Wells is a lot of things and some of them are more complimentary than others. For one, Wells is one of the smallest cities in all of England and much of the U.K. Only the very loosely defined City of London is considered to have a smaller population than Wells' meager ten and a half thousand or so citizens but the strength, power, and fortitude of a city has never had to do only with its population. For posterity's sake, however, we must also point out that there is only one other city in the United Kingdom aside from Wells and the City of London that has a smaller population and that is the similarly thrown together statistical "city" of St. David's in Wales. All that aside, though, we are not here to deride the size of Wells but only to point it out in the effort to show just how much history, glory, and grandeur is possible in even the smallest of cities if only a little bit of character and bravery are displayed in certain instances.
A good starting point is way back in the eighth century when the English Empire was little more than a pipe dream and much of the continent was struggling in the formative years between the collapse of Rome as a superpower and the rise of Saxon tribes all about the island that would eventually assume the form of the future of the United Kingdom. Even in those days Wells was an integral and essential town as it was one of the first areas of England to have a permanent cathedral that was not strictly an Abbey or a hastily-built house of worship. Much strife would occur when the city would feud with Bath over the construction of these relics and the intricacies of that ancient struggle are too numerous to list here. Suffice to say, though, that Wells has been a figure in the public eye for far longer than most of us would assume.
Another great example can be found in the complicated and disorienting world of the English Civil War. In this instance, the city was one of the most cherished and beloved stopping grounds for soldiers that were looking to train, drink, make love, and sometimes a combination of the three. The city was also the last place that the American hero William Penn visited before his fateful trip to the New World. Penn was in fact arrested during one of his tenures in Wells and part of the blame went to the combative folks that were from, once again, our old sister-city Bath. Remember that Bath is another old and historical city and the differences between the two were not as pronounced as one might assume and were in fact almost akin to arguments between the siblings. After all, they were both small towns based on Catholic roots and they were and are rather near to one another. Either way, William Penn probably didn't have this on his mind when he was briefly incarcerated in Wells. What he was likely aware of, and what we can still see today, is the fact that Wells is beautiful, unique, historical, and fascinating. A trip to the city can still prove to be an enlightening experience whether or not you see the inside of a jail cell. On the other hand, a night in a Wells jail just might lead you to the discovery of a new continent.
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