Unexpected filming spoilt visit to Wells

June 29 2021

MY wife and I had a disappointing experience of Wells as first-time visitors recently.

Based in Dinder, we saved Wells for our last full day in the area, Thursday, June 3, expecting it to be the highlight of our trip. Alas, we were unimpressed to discover that half of the Cathedral and all The Bishop’s Palace and Gardens were closed to the public during a school holiday week, because of filming.

We didn’t see any advance notifications about these closures on the Visit Wells and Visit Somerset websites which we checked daily in the fortnight before our visit. Any advance online information for prospective visitors certainly wasn’t upfront and centre on those destination websites; not even a standing note advising readers to check the individual attraction websites. Afterwards, we eventually found reference to the June 3 closure deep in the Palace website and, as I write today (June 9) the Cathedral website homepage displays a footer giving information about further closures due to filming this week. I’m not sure such an ‘add-on’ was in place for last week.

The duty lady in the visitor information centre told me they weren’t aware of the closure in advance. The Wells Ambassador who greeted us as we approached the Cathedral probably was but, “Welcome to Wells – 75 per cent of our main attractions are closed today” isn’t a great opening line so we can understand why he left us to discover it for ourselves.

We were crushingly disappointed. Instead of staying in Wells all day we left about 1pm and went to Bruton where we spent the remainder of the day and a considerable amount of money. Will we return to Wells or recommend it to our friends? Doubtful. Once bitten, twice shy. Wells needs to up its visitor welcome and management game.

John Wrightson

• In response, Visit Wells said: “We’re very sorry to hear that these visitors had such a disappointing visit. As we understand it from Wells Cathedral and The Bishop’s Palace, the contracts with filming companies are often signed at very short notice (2-3 days in advance), and the organisations cannot publicise in advance the closures until contracts are signed. Both organisations had put notices on their own websites advising of the closures. The Visit Wells social media channels are designed to let potential visitors know about all the options available to tourists throughout the year and to highlight the beauty and history of Wells, they are not used to advertise closures of individual attractions, and we strongly recommend that visitors should always check the website of a particular attraction, or by telephone, to avoid disappointment.”