Information for Volunteers

Archive News

Archive News

News bulletins will be archived here so you can always refer back to what has gone on:

2 May 2021

2 May 2021
The tulips are out, the sun is shining and yes, the cygnets are here!
•    The first three cygnets have hatched today! Start thinking of suitable names for the cygnet naming competition. Keep an eye on the swan cam for more new arrivals!
•    Bishop Peter will be retiring soon and everyone is welcome to join an online diocesan farewell at 3pm on 22nd May. The service will be about 45 minutes and will then be followed by a live streamed informal tea at 
4.00pm. If you would like to join in with the service and/or watch the tea, these can be accessed on the day, via the Diocese of Bath and Wells Facebook.
•    Lateral flow tests – these have now arrived on site and are optional for any volunteer who would like to use one before coming on site. Please let me know if you would like to and I can arrange this.
•    The John Cook Library – our dear friend and guide here, John Cook passed away last year. His family has kindly donated his collection of books about The Bishop’s Palace and Wells so we decided to set up a library in his name for volunteers to borrow the books. Before we can open the library we would like someone to take on librarian duties, perhaps coming in once a fortnight to check books in and out. Please let me know if you are interested.
•    Visitor Numbers – you will be pleased to hear that current visitor numbers are back to those recorded in 2019. We are expecting to have a busy and successful summer.
•    Recruitment - please see our website for details of a new post being advertised: Head of Finance and People. Please pass on the information to anyone you think may like to apply.
•    Mental Health First Aiders – Both Laura Richards and I have just completed our Mental Health First Aid training. Other staff are also doing a shorter awareness raising training. 
•    Mindful photography Course – please see our website for more info on how to join the taster sessions that are being run in June. £30 per 2 hour session.
•    Guided tours: these will be starting up again from 17 May. In the meantime the guides are practising and would like some people to join in their tours. If you would like to come along on any of the following dates please let me know as spaces are limited to ensure social distancing. The tour is 40 mins and all outdoors.
               Wed 5th May at 11am or 12 noon
               Fri 7th May at 10,11,12, 2 or 3
              Mon 10th May at 10,11,12,2,or 3
              Tues 11th May at 12;30
              Wed 12th May at 2 or 3

5 April 2021

Happy Easter time everyone. I hope you have been able to make the most of the lovely weather. Yesterday was our busiest day of the year so far, lots of people out and about. Here is a pic I took of the beautiful magnolia which made it into The Times last week (the magnolia, not my pic!) Now for the latest:

I am delighted to say that Bishop Peter and Jane are back home (oh and Juno!) Please note that Bishop Peter is still shielding.
There are now some eggs in the swans’ nest (we think about 6 or more). I am pleased to report that the nest is back in its usual place, tucked in beside the north wing near the Brewery Office. There is still one cygnet hanging around but nature will take its course and it will leave the moat under its own steam soon.
A reminder for everyone to please complete their safeguarding refresher training. This needs to be done by everyone who last did their training over 3 years ago. In case you are wondering if that is you then it may be helpful to know that unless you joined as a new volunteer within the last 3 years then yes, you need to do it. Just click on this link and follow the instructions
  Once you have completed the short quiz at the end of the module we will have a record that you have completed it.
The second training is not compulsory but is very useful. We are a Dementia Friendly site and it would be really good to have more people who have completed the short online training run by Alzheimer’s Society. Here is the link
Please email me to let me know that you have completed it. I am keeping a record of how many of our team are Dementia friends.
Outdoor theatre tickets are selling fast so please book in via our website if you are planning on attending.
Jonathan Sawyer left the team last week. He has gone to work at the cathedral as Development Director. He had worked here for over 7 years and will be missed but we hope he will be popping in as he will only be next door.
Lastly you may recall that we now have one parking space per day on site for volunteer use. This needs to be booked via me and is for those volunteers who are here at least on a weekly basis and live outside of Wells. You get the space for a three month period. Of course parking is always available for those of you with Blue Badges.
Lovely to see so many of you back here volunteering. We are doing our best to plan for when guides, storytellers, learning and office volunteers can return too. In the meantime do feel free to visit using your lanyard for entry.

