Country houses for sale

A remarkable historic Deanery in the heart of Wells has launched onto the market — and you won’t believe the price

The Old Deanery is an historically and architecturally fascinating building which has come to market for only the second time in its 800-year history.

Rather remarkably, The Old Deanery, in Wells, is so close to the iconic cathedral that the two fascinating landmarks almost touch noses.

Also rather remarkably is the asking price for this vast property, which is on the market via Savills for offers over £1.1 million. (Yes, it’s the entire building for that price).

We’ve come across The Old Deanery before, back in 2019, when it amazingly appeared on the market for the first time. ‘It is both majestic and historic,’ we wrote, ‘and has borne witness to a rich history that dates back almost 800 years.’

It was used as the primary residence for the Dean of the Cathedral (who enjoyed a short commute across the city green) between the years 1230 and 1958, after which is became office and the administrative centre for the Diocese of Bath and Wells.

The Old Deanery was used for over six decades by the Diocese up until several years ago, at which time it was launched onto the market. Although receiving much interest, it did not ‘generate a proceedable offer.’

James Millard, Head of Property and Glebe for the Diocese of Bath and Wells comments on its sale:

‘It is a complex building, having been expanded and remodelled many times over its eight-century history, for different uses. While it is being sold in its current guise as an office building, there is potential for a myriad of uses, subject to planning consent, and I am delighted to work with the diocese to identify a buyer that will honour and preserve its legacy, while providing it with a positive future.’

There’s no doubt that its sale is of huge significance. The building lies in the heart of England’s smallest city, and is a much-loved part of the architectural landscape.

This is something which James Millard, Head of Property and Glebe for the Diocese of Bath and Wells, reflects upon, stating:

‘Securing its [The Old Deanery’s] future is of great importance to us and we will be working closely with Savills to ensure that any offers we receive are considered and progressed with utmost care.’

So, what does an offer over £1.1 million get you? In this case — rather a lot.

Extending over 18,000sq ft, three floors and across four wings (known as the North, South, East and West Ranges) The Old Deanery also has ‘The Court’ (as the name suggests, this was an original court) towards the east of the main building, and another building towards the north known as ‘The Education Wing.’

There is also an original stable block which has been converted into offices.

As you would expect from a property of this historical magnitude, it is full of ‘remarkable historical features’ (we’re talking more than a few inglenook fireplaces), with parapet gargoyles, stained glass windows, Tudor fireplaces and Jacobean wall panelling.

The South and West Ranges date back to the 13th century and enjoy spectacular views over the Cathedral. They were updated by Dean Bathurst to reflect a Neo-Classical style.

Proceeding in date order, the North Range dates from the late 15th century with spectacular rooms named after bishops of Bath and Wells, and also Henry VII and Margaret (Henry’s mother), following a royal visit.

The East Range, which houses the main entrance to the building, was built it the late 16th century.

Outside the building to the north and west are magnificent Tudor style gardens, bursting with plants grown by ‘The father of English Botany’ Dean William Turner.

The final —but by no means least — impressive nod to the history enveloping The Old Deanery is a majestic 200-year-old beech tree in the garden which completes the remarkable setup.

The Old Deanery is currently on the market via Savills for offers over £1.1 million — see more pictures, or enquire with the agent for further details. 

Wells: What you need to know

Location: On the southern edge of the Mendip Hills, approximately 20 miles from Weston-Super-Mare and roughly the same distance from Bath.

Atmosphere: England’s smallest city is rich in history and culture and is well-equipped with shops and leisure facilities.

Things to do: Once you’ve explored all that the city has to offer — from the fascinating Cathedral to the moated Bishop’s Palace — head out and explore the Mendip Hills, Cheddar Gorge, Wookey Hole and Glastonbury Tor.

Schools: Wells Cathedral School, Millfield School and Storberry Park School are all well-regarded in the area.

See more property for sale in the area.