Historic Grade 1 listed building overlooking the Cathedral Green | Lodestone Property

Historic Grade 1 listed building overlooking the Cathedral Green

Guide Price £1,600,000 For Sale
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This property is not currently available. It may be sold or temporarily removed from the market.
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Address: The Old Deanery -
Town/City: Wells
Postcode: BA5 2UG

County: Somerset
Sale Type: For Sale
Ref: #9272435

Property Summary

The Old Deanery is both majestic and historic and has borne witness to a rich history that dates back almost 800 years. It is magnificently positioned in the centre of Wells overlooking “the Green” with un-rivalled views of the Cathedral itself. From 1230 until 1958, this unique, Grade 1 listed building functioned as the primary residence of 62 Deans.

Since the late 1940s The Old Deanery has also been the home of the Diocesan Offices when a lease was originally granted to the Board of Finance for a number of rooms. In 1962 The Dean and Chapter of Wells Cathedral conveyed the freehold of the building and part of the grounds to the Board.

Extensive restoration work was carried out between 1987 and 1990 and the current layout of the building reflects its current use as offices and an administration centre. This is the first time that this extraordinary building has been offered for sale and represents a unique opportunity to acquire not only one of the most historic and beautiful buildings in Wells, but also one of national significance.

Composition and structure

The main building of The Old Deanery is laid out over three floors and over four wings that essentially form a square structure (The Ranges). The extensive third floor in the attics of the house feature original Elm floorboards and are primarily used to store old records and files. To the east is ‘The Court’ dating back to the 14th century and is currently home to a variety of offices. There is also the original stable block that has recently been converted to offices.

The South/West Ranges

The South Range overlooking the Cathedral and the West Range with beautiful views to the gardens both date from the 13th century. Dean Bathurst (1670 -1704) was responsible for renovating this part of the house in a Neo-Classical style evident in its glorious windows, its fluted Ionic pilaster work and dart mouldings, and a magnificent fireplace with an acanthus frieze. The “drawing room” (the old library) on the first floor is lavish and opulent.

The North Range

Dating from the late 15th century, this part of the house comprises several superb rooms named after the bishops of Bath and Wells – the Thompson Room and the Bickersteth Room on the second floor were formerly known as Henry VII and Margaret (after Henry’s mother) reflecting Dean Gunthorpe’s influential connections and a royal visit in 1497. These rooms are embellished with exquisite historical detail; a dividing plank and muntin screen dating from the 16th century, Gunthorpe’s “rebus of a gun”, Edward IV’s “rose-en-soleil”, and stained glass fragments in the windows incorporating “daises in the turf”, Margaret Beaufort’s personal motive. A discreet door from the Thompson room leads to a spiral stone staircase that rises up a tower to the ramparts above.

The Bradfield room on the first floor is no less impressive. A great fireplace dominates this extraordinary mediaeval room and the Oriel windows on the North and South walls are enchanting. Three small internal windows suggest a minstrel’s gallery, a lavatorium confirms its ecclesiastical heritage whilst a beautiful stone staircase (probably once used by servants) runs to the ground floor.

The East Range

Built in the late 16th century, the East Range houses the main entrance to the building and boasts a grand, ground floor room, currently used as the main meeting room. The room features mid 17th century panelling, naïve ionic pilasters around the doors and a stone chimneypiece dating to the 15th century. The first floor is currently used as offices.

The Court

Originally a separate building from the primary house, the court has been connected to the main building and is currently used as offices. High wooden ceilings and stone surrounding doorways hint at a rich history still evident today. The court is positioned along the north side of the courtyard that allows more than ample parking within the confines of the building. Further to the east is the original stable block that has been converted into comfortable modern and spacious offices whilst retaining many of its original features. 

Along the south wall and also connected to the main building via an external walkway is the gatehouse flat that is positioned above the main entrance to the courtyard. 

The Education Wing

To the north of the house and attached to the Gunthorpe Wing is a relatively recent and extensive building, probably dating back to Victorian times. It is currently used as offices but would suit a variety of alternative uses given the appropriate planning consents. 


The Old Deanery occupies perhaps the most enviable position in Wells with its breath-taking views of the Green and the Cathedral. To the west and the North of the building are magnificent Tudor style gardens replete with 16th-century plants as grown by Dean William Turner, the father of English Botany. A magnificent 200-year-old Beech tree provides shade over formal, attractive walkways below. The garden offers an extraordinary haven of peace and tranquillity in the very heart of the city. 


The Old Deanery is simply magnificent. Occupying over 18,000 sq. feet, the architecture is as varied as it is stunning. The house is a treasure trove of rare and remarkable features; gargoyles on the parapets, imposing and original flagstones under foot, glittering stained glass in the windows, Jacobean panelling on the walls, and recessed window seats that sit beneath grandiose architectural styling. There is a palpable sense of history and tradition in a house where Tudor fireplaces mingle with Georgian shuttered windows and old stone secret staircases. 

Whilst always essentially a private house, The Old Deanery is very much in the public consciousness and at the heart of the fabric of Wells. It offers a multitude of opportunities (both residential and commercial) to its new owners who will no doubt continue to respect the unique affection that this extraordinary building is held.  

Legal Pack

Legal packs may be obtained on application to Philip Marshall at Carter Jonas: Philip.marshall@carterjonas.co.uk



Viewing by appointment only

Every care has been taken with the preparation of these particulars, but complete accuracy cannot be guaranteed.  If there is any point, which is of particular importance to you, please obtain professional confirmation. Alternatively, we will be pleased to check the information for you.  These Particulars do not constitute a contract or part of a contract.


Lodestone Property | Estate Agents | Sales & Lettings

Wells |Bruton |Shaftesbury


  • Ref: 9272435
  • Type: Detached House
  • Availability: For Sale
  • Tenure: Freehold

Property Features

  • Majestic and historic Grade 1 building
  • Located overlooking Wells Cathedral and the green
  • A treasure trove of rare and remarkable features
  • 800 years of history and never been sold before
  • Magnificent Tudor style garden
  • Parking for approximately 25 cars
  • Over 18,000 sq.ft.
Guide Price £1,600,000
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