th Century. Inside is a stunning medieval vaulted Undercroft, the elegant Long Gallery with portraits of Bishops and exhibition spaces with frequently updated exhibitions.

Visitors can enjoy 14 acres of RHS partner gardens to explore, stunning gardens including formal planting, picturesque style gardens, a moat and waterfall, well pools and springs, an arboretum, a Victorian romantic garden with ruins, and a new community garden and contemporary garden of reflection. RHS Members will be entitled to visit the Gardens for free during the Winter months.

The Palace is world famous for its resident mute swans that ring a bell alongside the Gatehouse when they want to be fed. Throughout the summer months, the Palace has a range of activities and events including outdoor theatre, children’s activities, musical performances and medieval-themed entertainment!


Family Fun

We’ve got so much for families to do at The Bishop’s Palace - whatever the weather, you can always have a great day out. The next Family Fun Friday will take place on 28th July and then every Friday throughout the school holidays.


New for 2017: “The Dragon’s Lair”

The Dragon’s Lair is a new and interactive discovery area is designed around the themes and stories of the Palace. Taking inspiration from Dragon’s Wings, Well Pools & Water, Trees and History, this outdoor natural activity space will exercise both minds and bodies with a pole jungle, tree pods, a waterwheel and sluice gates.

This year, let your imagination run wild at The Bishop’s Palace in Wells. Cross the Drawbridge to receive the ancient story map and use your wits to lead you through the Palace Gardens to experience The Dragon’s Lair! The only question is – Dare you enter The Dragon’s Lair? 


The Bishop’s Table Café

The Bishop’s Table was named after Bishop’s Ken’s tradition of inviting twelve poor men and women of Wells to share a meal at his table when in residence at the Palace. Bishop Ken was Bishop here from 1685-1691.

The Bishop’s Palace and its café, The Bishop’s Table are delighted to be welcoming a new team of highly experienced chefs to the site. Head Chef Nick Hampson and Sous Chef Daniel Friend have both come to the Palace from their previous equivalent roles at the highly regarded Bocabar in Glastonbury, which was awarded a Gold and Silver Taste the West Award under Nick’s kitchen management. Nick has previously been Head Chef at The Sheppey Inn in Godney and The Crown in Wells and also worked at Yeo Valley HQ in Blagdon. Daniel was formerly Head Chef at The Wookey Hole Inn and the Horts Inn, Bristol, and Sous Chef at The Sheppey Inn.

Located in the heart of the visitor area lies The Bishop’s Table café, with a view like no other in Wells. With free access to everyone, all you need to do is cross the drawbridge and you’ll see the award-winning building nestled under the trees overlooking the croquet lawn and Palace buildings. Serving delicious, locally-sourced homemade food and some of the best coffee and cake you will find in Wells, it is the perfect place to meet friends for brunch, lunch or afternoon tea. Come and say hello to our friendly in-house team.

See the current menu here.


Venue Hire

The Bishop’s Palace has been a centre of hospitality for over 800 years and this unique venue has an experienced team ready to plan your perfect event. This could be a relaxed family celebration, a concert supper, a formal evening dinner or a corporate event. Let us arrange your special occasion, leaving you free to enjoy the day and spend time with your guests.

Great emphasis is placed on the quality of the food at the Bishop’s Palace and we have a dedicated team who are involved in every stage of the preparation and planning. Our team are committed to using only the most seasonal produce, locally sourced; they really do know a thing or two about food.

The stunning medieval Entrance Hall with impressive log fire never fails to wow guests. It’s also the perfect location for you to meet and greet and for us to serve welcome drinks and canapés. Adjacent to the garden terrace, allowing you to entertain in all weathers, the Entrance Hall is either a fantastic place to begin your event or a stunning venue in itself.

The medieval Undercroft is available for hire in the evening or out of season during the day for celebration parties, wedding receptions, anniversary and fundraising events. Suitable for up to 60 guests for a dinner and dance or 120 for dinner the Undercroft certainly makes for a very special venue which your guests will talk about for years to come.

The Bishop’s Table is a wonderful venue for smaller, less formal parties and events. Suitable for up to 40 guests we can offer drinks and canapés on arrival, on the terrace overlooking the croquet lawn across to the Palace, before you dine in style inside.


Special Events

Are you passionate about music or the arts and need a venue for a special event? Or maybe you have always longed to hold a Christmas or Antiques Fair and have just never quite found the right place? We offer indoor and outdoor spaces suitable for a wide range of events and with expert guidance on hand to ensure things run smoothly, you can’t help but succeed.

Please contact Kelly Emery Functions Manager on 01749 988111 to discuss your idea or make an appointment to see the venue.


Make a Day of it in Wells!

With its attractive shopping centre packed full of independent retailers and high street names, and the surrounding area can provide visitors with a full and varied itinerary. Our neighbour, Wells Cathedral “the most poetic of the English Cathedrals” and adjacent medieval Vicars’ Close – the oldest continually inhabited residential street in Europe. If you’re visiting on a Wednesday or Saturday the Somerset Farmers Market is a real treat; packed with local food producers and right in the heart of the city. Weston-super-Mare, Glastonbury Abbey, Wookey Hole and other local Somerset attractions are just a short distance away.

Opening Times

The Bishop's Palace and Gardens (7 Jan 2018 - 31 Dec 2018)

* WINTER: 10am – 4pm
(from 30 October through to 26 March)

Last admission is 30 minutes before closing time.

Closure for Winter 2017 - 23rd December 2017 - 6th January 2018

Dates and times marked with a '*' are provisional and may be subject to change

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