Thursday, 5 September 2013


Following the dizzying heights of our odo-tastic day in the Levels, we decided to spend a gentle Monday in a more meditative mood and quiet contemplation. Forsaking the old myths and New Age distractions of Glastonbury (for the time being), we journeyed a little farther afield.

In the afternoon, we drove to Wells, England's smallest city, and home to an impressive 13th Century Cathedral. The town grew up around several springs that er... spring from the foot of the Mendip Hills. Although the first recorded church on the site was Anglo Saxon, such is the symbolism of springs that I'm sure humans would have gathered at such a spot for millennia.

Wandering through the magnificent medieval buildings of the Cathedral, we came across an interpretation room, housed in an undercroft located beneath the Chapter House. This gave some history of the site and also a little geology of the stone used in the construction of the Cathedral. I find it most comforting that an Anglican order can discuss rocks that are aeons old; Oolithic Limestone (from 200 million years ago) and even more ancient Old Red Sandstone (laid down 400 million years ago).  

We then pottered into the grounds of the Bishop's Palace, where the afore-mentioned springs are located, and where our contemplative reverie was only occasionally disturbed by a passing dragonfly.

Earlier in the day, the morning had been spent in the town of Wincanton. Hence the 'pilgrimage' of this post's title. Wincanton is twinned with Ankh-Morpork, a city state on the edge of the Circle Sea, set in (Sir) Terry Pratchett's Discworld. Whilst town twinning doesn't usually incorporate fictional places, especially ones from another universe, Wincanton's association with Discworld is down to artist Bernard Pearson, otherwise known as the Cunning Artificer. Located on the town's High Street, his Discworld Emporium also doubles as the Ankh-Morpork Consulate. Additionally, on one of Wincanton's housing estates, several roads are named after Ankh-Morpork streets. It's all quite bizarre, really, even if you have read the odd book from Discworld.

I was particularly taken with the randomly-discarded banana skins on the book shelves*. A nice touch.

* The Librarian is an orang-utan.**

** A bit of a magical accident but opposable toes are handy for climbing book shelves.


Martin said...

Lovely description, I didn't know Wincanton was such an interesting place.

Did you find the street of low houses and arched doorways to get into the yards in Wells? It is just around the corner from the Cathedral if memory serves, and I felt like a giant.

Wells and the Mendips are also rather good for those who enjoy a friendly bit of pot-holing and wriggling through narrow wet dark passageways....

Imperfect and Tense said...

I would recommend a visit to all of these places. The juxtaposition of a fantasy world that's a parody of our own and a complex of buildings standing on the foundations of deep faith was a bit surreal.

Tried pot-holing many years ago, not too far from this area. It was ok, but I think I knew even then, if there's no dragons, it's not for me.

Ruth Walker said...

Is the Emporium on a hill? Or it is the photographer? :P And is it just me or is the Emporium winking at me?

Imperfect and Tense said...

Yes, yes and possibly!