Thursday, 11 November 2010

Salisbury City and Cathedral

Monday 27 May 1998. Fran and I are on holiday in Wiltshire and have now left the ancient hilltop fort of Old Sarum and are in Salisbury.

As we emerge from the huge car park, our first view of Salisbury, is the river. It cuts under the shopping center in a huge black hole to emerge on the other side of the buildings, hissing and roaring over a wier. Facing the shopping centre and culvert we had to turn round to see this much more attractive view leading towards the old bridge with its arches.

There is an excellent covered market cross with some old half-timbered black and white buildings nearby.

Down one of the streets leading off this crossroads is this arched gateway. Going through it leads into the cathedral square.

Salisbury is one of England's most famous cathedrals. Building commenced in 1220 - late for an English cathedral, but we must remember that Salisbury grew only once the old hillfort city of Old Sarum was abandoned. The Norman cathedral at Old Sarum was built from 1075-1092.

The famous spire is England's tallest at 404 feet or 123 metres and leans around 27 inches from the vertical.

This is the oldest working clock in Europe. It was made in 1386 and originally installed in a bell tower that was demolished in 1798. It is still ticking away and the cathedral website informs us (and I love this!) that it has ticked more than 5 million times since it first started measuring the time! Actually it is probably two and a half million ticks and two and a half million tocks...

Despite never having been an abbey it has cloisters - not sure what it is about walking around a cloister but I always have to do it when visiting somewhere with one! And this is the largest cloister in England.

The great treasure of Salisbury is the best preserved copy of the original Magna Carta, agreed by King John at Runnymede on 15 June 1215 and which laid down the beginnings of English law, since copied around the world. Thirteen copies of the Magna Carta were made, only four of which still exist. Two are in the British Library and one lies at Lincoln within the castle. The one at Salisbury was taken originally to the cathedral at Old Sarum.

At Runnymede King John was urged to sign by his half brother, William Longspeé, a sculpture of this moment can be seen in the cathedral and William was buried there. In another wonderful bit of gossip, the cathedral website informs us that when his tomb was opened after many centuries there was a dead rat with traces of arsenic in it found lying inside his skull. A strange way to die, poisoned by a carrier rat eating its way into your head - you'd have thought someone would have noticed and shooed it away... ;-)

Large versions of the photos: all photographs from this holiday can be found in a set at Flickr

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