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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1862

Saturday 16th

16 August 1862

Monday 18th

18 August 1862
17 August 1862
Sunday 17th



Wells is a Cathedral town of great antiquity. It is a little puzzling to conjecture what gave it growth originally, for I imagine it has long ceased to feel that impulse. The only attraction now is the Church, in which we attended Divine service in the morning. The Bishop was present and preached the Sermon. The chanting was fair but not the charity children in St Paul’s church. And I have since met with him in society. I think it was at dinner at Sir Henry Holland’s. He seems to me a very ordinary man. As a younger son he was put into the church, but by the death of his brothers he is now a peer as well as a bishop. After service we examined this fine ancient number of statues upon it, which are said to date prior to the revival of art in Italy. The interior is highly attractive. It has not the sombre character which commonly marks these edifices—And the vista from the chair through into the Lady Chapel is so far as I have seen unique. Another peculiarity is the invented arches at the transepts—and still another the somewhat grotesque sculpture under the capitals of the columns. The crypt and Chapter House and Cloisters all contribute to the completeness of the whole. There may have been as many as sixty or seventy person to worship in this temple today. Like all the rest of these buildings in England much pains have been taken of late to put it in complete repair. It is certainly well worth seeing. The Bishop’s palace which176 stands like an old castle surrounded by a wide moat full f water is not visible when he is here. It marks a period long gone by. Indeed every thing about the place looks like a pretty petrification. Having seen all of this that was accessible, the next thing was to dine six miles to Glastonbury in order to look at the ruins of the Abbey there. As they are now included in a private domain, it was not without difficulty that we obtain permission to go in the this day of the week. Glastonbury was the earliest and became one of the richest of the Monastic Institutions of England when Henry the 8th put his hand upon it. Not much is now left of the Abby, but that little gives us some idea of its quality. The most complete remnant is the walls of the chapel which stood in front of the Church. Its style is peculiar but quaint and elegant. Behind is enough of the larger edifice to supply a notion of its extant and character. This too has undergone a process of clearing up which detracts from the sentiment. The clouds threatened so that we hastened away home. But when we got back it was clear again, and I walked off with Henry and Brooks in quest of a cave called in the guide books Wookey Hole. After two miles of rather a pretty road we found the house where admission was to be obtained. But the inmates cannot at home, and it was growing so late that we were obliged to leave at once. Thus was finished our exploration of Wells.

Cite web page as:

Charles Francis Adams, Sr., [date of entry], diary, in Charles Francis Adams, Sr.: The Civil War Diaries (Unverified Transcriptions). Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2015. http://www.masshist.org/publications/cfa-civil-war/view?id=DCA62d229