ABOUT US

The museum was formed in 1893 with the objective of “maintaining a museum for the benefit of the public of the city of Wells and the Mendip area, and advancing the education of the public in the conservation, protection and improvement of the historical and natural environment of the Wells and Mendip area.”

 

Wells & Mendip Museum was founded in 1893 by Herbert E. Balch, a renowned amateur archaeologist, naturalist and caver. The museum was intended to showcase his extensive collections of historical artefacts and natural specimens. 

 

The museum was formed with the vision of “maintaining a museum for the benefit of the public of the city of Wells and the Mendip area, and advancing the education of the public in the conservation, protection and improvement of the historical and natural environment of the Wells and Mendip area.”

 

This vision remains at the core of the museum's activities.

We are still guided by our founder's principle to "Search and Learn."

 

 

To find out more about Herbert Balch and the history of the museum, please click here.

In 1932 the collections were moved from Wells Cathedral's cloisters to their current home in the former cathedral chancellors' house. The exhibits have since grown to encompass many artefacts of local and national interest in the fields of natural history, archaeology, geology, and social history.

 

Discover more about the museum's public displays here. If you would like to use the museum's collections yourself or learn more about research going on at the museum, please click here.  

The Library

The museum library contains over 10,000 items, from books and pamphlets to original maps and local records. These are available for public use, and the collection is searchable in our online library catalogues here

Wells City Archives

We also host the Wells City Archives, with a collection of documents stretching as far back as the 12th century. Wells City Council is the custodian of the City Archives, but they are housed in the museum on a long term loan. The archives are available for public use. You will find many hidden gems, from the oldest Wells City Charter of 1174, to a stunning wax seal of King Henry VIII. For further details please visit the Wells City Archives page here.

Wells Natural History & Archaeological Society

Wells & Mendip Museum is intimately linked with the Wells Natural History & Archaeological Society (WNHAS). Herbert Balch was one of the society's original members, and it has been instrumental in the foundation and operation of the museum. The society still runs a busy programme of talks and excursions. For more information, and to join, please visit the society's page here

The Museum Building

The oldest parts of the museum building date from the 15th century, but most of the areas on view are from the 17th and 18th centuries. Archaeological excavations in the museum's garden, however, have revealed material from as far back as the 11th or early-12th century. This includes a rather characterful stone head, probably from the original Norman cathedral. To discover more about the building, we recommend Gill Pettitt's Wells & Mendip Museum: A Biography, available as a free download here.

Museum Details
 

Wells & Mendip Museum is an Accredited Museum under the Arts Council Accreditation Scheme.

The museum is also a member of the Association of Independent Museums and a registered charity (no. 200738). As an independent museum we rely on donations, admission charges and the efforts of our volunteers.

 

If you would like to make a donation or offer your time, please visit the Support Us page here.  

Individual contacts can be found on the Contact Us page

 

Wells & Mendip Museum

Wells & Mendip Museum

Wells & Mendip Museum viewed from the Cathedral Green.

Wells & Mendip Museum

Wells & Mendip Museum

The front garden of the museum, with the Hokerstone (left) and the Harry Patch war memorial (right).

The Cathedral from the Walled Garden

The Cathedral from the Walled Garden

Wells Cathedral seen towering over the museum from the Walled Garden.

The Walled Garden

The Walled Garden

A primrose display in the museum's Walled Garden.

The Front Garden

The Front Garden

On display in the front garden of the museum is the Harry Patch war memorial and the mysterious Hokerstone (find out more on the 'research' page).

The Front Garden

The Front Garden

The front garden with an excellent view of the mysterious Hokerstone (find out more on the 'research' page).

Christmas lights at the museum

Christmas lights at the museum

Christmas at the museum - looking across the misty Cathedral Green.

Christmas lights at the museum

Christmas lights at the museum

Christmas at the museum - looking across the misty Cathedral Green.

Harry Patch Memorial Wells Museum

Harry Patch Memorial Wells Museum

The Harry Patch memorial situated on the museum's front garden.

Harry Patch memorial plaque_edited

Harry Patch memorial plaque_edited

The plaque on the Harry Patch memorial - "The Last Fighting Tommy."

Google Digital Garage at the museum

Google Digital Garage at the museum

Google visits the museum for a Digital Garage event, 2018.

The Cathedral Green

The Cathedral Green

View of Wells Cathedral's West Front, looking across the Cathedral Green to the museum.

Museum across the Cathedral Green

Museum across the Cathedral Green

Wells & Mendip Museum viewed from across the West Front of the Cathedral.

The Cathedral Green

The Cathedral Green

View of Wells Cathedral's West Front across the Cathedral Green.

The Cathedral Green

The Cathedral Green

View of the Cathedral Green, on the museum's doorstep.

Vicars' Close - a short walk away!

Vicars' Close - a short walk away!

Vicars' Close, dating from the 14th century.

Arms of Wells

Arms of Wells

The Arms of the City of Wells, on display in the museum's outer lobby.

A Museum Shop Display

A Museum Shop Display

The museum shop offers a range of items, from books and guides to fossils and minerals.

The Jurassic Sea Dragon

The Jurassic Sea Dragon

This beautifully preserved example of an ichthyosaur is unmissable in the museum lobby.

Herbert Balch

Herbert Balch

Herbert E. Balch (1869 - 1958) was the founder of the museum.

Dedication to Herbert Balch

Dedication to Herbert Balch

This plaque can be found on the front of the museum next to the main entrance.

The Museum in Balch's Day

The Museum in Balch's Day

The room pictured is now the museum shop and reception area.

The Museum in Balch's Day

The Museum in Balch's Day

The room pictured is now the museum shop and reception area.

Website Accessibility Statement 

Click here to read our accessibility statement

Virgin money giving donate button

Admission

Adult

Child

Family

Student

£3

£1

£6

£1

FREE ENTRY
Opening Hours
Saturdays only, 10am-4pm
We are currently operating reduced hours following the COVID-19 lockdown.

  • Facebook - Black Circle
  • Twitter - Black Circle
  • Instagram - Black Circle

Registered Charity 200738