Monday, October 10, 2011

A Fall Day in Salisbury

A great weather weekend in the fall calls for a road trip, or train trip, as it might be, since we own no cars here in London to take out on the road. We headed out early on Saturday to see the town of Salisbury with its famous medieval cathedral, known for having the tallest spire in all of Britain.

The town of Salisbury was delightful with its half timbered Tudor houses

medieval gates, Georgian mansions and Victorian villas.

Taking our guided city walk, we came across the smaller parish church of St. Thomas built for the cathedral workmen in 1219, and named for Sir Thomas Becket.

We stumbled upon a market cross built in the 15th century that sheltered the Poultry Market.

But in this century, Paddington quickly followed his keen nose to the homemade do-nut stand in the modern market where we all got a treat,

and then shopped the vendors, stopping to buy fabric from this nice man for a couple of tablecloths.

Approaching the cathedral, we passed the Matron's College which was built as a home for the widows of the clergy.

The cathedral of Salisbury was amazingly built in just 38 years, from 1220-1258. Famous for many reasons, including having the oldest mechanical clock, having the finest of only 4 surviving copies of the Magna Carta, 

and the largest, and what some consider the most beautiful, Cathedral Close in Britain that is surrounded by beautiful houses, all unique in style.

It is the seat of a bishop, who is seen here exiting the cathedral that day after an ordination of new deacons.

Once inside we marveled at the Early Gothic structure

and paused at this model long enough to wonder what it must have been like to live during those days and 

give your heart and soul to building such a magnificent edifice. Have you read Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth? It's a fictional account of the building of a cathedral in the Middle Ages very much like Salisbury, and ranks as one of his best novels. I highly recommend it. You might remember hearing about it as one of Oprah's picks a few years back.

We loved the beauty and clarity of the stained glass,

the colors and light of the ceiling and arches,

the actual seat of the bishop,

and seeing effigies like these

and this one of John, Lord Cheney, a Knight of the Bath who was a giant of a man, 7 feet tall, who died in 1499.

We admired the Audley Chapel, where prayers were offered for his soul

then strolled outside to view the cloisters, the largest of any cathedral in Britain.

I hope someday you get to see the earliest surviving complete choir stalls (circa 1236)

like we did, and gaze at the carvings of little musical angels that we found.

Speaking of musical angels, as we wrapped up our tour, the Cathedral Boys Choir began to practice. Made up of boys between the ages of 8-13, the young boys live and train at the school there at the cathedral.  I recorded a bit of it, and I think you might enjoy hearing them as much as I did. What sweet music they make.



  1. Thank you so much for this wonderful post! I will never forget the day we spent in Salisbury with some very dear friends of ours. They live there and took us to all of these wonderful places. We were actually there on December 23 so the Cathedral was all decorated for Christmas and we had a full Christmas dinner in the cathedral cafe. At about 5pm the choir started practising for an evensong service and the organist was playing the most amazingly eerie music I've ever heard. My friend is now very ill and I'm not sure if I will see her again but I will always remember the amazing day I spent with her in Salisbury.

    I am favouriting this post!

    Best wishes,

  2. Thank you for bringing back memories of my visit to Salisbury in 1996. I didn't see all that you show in your photographs so this visit has been wonderful. I wished that I could live in a house in the Close.
    Ann G.

  3. Absolutely beautiful cathedral!

  4. After reading this, I will definitely put this on the top of my "cathedrals to see while I'm here" list. Thanks!

  5. Is it bad that my first impulse was to gush over that gorgeous fabric? I'm pumped to see what you picked out for your tablecloths. Thanks for "taking" us with you!

  6. Such beautiful pictures of the cathedral, Debi. I must make Salisbury a priority for us to visit. Pillars of the Earth is one of my favorite books and I often think of it when I visit these awesome cathedrals. Also, the video of the choir was a special touch!

  7. Wow, I'd forgotten how beautiful Salisbury is (I've been there many years ago) and your pictures really capture it all beautifully.

    I've also caught up with your other posts - London looks pretty good when the sun is out ;-)

    Hope you're well, have a good weekend xo