Royal couple spend time at charity base, almshouses and Palace during visit

WELLS welcomed Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester to the city on Monday, October 16, for a visit that included calls at the City of Wells Almshouses, Heads Up and The Bishop’s Palace.

The Duke and Duchess were welcomed to The Bishop’s Palace by the Chair of the Palace Trust, Roger Hawes, who presented Interim CEO of the Trust, Merryn Kidd.

During their visit, Their Royal Highnesses were introduced to Community Engagement Manager, Siobhan Goodwin, who discussed recent initiatives benefiting the local community. They were then guided through the 14 acres of RHS partner gardens to the Well Pools by Head Gardener, James Cross, who highlighted the changes that have taken place to the gardens over his 20-year tenure.

Their Royal Highnesses also officially opened the newly created Coronation Room in the Palace which houses the Coronation Cope worn at the coronations of King Edward VII, King George V, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II. Katy Love, Property Manager and Exhibitions Curator, talked the royal party through the new exhibits in the room.

Merryn Kidd said: “It was a huge honour to welcome Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester to The Bishop’s Palace and we were particularly pleased to be able to officially open our new Coronation Room as part of their visit.”

Before their tour of the Palace, the Duke visited the City of Wells Almshouses, and the Duchess visited the Heads Up charity at South Horrington.

The Duke, who is Vice Royal Patron of The Almshouse Association, had a tour of the almshouse buildings, which provide 33 units of accommodation for older people in the city, and met residents and the Board of Trustees.

During his tour he visited the Bubwith Chapel – the medieval chapel in the heart of Wells that was built in the 15th century and is currently subject to a heritage project to restore it into a new community space in Wells, with the help of a recent grant of £158,490 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Ahead of the visit, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Stewart Cursley said: “We are delighted that HRH The Duke of Gloucester will be visiting the City of Wells Almshouses and to share with him our plans to restore the Bubwith Chapel and provide a new space in the centre of Wells made possible thanks to National Lottery players.”

At Heads Up, the Duchess heard about the services that the charity provides to individuals experiencing mental health issues. She was taken on a tour of the garden, and met some of the staff, tutors and clients while being shown around the building, and watching activities in progress.

Heads Up Service Director Bridget Harvey said: “What a delight and an honour it was to meet the Duchess of Gloucester, we are so appreciative to have had the opportunity to welcome Her Royal Highness and to be able share with her the important work we do within our community.

“The Duchess was very gracious and showed a real interest in our wellbeing support services. Everyone took great delight in meeting Her Royal Highness and we do hope she very much enjoyed her visit with us.”

The royal couple concluded their visit to Wells by attending a service at Wells Cathedral.