Here’s another great photo I found on Pinterest recently of the swans at the Bishop’s Palace in Wells, who ring a bell when they want to be fed. The things one learns on Pinterest!
The Bishop’s Palace is world famous for its swans who ring a bell alongside the gatehouse when they want food. The swans are trained to pull on a rope which sounds the bell ringing and sends the Palace Caretakers, Paul and Carol Arblaster running to fetch some bread and open the window to feed them. Perhaps you will be lucky enough to see them do this when you visit!
Swans at the Palace were first taught to ring a bell for food by the daughter of Bishop Hervey in the 1870s and the tradition continues to this day. Bread is tied in clumps to the rope attracting the swans to nibble at it and pull it off, when they do this the bell rings. Gradually less and less bread is tied onto the rope as they begin to understand that by pulling the rope and hearing the bell means food will soon follow.
Rest assured, the swans and ducks all get a lot of attention from tourists and staff around The Bishop’s Palace should Paul and Carol be away from the bell so they don’t go hungry, they also feed off the moat silt bed and surrounding environment.
You can watch a YouTube video of the swans ringing the bell here.