5 Feb 2021

Preparations for Spring are well underway here now and it is wonderful to see some blue skies, snowdrops, and dare I say it….a bit of sunshine! Here is the latest from The Bishop’s Palace:

  • Many of you have been asking after Bishop Peter. He is still undergoing the treatment as planned. Thank you for keeping him and Jane in your thoughts and prayers.
  • We are reviewing the volunteer situation fortnightly. Please bear with us. The good news is that the infection rate locally has almost halved over the last month, and with an increasing proportion of our volunteers receiving the vaccine, we hope to be able to start re-introducing some roles towards the end of the month that were in place just prior to Christmas.
  • Visit England completed their annual visit before Christmas and gave us an outstanding 93% and a glowing report. I attach it to this email for you to read in full if you wish (please do not share the doc beyond our team).
  • We have a new brochure to go with the Palace 800 exhibition that was installed last autumn. It is for sale for £3.50 from the ticket office.
  • Senior gardener job is advertised on our website.

Twiddling your thumbs stuck at home? Why not take your pick from the following suggestions?

  • If you are new and haven’t already completed the compulsory safeguarding training please join me on a zoom session Wed 10 Feb from 10:15- approx. 11:15. Just book your place with me and I will send you the link and a couple of docs to read beforehand.
  • Let’s Do It Wells now has 100 members. Lots of free, fun things to do on there. Do take a look
  • Sew Buntiful – A Project in Kindness . A group of organisations would like to celebrate Spring in Wells with a display of home crafted bunting of all descriptions.  They hope that together we can  buntify the City Centre as well as buntify houses and streets all around Wells. We would love to decorate the outside walls of the palace so if you would like to make some bunting for us please me know and I can send you the details.
  • E-Learning: I encourage you all to a) complete your safeguarding refresher course and b) to complete the new community connector module. Here is the link to access the site. If you don’t have an account already the sign up is very easy.
  • “The Snowdrop, in purest white array, First rears her head on Candlemas day.” If you’re looking for something to enliven your daily exercise and to help you look forward to the arrival of Spring, why not walk over to The Bishop’s Palace to see the snowdrops? Candlemas Day is on 2nd February, so the Palace is beginning their snowdrop trails on January 30th and continuing each weekend until 21st February.
  • Join me for an online coffee morning on Fri 12th Feb at 11am. I would say I’d bake a cake but……
  • Don’t forget we are here to support you so please don’t hesitate if you want to get in touch, even if it is just for a chat. A team shows its true sprit when the chips are down.This lockdown is a whole different ball game to the one last summer. It is much harder to stay connected and to get out and about, plus this time of year is often a struggle. Rosey Lunn, our Palace Pastor has also asked me to remind you of her number in case you would like to speak to her 07786118762. I have been keeping my spirits up by watching all the Harry Potter films for the first time and going for walks!

14 Jan 2021

Firstly Happy New Year. I know it may not feel like it right now but things will get better.  So for the latest from The Bishop’s Palace:

  • We are open: the gardens, chapel and café (takeaway only). It has been very quiet as you might imagine but while we are able to share the wonderful grounds with visitors we will continue to do so. For some local people, especially those without gardens, this is a sanctuary. We are a charity after all and we continue to do our best for everyone’s benefit. On many levels 2020 was a successful one for The Bishop’s Palace and against all the odds we start 2021 in a strong financial position. It has been a huge team effort and everyone involved should feel very proud.
  • Future plans: I attach a summary of The Palace Trust’s plans for the next few years. As volunteers you play a crucial role in our team and the future. Please do let me know what you think.
  • Let’s Do It! Wells . I let you know about this before Christmas. It is a new way to take part in your community that is free and easy and there is something here for everyone. I have been putting a lot of work in to this along with other organisations in Wells, in particular Wells Coronavirus Network. Please do have a look and I hope you will want to sign up and spread the word. We would love to get 150 members on board this month. It is free, fun and easy and a great way to keep busy during this lockdown (you can even watch a panto on there!) There is a special section called ‘Living Well During Lockdown’ which has some great ideas to help us all through the next few weeks. If you are part of a local group that would like to join the team please let me know. If you would like to help promote the site online it would just be a few hours of your time but would make a big difference (contact me for details).
  • Do have another look at the e-learning site (user manual attached for those of you who are new to it). There are new modules up there! Later this moth there will be a community connector training module too thanks to Health Connections Mendip. We thought it would be good for lots of community organisations to use the site too. The more the merrier.
  • Annual reviews: normally all volunteers would be offered an annual review with their team leader but for obvious reasons we have had to postpone these. We aim to offer these as soon as we can safely do face to face meetings. Please do contact me or your team leader in the meantime if you would like to discuss your volunteering.
  • A new member of staff, Glenda Collier has joined the Visitor Operations Team. Glenda worked on a temporary basis during Christmas at the Palace and has now taken up a part-time permanent post.

