January 2020 News

Date Posted : January 24th, 2020

It feels like it has been a very busy year for the City of Wells Almshouses and set out below is a summary of our recent achievements together with an outline of our plans for the future.

The Sedilia

It is a very significant architectural feature on the front of Brick’s almshouse, in the form of a stone seating arrangement known as a Sedilia. It was constructed as a place of prayer and is a rare exterior example since Sedilia are usually found inside churches, for use by officiating clergy. Our Sedilia, for example, has become much loved by photographers, who use it as a backdrop for wedding photographs and, in a general sense, it has become acknowledged as an interesting, historic feature in the heart Wells.
Now we are happy to record that the Sedilia, which was badly in need of repair, has been painstakingly restored to its former glory by a specialist Conservator, Sally Strachey Historic Conservation, and her staff, and is now in a fine condition for our residents, the people of Wells and our visitors from far and wide to enjoy for generations to come. We are thrilled with the results and our thanks go to Mendip Council Conservation planners, Sally Strachey and her team and the four charities who gave us grants to support this important renovation project. We were also delighted that the Dean of Wells, The Very Reverend Dr John Davies, blessed the Sedilia at our recent Founders’ Day service.


CWA’s Energy Award

The Almshouses have now been recognised for conserving energy in the South West Energy Efficiency Awards scheme. Trustees and management were congratulated for committing to a project to upgrade the thermal effectiveness of the Almshouses’ historic windows, some of which date from the mid-15th century. Pictured below, at the award ceremony are Nick Wilson (right), our Chair of Trustees, with Mukti Mitchell from Mitchell & Dickinson who installed the windows.


CWA – January 2020 

Almshouse Open Days During the year we have continued to open our almshouses to the public to raise awareness of what is a ‘hidden gem’ within the city of Wells. To this end we have increased our number of open days to three and they have been truly successful. We also benefitted from fine weather on all three occasions and welcomed more people than ever before to view our gardens and beautiful buildings. Also, this
year, two of our residents kindly opened their homes to visitors all of whom remarked upon their high standards of décor and finish. At the events there were excellent
homemade cakes baked by our residents and Trustees together with freshly prepared ploughman’s lunches. Our thanks go to the local businesses who once again contributed ingredients for our ploughman’s lunches and to all those who worked so hard to make the days such a success. In the picture above the Grey Dogs Jazz Band can be seen entertaining visitors at our July open day; they proved to be very popular and we hope that they will return next year.

Conversion of 16/17 Llewellyn’s

The completion of the conversion of 16 Llewellyn’s into two properties in January 2019 has enabled CWA to provide one additional home for an older person. This means we now have 3 residents. We were delighted that the Right Worshipful Mayor of Wells, Celia Wride, joined us and cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony. Guests were invited to look
around the new properties which offer the residents secondary glazing, gas central heating, modern fitted kitchens and wet rooms. Also, late in 2019, the residents hosted an opening ceremony for ‘the pavilion’ at Llewellyn’s Almshouses which replaces the communal room lost when the conversion of 16 Llewellyn’s took place. This has
provided residents with a facility which can be used throughout the year and it quickly became a popular venue for socialising.


Staff Changes

This year we said farewell to Laura Baxter, our Financial Controller and welcomed her replacement, Patrick McMahon.

Future Plans: The Chapel

Our fundraising committee has been working throughout the year to progress the planned refurbishment of the Almshouse chapel and a pre-application for the works will be lodged with Mendip District Council early in 2020. We were also delighted when Mrs Annie Maw, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset, agreed to be our Patron for the project and we are most grateful for her support.

As part of our fundraising we have begun to hold events in the chapel and it was full to bursting on the evening of 20th November with a delighted audience as storyteller Beth Webb and harpist Nicola Devine recounted the tragic tale of the Death of Arthur, a story of  love, romance, betrayal, loss, revenge and hope. As the costs and expenses had been covered by sponsorship in advance, all the proceeds went to the refurbishment of the Chapel. The evening finished with a glass of wine in the Almshouses Guild Room and, as Chair of the Trustees Nick Wilson said at the close of the performance: “Another unusual but splendid event proved what a perfect space the Chapel provides for intimate performances and activities.” (a photograph of the event is shown above). It is
hoped that the Chapel, once the refurbishment is complete, will host many more such events and become a regular venue for the people of Wells and the surrounding area.

The Guild Room

A group of residents and Trustees have been working on the upgrading of the Guild Room to make it more user friendly for residents. To date the heating has been replaced and new furnishings have been chosen and purchased and a new kitchen installed. Importantly we have now received listed building consent to secondary glaze the two historic windows in the Guild Room and it is anticipated that the work will take place in early January 2020.

The Old Mortuary

We have also commissioned architects for the redevelopment of the old mortuary building into further Almshouse accommodation and an ecological survey has been completed. The next step will be for Trustees to agree the proposed design of the building, apply for planning permission and undertake consultation with interested parties. It has been agreed that the planned new almshouse will be known as ‘Harpers’ (subject to gaining official permission) as the development is being funded from the capital receipt received from the sale of an almshouse named Harpers which was
located in Chamberlain Street, Wells.


Dates for your diary

Our open days: Saturday 20 June and Saturday 25 July 2020 – 11.00am to 4.00pm

Heritage Open Day: Saturday 19 September 2020 – 11am – 4.00pm


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