Bishop’s Barn and Wells Recreation Ground to be offered back to community
WELLS’ historic Bishop's Barn and the neighbouring Recreation Ground are to be offered back to the local community after almost half a century of Mendip District Council control.
The news has been greeted with enthusiasm in the city. Kirstie Harris of Wake Up Wells, which has campaigned to transfer ownership of the amenities back to the city, said: “We are absolutely delighted. The Barn has so much potential for community use and we hope this initiative will give it a whole new lease of life.”
In anticipation of an agreement that the assets can be handed over with suitable assurance for the safeguarding of them, Leader of Mendip District Council, Councillor Ros Wyke, is offering in the first instance a three-year lease arrangement to Wells City Council to enable the Barn to flourish and thrive for the community.
Cllr Wyke said: “We want to increase the use of this wonderful building both for local people and for tourists and in the longer term return it completely to the community. We are hoping the lease will start in the spring.”
The Bishop’s Barn is a 15th century Great Barn – one of only 200 remaining in the UK. Once part of The Bishop’s Palace estate, it was used for storing grain needed for bread and beer making. Today, it is protected as a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument of national significance.
The Wells Recreation Ground is a public open space with a bandstand, bowling green, toilet block, children’s play area, and an informal kick-about space.
The ancient Barn and the land around it was gifted to the citizens of Wells for community activity in 1887 and was well-used for many years under the direction of the city’s aldermen who ran the local administration. However, local government reorganisation meant the newly created Mendip District Council was handed control of the Barn and Recreation Ground in 1974.