Keep your chin up everyone. Just give me a shout if you fancy a chat anytime. Great excuse for me to get off the screen!

12 Dec 2020

Last message of 2020. What a year! Thank you for all of your support. For some of you this has been on site, and for others of you we know you are waiting in the wings to return in 2021 and that means a lot too.

  • Christmas at the Palace is going extremely well. If you are able, please do come in to see the decorations and illuminations. If you can’t make it then do have a look at the pics on the website.
  • Not surprisingly we have had to cancel the carol services. A shame but just not worth taking the risk. It will be fun though won’t it, making up for lost time in 2021? I feel a big celebration coming on….
  • Finally I wanted to let you know how our dear Bishop Peter is getting on. His treatment is going well and after a period of recuperation it is hoped he will be back in Wells by the time the snowdrops are out. He knows that many of you have asked after him, kept him in your thoughts and prayers and send your best wishes to both him and Jane.

I would like to wish you a wonderful Christmas. It may not be your usual celebrations but that doesn’t mean you won’t have some fun, just in a different way.

26 Nov 2020

I hope this finds you well and that you managed to enjoy the crisp autumn day we had today. The kingfishers were out and about on the moat.

  • I have been holding off sending this fortnightly bulletin until we received the news about which tier we are in. From Thurs 3rd Dec we will be in tier 2 which means we can open the palace buildings again and have seating back both inside and outside the café. As you know the gardens and  chapel are currently open anyway.
  • This means visitor services volunteers can resume duties as they were before this lockdown ie do the usual 9:45-1 or 12:45-4 stint and travel in from outside Wells. I do not want to assume that everyone will necessarily want to do this, as after all the virus is still very much in evidence across our area. Please let me know if you would like to resume duties. Line managers will be in touch with any other volunteers eg maintenance volunteers,  to agree a plan of action.
  • It is all systems go with Christmas at the Palace. The interior will be beautifully decorated and this year the gardens will be illuminated on Thurs/Fri & Sat until 6:30pm from 5-22 Dec.  Something to bring a little joy to our hearts. Please could you help by displaying a poster to promote Christmas at the Palace in your window or on a local notice board? You can either collect them from the ticket office (aka the horsebox!) or I can post one out to you, just ask. Volunteers and members are welcome to come in on Fri 4th Dec from 4pm-6pm for a preview.
  • I attach the latest health and safety info. Please take a few moments to read it through. I will print off a copy to go in the stableyard room and it will go on the volunteer website shortly.
  • Good news. We now have one parking space on site for volunteers. If you would like to be considered for this please let me know. In order to maximise the use of the space and minimise the admin involved I have decided that priority will be given to those who volunteer weekly and live outside of Wells. The space will be allocated to you for a 3 month period. Of course blue badge holders can automatically request a space so you do not need to apply for this.
  • I will be in touch on Monday with some exciting information about a new online way of taking part in all the amazing things going on in our little city called: Let’s Do It Wells!

20 Oct 2020

I know I only sent out an email last week but there is a lot of news to share and I don’t want to send out another huge email again! I will keep it brief:

  • Clocks go back this Sunday so we will be closing at 4pm for the winter season. For the VSV team this will mean sessions will run 9:45-1 and 12:45-4.
  • The number for the ticket office (formerly known as the shop, now in the horsebox) is 677698. Please leave a message on here if you can’t come in for whatever reason.
  • You may have spotted that we have two new ‘Happy to Chat’ benches in the free area. If you see someone sitting there and you have some time to spare please do go over for a chat. We have two benches so people can still social distance.
  • Somerset Poppies – when last year’s display came down the organiser agreed for us to retain 2000 poppies so we could put on another display this year in the Quiet Garden. If you would like to help to plant them this Sun 25th Oct please let me know. We will start at 9am and the forecast is rain! We can only have two people to help and you will need to wear rough clothes and bring your own gardening gloves.
  • Please see the attached information about a service taking place in the chapel on 1st Nov.
  • Good news! We are now allowed to use the microwave again! It is in the stableyard room. We still can’t do any washing up though so please take any dirty cutlery / containers home with you.
  • Community connector training – this is a free 1hr online session. Anyone from our team is welcome to do the training. It may be very useful when talking to visitors, just to let them know what help and support is available locally. Please let me know if you complete the training. Open sessions planned for 5 November and 3 December. Please click on the link below for more info and to book your place. I did it last month and found it very useful.

