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Wells Natural History & Archaeological Society (WNHAS) was founded in 1888 to encourage the practical study of natural history, archaeology and related subjects in Wells and the surrounding countryside. The society is still active, with a busy programme of lectures and summer excursions.


Wells Natural History & Archaeological Society


The history of Wells & Mendip Museum is intertwined with that of the Wells Natural History & Archaeological Society. The society was formed in 1888, and Herbert Balch, the founder of the museum, was one of its original members. 


The society has a programme of winter lectures and a series of summer walks and excursions to places of interest in the region. The current programme is posted below. 


As well as free access to the society's talks, members may use the museum and its facilities without charge. To join WNHAS, please download and complete the application form, and return it to the secretary at a meeting, drop it off at the front desk, or post as indicated on the form.

President: Allen Cotton, O.B.E.

Chair: Stuart M Munns, O.B.E.
Hon. Treasurer: Ms Jane Burman



Indoor meetings are held in The Lecture Hall at Wells & Mendip Museum


Non-members of the Society are very welcome (£2.00)

'Battling Bishops'
Revd Dr Mark Hutchinson

1 Dec 2023


7:30 pm

Mark is a member of the Society and has stood at the speaker’s rostrum before. This time he is talking about the intense rivalry between the Bishop of Bath and Wells’ men and the Abbot Bishop of Glastonbury’s men between 1173 and 1493.
'The Mendip Hospital and its Patients - the Victorian/Edwardian history of the Somerset and Bath County Pauper Asylum 1848 to 1923'
Clare Blackmore

2 Feb 2024


2:30 pm

Clare Blackmore is Vice Chair of the Friends of the Mendip Hospital Cemetery, a three acre plot of land off the Bath Road in Wells, which is the last resting place of some 3,000 souls who were patients at the Asylum, later the Wells Mental Hospital and latterly the Mendip Hospital, which closed in 1991. The talk will tell some of their stories and the ethos of their treatment and care.
'A Visible History of King’s Castle Wood' (following the AGM of the Society)
David Cottle

8 Mar 2024


7:30 pm

Between 1987 and 2022 David was the voluntary warden for the Somerset Wildlife Trust’s King’s Castle Wood. Although mainly interested in the wildlife found there, he became more aware of its history as his involvement grew. Even today, much of the history remains visible to any visitor to the reserve.
'Don’t forget the Animals'
Steve Tofts

5 Apr 2024


6:30 pm

After 40 years practicing as a Veterinary Surgeon Steve graduated in archaeology and brought the two disciplines together in Zooarchaeology – the study of animals in an archaeological context. His talk aims to introduce the subject, and what it tells us of the human community. So often animal remains are dismissed as not interesting; he hopes to prove otherwise! If anyone likes to bring a bone for him to look at, he could maybe fit that in at the end of his talk.
'Leigh Down Stone Circles'
A visit led by the owner, Nic Colton

2 May 2024


10:30 am

Booking forms and details for this visit will be available nearer the date. The tour takes about 3 hours and participants will be asked to bring a picnic.
'The Stones of Wells'
A walking tour of the city led by Doug Robinson

6 Jun 2024


9:30 am

A look at the diversity and origins of some ancient building materials in the city. Booking forms and details will be available nearer the date.
'Excavate at Villa Rustica'
A visit led by Andrew Buchanan

16 Jul 2024


9:30 am

A chance not only to visit but also to assist in excavating the Roman villa at Westbury sub Mendip. Details and booking forms will be available nearer the date.
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