The Bishop's Swans

The Bishop's Palace is famous all over the world for it's 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 Arblastar 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. 

Training the new swans - June 2012

The Bishop's Palace welcomed a new rehabilitated swan couple to the waters of the moat this June. 

They've settled in very well and have been enjoying cruising the entire circumference of the moat, getting their bearings and exploring their new home. 

Training has begun with them but, as yet, they haven't pulled the rope to ring the bell, just nibbled the bread. It may have something to do with some bolder, cheekier Muscovy ducks that also live on the moat. . .

They are bustling the new swans out of the way to grab the rope and ring the bell to get fed. It's driving us quackers!

"The swans seem shy" says Paul, "they hang back and let the Muscovy ducks do the ringing as they have learned how to do it. The swans are slowly improving - hopefully they will get there in the end".

We'll keep you posted when they do ring the bell.

It seems the cheeky Muscovy ducks aren't the only ones playing imposter! Watch this little clip on our You Tube channel before our new swans arrived.