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41 40 weLLs CATheDRAL built on springs the building of a church beside the great spring at Wells, five miles northeast of Glastonbury took place about 705 AD during the reign of King Ine of Wessex. this church was extended and rebuilt until work began on a cathedral in 1176. A magnifi cent Gothic edifice with high pointed arches and clustered columns, Wells cathedral was similar in many respects to the Abbey of Glastonbury, only it survived whereas Glastonbury did not. the west front has the largest array of mediaeval sculpture surving from the 12th and 13th centuries in Britain, consisting mostly of saints, kings and ecclesiastics. the great scissor arches which support the cathedral s central tower are similar to those once present at Glastonbury Abbey. the octagonal chapter house with its central pillar and fan tracery is particularly fine. there is also a moated Bishop s Palace and a street of mediaeval houses, known as Vicar s close, dating from about 1350. the cathedral has a mediaeval clock made in about 1390. the outer circle of its dial has the 24 hours marked round it and a pointer tipped with the sun shows the current hour. Inside this another concentric circle has minutes which are indicated by a smaller sun pointer. Within that an inner circle shows the age and phase of the moon. on a platform above the clock, model knights on horseback joust on contrarotating mechanisms whenever the quarter hour strikes. the same knight is always struck down by his victorious opponent coming round in the opposite direction. Above left The Wells Cathedral clock is a representation of the mediaeval universe with earth at the centre and the sun going round it, highest at noon at the top of the clock and lowest at midnight. Above the earth are the stars and in the corners of the heavens angels are to be found. Above right Abbot Whiting s chair, now in Wells. Below An 1850s view of the Cathedral.
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