A visit to Salisbury would not be complete without a peek inside the cathedral. You can’t exactly miss it: it’s spire is the first thing you see on the way into the city from all directions. It’s one of my favourite places to go and I often spend sunny days sitting in the grounds reading or with family. The café inside is my closest take-away coffee shop which is perfect. Despite it being a working church, it is definitely the heart of the city of Salisbury.
The foundation stones of the cathedral at New Sarum were laid on 28th April 1220 with the main body of the building completed by the consecration on 29th September 1258. It is believed that all buildings to include the cloisters and Chapter House were finished by 1266. The iconic spire was added at some point between 1300 and 1320 and has been the tallest in England since the 16th Century at 123 metres (404 feet).
Salisbury Cathedral is home to one of only four remaining, and best preserved, copies of the Magna Carta, from 1215. The “Great Charter” is on display in the Chapter House and was written down in 1215. At the time, King John was facing potential civil war as his Barons were unhappy with how the country was being run. Although the King would amend the charter to suit himself over the years, the Magna Carta has been the source of inspiration for freedoms and civil rights around the world. Of the 60 clauses set out, four remain in law still today. These include the right to a fair trial, freedom of the church and the freedom of towns and cities. One of the most significant is that rights and freedoms cannot be sold, denied or delayed. This makes the Magna Carta a significant document in history.
Art installations, concerts and other events take place in the cathedral and the surrounding close. At the time of writing, Michael Pendry’s Los Colombes is in residence. This installation was originally part of the New Dawn themed events commemorating the centenary of the end of World War I. It has since inspired the #SalisburyCityofDoves community project. Businesses, schools and the general public are displaying paper doves to promote peace and unity in the wake of the Scripal poisonings back in March this year.
You can visit the cathedral from 9.00am until 5:00pm, Monday to Saturday and 12:00 until 16:00 on Sundays. The gift shop and refectory are open from 9:30 and the Chapter House has varying opening times. You are welcome to join in services and evensong when they are scheduled. At times, there may be restricted access due to weddings, funerals or for maintenance works. There is no entrance fee although you can make a donation. Suggested amounts are £7.50 for adults, £3.00 for children over 5 and £6.50 for seniors. Free tours of the cathedral floor are available and for a fee you can book a tour of the tower, climbing the 332 steps to the base of the spire. The views from there are amazing and worth the money, in my opinion.
Other places to go
The cathedral close is also home to other local tourist spots. The Salisbury Museum, Mompesson House and Arundells (home of former ritish Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath) are among the places worth visiting. For lunch or refreshment there is always the Refectory inside the cathedral. There’s is also a café in the Museum and the Bell Tower tea rooms overlooking the cathedral is open in summertime. My personal recommendation would be the tea in the Refectory…it’s lovely.
For more information on the cathedral, it’s history or to book a tour, go to the website: https://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/