the time Henry VIII came to the throne the cathedral
and all its surrounding buildings were complete and
substantially as they are today. It was during the reign
of his son Edward VI, that a distinctly protestant style
came to the fore, not only in theological matters but
in outward appearance as well. Following the dissolution
of the chantries in 1547 and the consequent lack of
income, medieval brasses were sold off, and a pulpit
was placed in the nave for the first time. The painted
stonework was covered with white limewash.
After the disruptive period of Mary Tudor's reign, Elizabeth
I was determined to restore harmony to her church. In
Wells, she gave both the Chapter and the Vicars' Choral
a new charter in 1591 and a period of relative stability
ensued. This however came to an abrupt end with the
onset of the civil war and the execution of Charles
During the fighting a considerable amount of damage
was done, to stonework, furniture and windows. The dean
at this time was Dr. Walter Ralegh, a nephew of Queen
Elizabeth's favourite Sir Walter. So much chaos reigned
that any attempt at administration was impossible. Dr.
Ralegh was imprisoned after the fall of Bridgwater to
the parliamentarians in 1645, brought back to Wells
and confined in the deanery. The next year, following
a dispute with his "gaoler" , the dean was
stabbed and eventually died. He is buried in an unmarked
grave before his stall in the quire.
The Commonwealth period under Oliver Cromwell saw great
dilapidation and indifference towards the fabric of
the Cathedral. No dean was appointed after Dr Ralegh,
the bishop was in retirement and some clergy were reduced
to performing menial tasks or begging on the streets.
Thieves made off with lead and moveables.