Opening Doors – The first INTO the BARN Event!

Saturday 24th March 2018, 7.30 pm, Doors open 7.15 pm. Tickets £5 on the door

This Spring we are opening the doors of the 15th century Bishop’s Barn in Wells, Somerset, to an intimate evening with two very special women.

Helen Ottaway and Melanie Thompson have been working across multiple arts disciplines all their professional lives.  They would like to share an evening with you where you will find yourself immersed in their stories from two residencies located in two very different parts of the world.

Through film, sound installation, demonstration and specially prepared talks, Melanie and Helen will take you through the fascinating process of creating original site-specific work in response to Sri Lanka and Denmark.

Helen Ottaway – Six weeks, Hikkaduwa, sea sounds, drawing music on the beach and a magical musical box.  Helen was sponsored by Inside Out Dorset to take part in the Sura Medura  International Artists Residency in Sri Lanka.


Melanie Thompson – Two years, Aarhus, two solo performances in one night and a film about drowning. Melanie was invited to collaborate with Reflektion Teatre, Denmark and its director, Bjarne Sandborg.

melanie solo 2

Ten years ago Melanie and Helen created Palace Intrusions, a two year public art project, for Wells. They are now returning with the intention of creating a new work for the city and its community.

This event is part of the Into the BARN project 2018.

Bishop’s Barn, Silver Street, Wells, Somerset, BA5 1US 

Into the BARN: New ventures, festivals and events set for Wells Bishop’s Barn and Grounds in 2018

Wells Recreation Ground Trust announce a range of new festivals, community events and performances to take place at The Bishop’s Barn and Recreation Grounds throughout 2018

Photo Credit: Mark Alder

The trustees of Wells Recreation Ground Trust have just announced the winners of the Into the BARN scheme for 2018.

It is hoped that this new dynamic new scheme in Wells, Somerset will encourage and support lots of new community activity in the heart of the city. The scheme called Into the BARN offered 10 FREE opportunities for organisations, groups and individuals to use The Bishop’s Barn and also the Recreation Ground and Bandstand.

Winners have just been announced and subject to necessary TENS licences, successful upcoming events include:

  • A week-long professional theatre production of Macbeth by SouthBay Productions in October
  • A free family Mayday and Peace celebration featuring speeches and discussions, a peace exhibition, free children’s entertainment, stalls, live acoustic music, art displays and traditional skill demonstrations organised by the Wells Labour Party
  • A Party in the Park style event by Bekabar who have worked at Hauser and Wirth including live music and possible a ceilidh in August
  • The Craft Unit will transform the barn into a craft space for a week with work produced by artists with learning disabilities or who experience marginalisation showcasing work by groups such as Open Storytellers
  • Wells Theatre Festival launches in 2018 and will use The Bishop’s Barn as one of the core venues for this new festival in Wells.
  • Wells City Lions will host a three-day beer and cider festival featuring the very best regional produce with local music.
  • StoneArt 2018 will present a stone carving festival in the barn and grounds that aims to showcase this traditional craft. A small group of talented stone carvers across the UK will be invited to spend just three days turning a block of stone into a piece of sculptural artwork. The carvers will be given the same size and type of stone and a ‘theme’ that links to the local area and the history of Wells.
  • The Jones Collective will host a research and development period on a new theatre production Frank in the barn. This will consist of a group of 8 devising theatre-makers, actors, musicians and designers working together to complete development on the show ready for its world premiere and tour in 2019.
  • International artists Melanie Thompson and Helen Ottaway will host a week-long artists residency in the barn exploring the possibilities of a new site-specific community musical performance. The event will also include two short solo presentations of work, supported by film and music, that they have recently developed.

Into the BARN winners

As well as raising up to £2,600 for The Bishop’s Barn development fund the scheme will hopefully provide some important cultural and community opportunities in Wells and bring together local community makers.

Councillor John Parham, Chair of the Wells Recreation Ground Trust commented: “This is a great opportunity for Wells and one we hope will be embraced by the community and bring new life, ideas and events to rejuvenate a building already rich with a great history”.

The barn and grounds have a rich history of community endeavour and enterprising activity – in the 70s Blue School Student Gordon Poole began his international programming career in the barn brining SLADE, Status Quo, Supertramp and many other groups to the barn.

This programme of events also serves to raise awareness of the Barn and facilities and test out future events. Wells Recreation Ground Trust are currently in the process of applying to Heritage Lottery Fund for re-development and renovation of the barn and grounds and putting forward a business and funding plan demonstrating local partnerships and community commitment to the barn.

Wells Recreation Ground Trust would also welcome applications from community groups interested in running event as part of Wells Bandstand Festival in 2018. The charity who convened this programme, Superact, sadly went into liquidation last year so trustees are keen to hear of any music or community groups interested in continuing this venture.

August 2018 also marks the 130th anniversary of the celebration event thanking Bishop Lord Arthur Hervey for his gift – giving the Recreation Grounds and Bishop’s Barn to the people of Wells as a space for recreation and amusement. His intention was particularly to provide a community space for those families without access to gardens – trustees would be keen to hear from any groups interested in running an event to mark this anniversary and perhaps re-create some of the original event which included a giant tug of war, stalls and games.

Louise Lappin-Cook Project Development Manager for The Bishop’s Barn commented: “We have been thrilled with the range of proposals the community has put forward for the Barn and Grounds in 2018 which highlight just what an important space it is for people to come together”

Further information can be found by visiting by visiting the Facebook Page @thebishopsbarn or emailing

For future proposals or to contact Trustees regarding events please email

Two vacancies to work with Wells Recreation Ground Trust as part of a new HLF funded project

Thanks to our recent successful funding bid to Heritage Lottery Fund we have two freelance vacancies available to support the next phase of work on The Bishop’s Barn in Wells. Further information and Work Briefs are below.

The deadline for both opportunities is 9am Monday 11th December 2017.

We look forward to hearing from you!

WRGT Consultation Ad 11th Final.png

Click here to view the full Work Brief for this role

WRGT Gov Ad Mon 11 Final

Click here to view the full Work Brief for this role