Wells Cathedral

Wells Cathedral has extensive ties to British slavery. Numerous members of the clergy had connections to slave-ownership in the Caribbean. A close network of individuals and families linked to Caribbean slavery dominated much of Wells Cathedral’s financial and ecclesiastical life from the 1840s. The Revd. John Hothersall Pinder, who became Precentor and inaugural Principal of Wells Theological College (1840-65), had previously been a chaplain to enslaved people on the Codrington plantation in Barbados and publicly defended slavery and the interests of slave owners. One of the Cathedral’s most important benefactors was Francis H. Dickinson (1813-1890), MP for West Somerset (1841-1847) and son of William Dickinson II (1771-1847) who owned enslaved people in Jamaica. He became the Cathedral’s leading patron and sponsor of restoration works. William Thomas Parr Brymer’s family had been involved in shipping enslaved-produced commodities. He became canon of Wells and Archdeacon of Bath (1839-52). Further interpretation can be found inside Wells Cathedral and in Vicar’s Close.

Stained-glass window in South Nave Aisle dedicated to Francis Henry Dickinson and his wife Caroline

Related Talks & Resources

Talks and Resources connected to Wells Cathedral

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

Video, Talk
Anne Gell
Acting Dean of Wells Cathedral
Video, Talk
Revd. Dr Carlton Turner
Anglican Contextual Theologian, The Queens Foundation
Video, Talk
Professor James Clark
Exeter University
Video, Talk
Led by Revd. Dr Carlton Turner
Anglican Contextual Theologian, The Queens Foundation

The People

People and families connected to Wells Cathedral

Wells Cathedral 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.
'John Hothersall Pinder', National Portrait Gallery
The Revd. John H. Pinder was a slave-owner, plantation chaplain and inaugural principal of Wells Theological College.

Explore More Buildings

Learn about other historic buildings connected to transatlantic slavery

Contact Information

Visit Wells Cathedral


Wells Cathedral, Cathedral Green, Wells, Somerset BA5 2UE

Opening Times

Open daily between 7am-6pm. At certain times, some areas of the cathedral will only be accessible to those attending services, so to explore all areas of the cathedral, please visit between 10am-4pm Monday-Saturday and 12pm-2pm on Sundays.


Contact Number

01749 674483