Lastly to say a big thank you to all of the volunteers on site who are bearing with us as necessary changes are being made. Everyone is doing their best and we appreciate your support. To those volunteers who cannot come in to help at the moment, we haven’t forgotten you. I know the national news is bleak at the moment but there will be an end to it all, and rest assured you will be back here one day! Thanks to all of the extra funding we have received lately we can be confident that we will be able to be an oasis of calm for everyone in the coming months and years.

15 Oct 2020

  • Please sign in and out at the horsebox. Please only wear your volunteer lanyard if you are on duty, not if you are just visiting. Please collect / return radios to the horsebox. Now we have to do the track and trace we need to know who is volunteering on site at all times.

  • The evensong service last Sunday was one of the few events that we could actually do as part of the 800 year celebrations. The Dean of Wells preached about the beauty and joy of the Palace site and signed a deed of collaboration with Rear Admiral David Wood, Chair of The Palace Trust, to signal a new era of working together for Wells Cathedral and The Bishop’s Palace.

  • We received £364,000 from the Cultural Recovery Fund, which will be used to ensure that the site can remain open throughout the winter months for the public to visit and enjoy. The funds will cover staff costs, covid-safe alterations to the working and visiting environment and digital updates including a new website to enable potential visitors to research and understand the site, and purchase their tickets online prior to visiting.

  • We have two talks planned for up to 10 volunteers. Take your pick and let me know if you would like to attend. We will be well spaced out in the conference room / undercroft. Please wear a mask.  1. Gervase Donohoe is a guide at the cathedral and has offered to run a talk on Bishop Ken 10-11am on Tues 3rd Nov   2. Mark Hutchinson at 10am on Mon 9th Nov: For hundreds of years, there was considerable rivalry between the Bishop of Bath and Wells and the mitred Abbot (Bishop) of Glastonbury. This talk explores the rivalry and its often violent consequences from 1100 to 1500.

  • The new exhibition will be installed on Sunday so do come in for a look anytime from 19th October. Palace 800 – The Story of a Palace and a Home will take you on a journey through The Bishop’s Palace past and introduce you to people and events that have shaped this special place. Discover how the Palace’s residents have connected the building to major events through history, from Magna Carta to the Second World War and see how the site has evolved over its 800 year history. The exhibition will be spread throughout the rooms of the main Palace building with each display exploring a different century from the 1200s through to current day.

  • The horsebox is in situ and will be used for ticket sales and plant sales for the foreseeable future. The café has extended into the space formerly occupied by the shop.

  • The Spanish Princess Season 2 - TX Sunday 11th October 2020 on STARZ and STARZPLAYSpanish princess trailer on our you tube channel that you can subscribe to  You can spot the well pool/wells border, the chapel looking brilliant, and the terrace by the Romeo and Juliet steps. It was filmed here in early 2020.

  • All of the electrical equipment on site is PAT tested annually but just a reminder that you are responsible for reporting any faults / damage to electrical items.

  • We are making plans for Christmas. The theme is winter woodland and we plan to have more to see in the grounds this year as well as the usual decorations inside. A press release is up on the volunteer website. Please do have a look as there is all kinds of up to date info for your delight!  and the password is Volunteer2018 .We are planning to have two small services in the chapel for the volunteer team and I will be in touch towards the end of November to ask you to sign up if you would like to attend. I am leaving it until then, as let’s face it, a lot could change between then and now. We are trying to do what we can. The dates will be 2pm on 15th and 6pm on 17th Dec.

Lastly to say a big thank you to all of the volunteers on site who are bearing with us as necessary changes are being made. Everyone is doing their best and we appreciate your support. To those volunteers who cannot come in to help at the moment, we haven’t forgotten you. I know the national news is bleak at the moment but there will be an end to it all, and rest assured you will be back here one day! Thanks to all of the extra funding we have received lately we can be confident that we will be able to be an oasis of calm for everyone in the coming months and years.

