|Swans of Wells sculpture with the resident swans of Wells at the gatehouse bell behind|
The original bell-ringing swan can still be seen today, displayed in a glass case at the Wells Museum!
Historically, the crown of England owns all unmarked swans in open waters, however Queen Elizabeth II only exercises her right on stretches of the River Thames. In the past, swans were seen as a delicacy and would be fattened up and served at banquets and feasts. Centuries ago, an unauthorised person caught killing a swan could be sentenced to transportation for seven years and even up to 1895 people could be sentenced to seven years' hard labour.
The first Royal Swan Keeper was appointed in the 12th Century and today the swans are looked after by the Swan Marker. The birds are rounded up during Swan Upping, a five-day census of the River Thames's swan population, when the new season's cygnets are marked and counted.
|Swan Upping on the River Thames|
|The resident swans of Wells - the inspiration for the Swans of Wells 2012 public art event|