Old Sarum, Salisbury Cathedral and good news
Feb 22, 2012
|Kevin and Linda acted as tour guides for the day taking us to the historic town of Salisbury in Wiltshire.
Although the actual city known as New Sarum was not established until 1220 there had been various settlements in the area for thousands of years.
We started our visit to Salisbury by visiting Old Sarum or Old Salisbury about two miles outside the town. The site contains evidence of human habitation as early as 3000 BC. Old Sarum was originally an Iron Age hill fort strategically placed on the junction of two trade routes and the River Avon.
The hill was later occupied by Romans, between AD 43 and AD 410 and used as a military station and called Sorviodunum. The Anglo-Saxons (around AD 500 to AD 1000) used the site as a stronghold against marauding Vikings and was one of the most major settlements of the West Kingdom. The Normans were the main builders of the ruins of buildings seen today. A motte and bailey castle protected by a deep moat was built in around 1069, three years after the Norman Conquest. The town was then called Sarisburia from which the current day names of Sarum and Salisbury are derived.
The first Salisbury Cathedral was built on the hill between 1075 and 1092 and a subsequent larger cathedral was built around 1120 when a royal palace for King Henry I was built. The ruins of this massive cathedral were not unearthed until excavations in 1912-14. The settlement was bustling but a decision was made in 1220 to relocate the town and build a new cathedral on the meadow by the Avon. Hence the location of Salisbury and the cathedral today.
After our blustery exploration of Old Sarum we headed into Salisbury. We found a lovely cafe bistro for lunch. During lunch we got an e-mail to tell us the coach had been cleared through customs and was now ready for collection. We contacted Gold RV who are going to do the electrical conversion for us and agreed with them collection the next day. We were so pleased.
With a spring in our step and a good lunch we made our way to Salisbury Cathedral after a quick look in the St Thomas Becket Church to look at the Last Judgment or "Doom" mural.The mural was painted in 1475 and had for years been hidden. It was an amazing mural.
The Cathedral was started in 1220 and took 38 years to complete the main church. The tower and spire of the cathedral were not built until the 1330s. Over the years the Cathedral has been re-organised and renovated a number of times. The Cathedral has the tallest spire in Britain at 404ft (123m) and leans 27.5 inches to the south and 17.5 inches to the west( Salisbury Cathedral Unusual Facts) The Cathedral also has the largest Cathedral close (40 hectares) and cloisters in Britain.
Our first stop was to the Chapter House to view the best preserved of four surviving original Magna Carta sealed by King John in 1215. The document is written in abbreviated Medieval Latin on vellum. The document set down for the first time the relationship between the King and his subjects and their rights. The Magna Carta has played an important role in democracy inspiring documents from the United States Constitution to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. No photography was allowed in the Charter House.
We then explored the rest of the cathedral with its many beautiful alters and stain glass windows. The Prisoners of Conscience Window was just magnificent. This window is dedicated to prisoners of conscience throughout the world and was designed by Gabriel Loire. The choir stalls were particularly beautiful and are said to be the earliest surviving complete choir stalls(c 1236). There was an interesting Memorial Glass Prism to artist Rex Whistler engraved by his brother Laurence. The prism had engravings of the Cathedral both inside and out.
A magnificent cathedral and a lovely day out. We had seen only a small part of Salisbury - think we will be back.