Wells & Mendip Museum

The lease on 8 Cathedral Green, now the museum building, was purchased in 1817 by Joseph Lovell Lovell (1780-1842), a prominent solicitor and twice City Mayor. He managed the legal affairs of the Tudways and Dickinsons, including their enslaved-labour plantations in Antigua and Jamaica respectively. J.L. Lovell’s name is carved on a pavement stone to the front of the building to mark the renovation works he undertook.

Wells & Mendip Museum was founded in 1893 by Herbert E. Balch, a renowned amateur archaeologist, naturalist and caver. The museum was intended to showcase his extensive collections of historical artefacts and natural specimens. In 1932 the collections were moved from Wells Cathedral’s cloisters to their current home in the former cathedral chancellors’ house, 8 Cathedral Green. The exhibits have since grown to encompass many artefacts of local and national interest in the fields of natural history, archaeology, geology, and social history.

The items listed below are in the museum collections and will be on display in galleries currently being developed. They help trace the connection between Wells and transatlantic slavery.

J.L. Lovell’s name is carved on a stone pavement to the front of the building to mark the renovation works he undertook.

The map shows Parham Plantation in Antigua, surveyed for the owners Rachel Tudway and her son Clement Tudway and dated 1730. Rachel Tudway was by then a widow. The plantation at that time had the ‘great house’, a mill and other buildings associated with processing the sugar cane, cart tracks, a church, and ‘negro’ (enslaved African) houses. It is drawn on parchment. It was found in 1969 above the stables at Cedars House, formerly a Wells residence of the Tudway family. The map is in the museum collections and can be studied by appointment.
Accession number 2023.14

Parham Plantation map
Parham Plantation map

Parham Plantation map detail
Parham Plantation map detail

Wrist restraints made by J. Nichols, for a small adult or a child. These were found in 1969 above the stables at Cedars House, formerly a Wells residence of the Tudway family. The shackles were made no earlier than the mid-19th century, after the abolition of slavery in 1834. Their purpose is not known. The shackles are in the museum collections and will be on display in galleries currently being developed.
Accession number 2022.16/2

Shackles

The collar for a hunting dog, made of brass in the 18th century, and inscribed ‘J.P. Tudway’. These were found in 1969 above the stables at Cedars House, formerly a Wells residence of the Tudway family. The collar is in the museum collections and will be on display in galleries currently being developed.
Accession number 2002.16/1

Dog collar
Dog collar

Dog collar detail
Dog collar detail

The building was built in 1825 by Vincent Stuckey of Langport, one of the leading bankers of his day. William Halliday was responsible for the ‘Gothic’ carving on the upper stories of the façade of the building. He was a craftsman and founder of Halliday’s antique shop at 35 High St, Wells. The façade was altered when the building became the Westminster Bank. In the image three plaques can be seen at the door: ‘Parr’s Bank’, ‘Stuckey’s Banking Company’ and lastly the opening hours. Etched on the glass front windows is ‘Stuckey’s Bank founded 1806’. The image is From a glass plate negative by Phillips City Studio which is in the museum collections.
Accession number 2002.22/0776

Stuckey’s Bank, Wells, c.1920
Stuckey’s Bank, Wells, c.1920

Stucky’s Banking Company was unusual in being a joint stock bank, the second to be formed in the country. In 1909 Stuckey’s merged with Parr’s Bank, which was acquired by the Westminster Bank in 1923. This became the National Westminster Bank in 1970 and is now NatWest. The cheque book is in the museum collections.
Accession number 2016.62/1.4.17

Stuckey’s Bank cheque book
Stuckey’s Bank cheque book

Museum website:
Museum website – including resources available in the library and Wells City Archives

Available from the museum website:
History of the Museum Building, by Gill Pettitt

Available from the museum website, an account of J.L. Lovell’s time as Wells Almshouse governor 1840-1843, in ‘Wells Old Almshouse’, by Jean Imray, 2022, pages 113-120:
Wells Old Almshouse, by Jean Imray

In the collections of the Heinz History Center at Pittsburgh, USA are three collars for enslaved people inscribed ‘J.P. Tudway’. One is on display. They were found in Wells at the same time as the shackles, dog collar, and map which are now at Wells & Mendip Museum:
Collar for enslaved person

‘The Tudways of Wells’, a paper by Dr R.D. Reid in Proc. Wells Natural History and Archaeological Society, 81-82 (1969-1970), pages 8-21

Related Talks & Resources

Talks and Resources connected to Wells & Mendip Museum

These talks reveal the findings of historical research that connects Wells & Mendip Museum to transatlantic slavery and considers the enduring legacies that exist today.

The People

People and families connected to Wells & Mendip Museum

Wells & Mendip Museum has a complex history involving individuals and families who were involved in the transatlantic slave trade. It’s important to acknowledge their role and remember the enslaved people impacted by their actions.
We're sorry, but there are no related people to this building.

Explore More Buildings

Learn about other historic buildings connected to transatlantic slavery

Contact Information

Visit Wells & Mendip Museum

Address

Wells & Mendip Museum, 8 Cathedral Green, Wells, Somerset, BA5 2UE

Opening Times

Tuesday to Saturday
10am – 4pm

Website

Contact Number

01749 673477