Hot weather reveals hidden past at Bishop’s Palace

The heatwave that has swept the nation since June has had a “very revealing” effect on the gardens of The Bishop’s Palace in Wells, a spokesperson has said.

Following over six weeks of very dry weather, and head gardener James Cross’ decision to save resources by not watering the lawns at the palace, the famous South Lawn has turned from a verdant green to a parched, beige version of its former glory, with very interesting consequences.

In the last few days, some strange patterns have begun to appear, leading researchers to open the archives to investigate what could have caused the curious angles and designs to be revealed.

The palace spokesperson added: “A very clear L-shape is now evident on one side of the lawn, which, when viewed in conjunction with John Carters’ 1790s Map of Wells, is clearly the outline of a former Dutch-style canal feature, thought to have been laid out in the 17th-Century.

“These gardens were thought to have been redesigned in 1820s by Bishop Law who preferred the Picturesque style which was popular in Victorian times.”

Head gardener James Cross and the South Lawn patterns

Jonathan Sawyer, development project manager at The Bishop’s Palace said the discovery was “exciting” as the palace was steeped in history.

He added: “We know that people were drawn to the well pools in our gardens as far back as the Bronze Age so it is so exciting when new stories emerge in exceptional circumstances like this hot, dry spell.

“The gardeners may not enjoy it, but it all adds to our understanding of this beautiful site.”

‘Sunburnt’ outline of canal feature, plus an unidentified structure in the centre of the lawn

The Bishop’s Palace is the 800-year-old home of the Bishops of Bath and Wells, and is managed by The Palace Trust.

The medieval palace is also home to the wells and ancient springs that give the City of Wells its name, the world famous mute swans that ring a bell alongside the Gatehouse when they want their food, and 14-acres of gardens.

For more information on opening times and admission charges, check out the official The Bishop’s Palace website.

The Editor

Hello! I'm KATE, a journalist, editor and broadcaster with 20 years experience in the industry. I have worked at the BBC, ITV, Heart and Sky Sports News. I've lived in Somerset for most of my life and set up LOVE SOMERSET ONLINE in 2016. I love the seaside and am partial to a good gin and tonic.

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