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Salisbury cathedral Reviews
Simply magnificent! Aug 20, 2016
The first time I went to Salisbury I did what many people do – used it as a transport hub for the world famous Stonehenge nearby, bypassing the city entirely. Recently, I rectified this mistake and am glad I did. For Salisbury is picturesque, olde worlde England at its finest – all gracious cobble stoned streets, crystal clear river-runs-through-it prettiness and otherworldly architecture. The High Street gate is one of the finest examples of the latter, and leads on to the crowning glory of this Wiltshire settlement – its Cathedral.
Immortalised by the great artist John Constable (to my mind, his painting Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop’s Grounds is the greatest Cathedral painting ever), this magnificent building is right up there among Britain’s top grand churches – and believe me, the UK has got no shortage of visually impressive places of worship!
You can’t fail to be impressed when you first catch sight of it as you wander in to the peaceful, leafy green close that gives the Cathedral a lovely, pastoral setting. The spire is the highest of any Cathedral in the country, and crowns an awe-inspiring Gothic edifice beneath, distinguished by elaborate carvings, flying buttresses and statues of pious Saints.
The interior is equally impressive. The nave is grand in scope and breath-taking in design: the majestic sweep of the pillars that support the ceiling and the latticed symmetry of the quire are as beautiful as any you’ll see in a medieval church. Notable curiosities within the nave are the world’s oldest working mechanical clock – dating from 1386 – and the distinctly modern baptismal font, a sculpture overflowing with water, overhung by an even more incongruously modern art piece.
Another modern feature is the Prisoners of Conscience stained glass window that dominates the Trinity Chapel behind the Quire. This serves to represent those who are imprisoned, tortured or otherwise oppressed around the world for their beliefs, and an Amnesty International Candle burns as a permanent fixture, inviting you to pray and reflect for these people.
The Cathedral does much humanitarian work – as typified by its link with Sudan – which is fitting enough considering it also houses one of the four surviving Magna Cartas, one of the most important Human Rights documents of all times. Housed in the austere but tasteful Chapter House, the Magna Carta itself is hidden away in an always-crowded tent, which means looking at it is a slightly trying experience: seeing the British library copy is easier. But the explanatory exhibits around compensate for this, as do the fun, hands-on ones in the cloister outside.
For anyone interested in England’s medieval churches, its religious and secular history, or for admirers of beautiful architecture in general, Salisbury Cathedral comes highly recommended. As I’ve covered most people in that description, I can’t recommend it enough!
Part of the list Random Travels in the UK
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stunning church and beautiful grounds Dec 17, 2010
Yes, you have to pay to get into a church, but let's look past that a moment...
I grew up in Salisbury, and used to have school meetings monthly in the Cathedral. Having had that, it's easy to look past just how beautiful this place is. The atmosphere in The Close (the streets surrounding the Cathedral) is peaceful and really quite special. A former Prime Minister and several other celebrities live here, and you'll find a number of museums to explore, too. The Cathedral itself is the tallest in the UK, and if you pay a little extra you can clamber up the creeking staircases and look out over the countryside from the top (particularly beautiful in the summer).
The main building, though, is huge and has dozens of little stories behind the graves, flags and ornaments that surround it. There are a number of small side chapels. If there's a ceremony going on, try not to disturb, though you can still look around.
The mythology of the building states that it was construted where an arrow from the ancient town of Old Sarum (you can still visit the ruins out of town) landed to determine the sight of the new city. It's actually built on a foundation of only a metre, due to being only just above the water plain. That makes the building a bit unstable, and it needs regular reconstruction at substantial cost. Most of the original parts (dating back some 700 years in places) are still there, though. There's also a very old-world restaurant around the back; not the best restaurant in the world, but you can look through the roof up at the Cathedral spire.
Little tip: it might be a touch unethical given the need for income, but if you're on a real budget you can get in for free by claiming you live locally (locals get free access). You'll probably need an English accent.
Little tip number 2: the cathedral is the really big one you can see from almost anywhere. Locals have a whole lot of fun in the summer laughing at the tourists who have convinced themselves one of the many other (much smaller) churches are the cathedral. If it's not surrounded by entire football pitches of empty grass, you're in the wrong place.
Salisbury cathedral Oct 28, 2008
The building is built on faggots and bullrushes, and two feet of gravel. Legend says that an archer fired an arrow from Sarum castle, where the arrow landed the cathedral was built. The first stone was laid in 1220 and completed in 1258, in those days the scaffolding would have been made of wood tied together with only ropes. A model of this can be seen inside the cathedral, the amount of accidents which must have happend must have been awful. It is said in 1912 a man went up the spire and jumped off with an umbrella, he made it the first time but not the second. I don't think Mary Poppins was thought of then.
The spire is the tallest in England with tours up the tower. The bell goes off every hour, and is quite loud; on windy days the draft up there coming through the door can sound like an industrial air conditioner. The cathedral is built on marsh lands, so it had been known to flood.
There is a charge to go into the cathedral, but if you say your there to pray they can't charge you. There are many tombs inside including the tomb of Bishop Poole who is said to heal. Please see http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/index.php for more information.