Wells is one of the UK’s most important ecclesiastical sites, but the Bishop’s Palace has a complex architectural history that is not always easy for the visitor to interpret. Parts of the palace buildings date back to the thirteenth century and the site was continually re-developed and adapted by the Bishops of Bath and Wells. As is the case with many medieval buildings that are still in use today, communicating this long history represents a considerable challenge.
The connecting thread throughout the palace’s history lies in its name and the well pools in the palace grounds provide the starting point for a virtual tour from prehistory to the present day. The history of the palace is re-told through the use of water over the centuries, ranging from the creation of the moat in the fourteenth century, the building of a new well house in the fifteenth and the design of the nineteenth-century water garden.
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The animation is projected onto the floor of the medieval underground in the oldest part of the palace, with the visitor given the impression that they are looking down a well. Changes of perspective, lighting and in the weather conditions are all used to communicate different phases in the palace’s history.