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Vicars’ Close is a cobbled medieval street adjacent to and north of Wells Cathedral. It is believed to be the only complete medieval street still surviving in England – some say in Europe. The houses were ordered to be built in the 14th century by Bishop Ralph of Shrewsbury to provide accommodation for the ‘Vicars Choral’ – cathedral priests whose duties included singing divine services. Chimneys were added later, in the 15th century and (no doubt) other improvements have been made since. Originally, there were 42 houses, one per priest, but some were combined after the Reformation when vicars were allowed to marry. Today, there are 27 residences in Vicars’ Close, as well as a chapel, library, treasury and muniment room. There is also a dining hall connected to the Cathedral by a covered walkway, the Chain Gate Bridge. All of the buildings are Grade I listed. The current occupants still include the Vicars Choral, plus the organists and virgers. Vicars’ Close has, unsurprisingly, been used as a film location.
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