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Vicars' Close

Location

Somerset Map

OS Ref: ST 551 460

Last Visited: 2008

Vicars' Close from the Top

Vicars' Close from the Top

The Vicars╩╝ Close in Wells claims to be the oldest purely residential street in Europe with nearly all its original buildings still surviving intact. It is slightly unsettling, therefore, that at first glance it looks like any number of late Georgian or early Victorian terraced streets. It is only when you start to look at the architectural detailing that you realise that it was built in the mid-14th century.

The oldest building, the Vicars╩╝ Hall and Gateway, was built in 1348 and the rest were completed by 1412 as accommodation for the Vicars Choral, priests whose duty was to chant divine service eight times a day.

One interesting little quirk; when viewed from the main entrance at the bottom of the hill it looks longer than it does when viewed from top. This is because the width tapers by about 3m (10ft), presumably to create a deliberate optical illusion.