24 Sept 2020

Hope this finds you all well. I don’t know about you but I am really enjoying this fantastic autumnal weather. My kids are already asking for the central heating to be turned on but I never do that before Oct half term holidays! Here is the latest from The Palace:

  • Track and Trace. Please see attached documents, especially VSVs, regarding our new obligations for track and trace. Please ask the person at the ticket gate to sign you in and out when you are volunteering. This is vital for us to be able to track and trace all volunteers on site. No need to wear your lanyard when only visiting, just show it at the gate and then pop it back in your pocket please. At risk of stating the obvious please do not come on site if you, any of your household, or anyone you have come into contact with recently have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • This half term the family trail theme is ‘Squirrels and Leaves’. There will not be any crafty cats or nature ninjas due to limitations because of the virus eg sharing equipment.
  • The Mills of Wells Exhibition is up in conference room. Some of us went over to the museum last year to view this and I can thoroughly recommend it.
  • If you would like to attend any of the training below, which I think you may find useful when meeting our visitors, please follow the links to sign up. I would appreciate it if you could let me know if you complete the online session. I shall be doing the community connectors one.

New ‘Let’s Connect’ community trainings from Health Connections Mendip  


Health Connections Mendip is launching a range of Let’s Connect training sessions to**empower local people to share information and ideas with friends, family, colleagues and neighbours.

The sessions are short and simple. You can do a single Let’s Connect training session or all of them.

Let’s Connect training is not about volunteering.  It’s about being an active citizen. The sessions are open to anyone and everyone living in Mendip. 

The more knowledge and skills we all have - and opportunities to share our ideas - the more we can all help each other as a community.

Take part in a Let’s Connect session and you’ll join the network of Connectors across Mendip. You’ll also help to spread the word about the power of communities to support each other and share helpful information.​

*By getting involved you’ll learn how to signpost people in your community to services and support, promote health and wellbeing messages, and help to tackle issues such as digital exclusion and fuel poverty. *

You can sign up for one - or all - of these short online Let’s Connect sessions via the links below:

You will be pleased to hear that we are currently planning Christmas. There will be opportunities for the volunteer team to get involved so watch this space!

3 Sept

  • I am delighted to report that we have had a fantastic summer, lots of happy visitors and lots of volunteers back again. Our financial situation is looking very healthy and we are able to start planning for the future with confidence.  It has been a huge team effort against all the odds. Thank you.
  • Please see the attached document about the new temporary ticket office. In short, in order to extend the café space for the coming winter months, the shop will move out and sales of tickets and small items will be from a converted horsebox (I am not kidding - it will look great!) which will replace The Lodge. This will mean no more huddling in The Lodge in foul weather for VSVs! If everything goes to plan this should be all done and dusted by early October. There will be a 20% off sale in the shop from this coming Monday. A prize will go to the person who comes up with the most amusing way that we could re-purpose The Lodge!
  • There are a few VSV slots (welcoming visitors and wandering the grounds keeping an eye that all is well and visitors are happy and well informed) if any of you would like to get back to volunteering again. If you haven’t done the VSV role before but can’t return to your usual volunteer role yet eg guides / storytellers / office volunteers because of social distancing, then you are welcome to swap teams. I know it has been a long wait for some of you. Even if you are not volunteering for whatever reason at the moment, please remember that you are still part of the team and can use your volunteer ID badge / lanyard to come in and enjoy the gardens etc. It would be great to see you.
  • If you are at home looking for something useful to do, what better way to while away a few hours than visit our very own volunteer website. You’ll be surprised just how much info there is on there password Volunteer2018
  • Would you like me to arrange another quiet evening for those of you who are still shielding? I said I would do another in Sept but I am also aware that lots of you are out and about now. It is no trouble at all so just say the word.
  • Rare Plant Fair – you need to pre-book a ticket online to attend but you will be able to get in for free with your volunteer pass (unlike some of the other ticketed events eg Bowlore, outdoor theatre)
  • Last but not least here is a youtube link to a talk that was recorded for guides at the cathedral but they are happy to share it with us. Thanks to Maureen for sharing it with us





The latest updatess sent straight to your inbox.