Iʼm sure that Salisbury must come near the top of anyoneʼs list of the most beautiful cathedrals.
This is largely due to the fact that it is architecturally all of a piece, having been built in a relatively short period between 1220 and about 1258.
The only significant additions are the glorious tower and spire which were added in 1310-30, a chantry chapel and some additional strengthening of the crossing carried out in the fifteenth century.
The Quire and the Nave
Up to the end of the twelfth century the cathedral, and indeed Salisbury itself, had been located on the summit of the chalk hill to the north of the city now known as Old Sarum.
Sandwiched between the Norman castle and the walls of the old Iron Age hill fort, the constant disputes with the military, the lack of housing for the canons, and winds so strong that "the clerks can hardly hear one another sing", the old cathedral was becoming increasingly unsatisfactory.
Then in 1197 the Dean of Old Sarum, Richard Poore (who was born in Tarrant Crawford and eventually became Bishop of Durham), decided to lay out a new town on land that he and his brother, the Bishop, owned down by the river.
When his brother died in 1217, Poore was appointed Bishop of Salisbury in his place, and was granted permission to re-site the cathedral to his new town. He laid of the foundation stone on 28th April 1220.
For opening times, admission prices, etc. please see the Cathedralʼs official site detailed below.
The cathedral contains many treasures, not least one of the best copies of Magna Carta to survive. Among the more photogenic are:
- The stunning Living Water Font by British sculptor William Pye installed in September 2008,
- The Medieval Clock which is believed to have been made around 1386 and may well be the oldest working mechanical clock in existence,
- The beautiful Prisoners of Conscience Window by Gabriel and Jacques Loire, a father and son team from Chartres, unveiled in 1980, and
- The revolving engraved glass prism made by Laurence Whistler (best know for the windows of Moreton Church), in memory of his brother Rex, who was killed in action on Normandy in 1944 not long after completing the extraordinary Whistler Room at Mottisfont Abbey.