Travel With the UK ETA for Wells: Your Complete Guide

An ancient religious site, Wells is one of the UK’s smallest cities today. Its old, picturesque buildings have led it to become a popular filming spot for movies and TV series, and it continues to enchant and delight visitors. Learn in this guide how the new ETA system may affect your trip to Wells and discover the city’s most interesting things to do and places to see.

Early Wells

Wells takes its name from the three holy wells that are found within its limits. These were dedicated to St Andrew the Apostle. A Roman settlement grew up around them, but Wells didn’t truly thrive until the Anglo-Saxon era. In the year 704, King Ine of Wessex built a church in Wells. Two hundred years later, Wells was given its own bishop. Over the following centuries, there was a rivalry between Wells and nearby Bath, also a religious settlement. Both towns vied to become the main seat of the Bath and Wells diocese. Finally, in the 13th century, a bishop’s palace was built in Wells, and it overtook Bath to become the diocese’s principal seat.

The Growth of Wells

The nearby port at Bleadney helped Wells grow into a thriving trading destination. The city became known for its cloth-making industry and its cheesemongers. Over the following centuries, its fortunes rose and fell. In 1613, it hosted Anne of Denmark, King James I’s wife. The whole town turned out to perform a pageant for the visiting queen, celebrating local craftsmen and artisans with displays that showcased the blacksmiths, cloth makers and cattle industry. Another famous visitor stayed in 1682 — William Penn. On his way to America, he found the state of Pennsylvania. He was arrested in Wells for disturbing the peace while preaching to a large crowd. However, he was swiftly released, thanks to the personal intervention of the Bishop of Bath and Wells.

Wells Under Siege

During the English Civil War, the Siege of Wells saw the city attacked by Parliamentarians from almost all directions. The Royalists fled the city, and it fell to the invaders, who proceeded to turn the cathedral into a stable. Later, Wells was also targeted during the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685. Rebels attacked the cathedral again, rising up against the establishment and the church. They broke windows, smashed the organ and took lead materials from the roof to make bullets. The rebels were later tried in Wells. After a swift trial that lasted just one day, over 500 rebels were sentenced. Some were executed, while others were transported to work in the colonies of the West Indies.

Things To See in Wells

Wells Cathedral

An ancient pilgrimage site, Wells Cathedral is known for its stunning Gothic architecture, largely completed in the Early English style. It was consecrated in 1239. However, a church has stood here for far longer. Visitors can see the cathedral’s baptismal font from Anglo-Saxon times, estimated to have been built in 705 AD. The western front, vandalised in the Monmouth Rebellion, still shows signs of damage. In particular, some of the figures ornately carved on the wall have been decapitated. One of Wells’ three ancient holy wells is to be found within the cathedral grounds.

The Bishop’s Palace

The Bishop’s Palace dates back to the 13th century, although some buildings were added to the complex later. It has been the seat of the Bishop of Bath and Wells for some 800 years, apart from a brief period following the dissolution of the monasteries. This is when the notorious Bishop Barlow stripped the lead from the roof and sold the palace to the Duke of Somerset as a private residence. It was recovered a few years later. The palace has a defensive moat and drawbridge, built to protect the bishop from the uprisings of the townsfolk. The vast gardens include St Andrew’s Spring, one of Wells’ ancient holy wells.

Wookey Hole

Just outside the city, the Wookey Hole Caves are an intriguing natural attraction. Used by humans for 45,000 years, these ancient holes were formed by the passage of the River Axe. The caves are open to visitors. Inside, a vast system of chambers and passages can be explored. Cave diving takes place here, and some people have even chosen to get married within the cave complex.

The UK ETA for Wells

In the year 2024, the UK is introducing the new ETA system, or Electronic Travel Authorisation, which will replace the current visa waiver programme. Inspired by systems that are currently in place in countries like Canada and the United States, the ETA is designed to digitalise the border, giving the British government more control and oversight over people entering and leaving.

Under the current system, citizens of 92 countries are permitted to enter the UK without applying for a visa. When the ETA programme comes into effect, these travellers will need to apply for the new ETA before they travel. They will still not need a visa, and the ETA application process is far simpler than a visa application process.

The UK ETA for Wells allows travellers to spend up to six months in the country. It is issued to travellers visiting for a variety of purposes, including leisure and holidaymaking, business trips, short-term studying or visiting friends and family. However, travellers will not be able to spend more than six months in the country or work while in the UK. If they wish to do either of these things, they will need to apply for a separate visa.

How to Apply for the UK ETA

Visitors who wish to visit the UK should apply for their ETA in advance of their trip. It is expected that carriers will consider an approved ETA to be a condition of carriage. Passengers who come to their airport, port or station without an approved ETA may be denied boarding. The application process is completely digital and is only available online.

Before beginning their application, travellers should look at the published list of requirements for the ETA. They will need to hold a valid biometric passport. As well as this, they should be prepared to enter personal information: their date of birth, employment status, contact details and more will form part of the application.

In addition to providing personal information, applicants will need to share details of their planned trip to the UK. This may include the address at which they will be staying, as well as a short itinerary outlining their plans. They will also need to disclose information about any past transgressions. Applicants with a criminal record, past immigration offences, and past or present memberships of proscribed organisations will need to explain these.

When completing the UK ETA for Wells application, applicants will need to pay a fee. This is non-refundable and must be paid in full before the application will be processed. Processing time can take up to 72 hours, so travellers should be sure to leave enough time before they begin their journey.

Travelling With the UK ETA for Wells

A visitor with an approved UK ETA for Wells can travel freely within the United Kingdom. There is no border control between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, so travellers can cross between these four constituent nations without needing to complete any further forms.

The ETA is only valid within the United Kingdom. Visitors who want to go to the Republic of Ireland or other European countries should check the entry requirements before travelling.

A Trip to Wells With the UK ETA

From its eerie, ancient caves to its spectacular cathedral, Wells is a city that charms visitors each year. With its cobbled streets and old buildings, it’s no wonder that it’s such a popular filming destination. A visit here feels like you have been transported back in time. Use Wells as a base to discover the charms of the West Country, with its intricate cave networks, lush green fields and mysterious old standing stones. Be sure to apply for your ETA with plenty of time, so you can travel worry-free as you discover the magic of Wells and the surrounding countryside.