Here’s some of what the Lonely Planet – Great Britain chapter on Southwest England has to say about Salisbury:
Centered on a majestic cathedral that’s topped by the tallest spire in England, the gracious city of Salisbury makes a charming base from which to discover the rest of Wiltshire. It’s been an important provincial city for more than a thousand years, and its streets form an architectural timeline ranging from medieval walls and half-timbered Tudor town houses to Georgian mansions and Victorian villas.
England is endowed with countless stunning churches, but few can hold a candle to the grandeur and sheer spectacle of Salisbury Cathedral. Built between 1220 and 1258, the cathedral bears all the hallmarks of the early English Gothic style, with an elaborate exterior decorated with pointed arches and flying buttresses, and a somber, austere interior designed to keep its congregation suitably pious.
Salisbury’s 123m crowning glory was added in the mid-14th century, and is the tallest spire in Britain. It represented an enormous technical challenge for its medieval builders; it weighs around 6,500 tons and required an elaborate system of cross bracing, scissor arches and supporting buttresses to keep it upright.
Sir Christopher Wren surveyed the cathedral in 1668 and calculated that the spire was leaning by 75cm. A brass plate in the floor of the nave is used to measure any shift, but no further lean was recorded in 1951 or 1970. Despite this, reinforcement of the notoriously ‘wonky spire’ continues to this day.
Salisbury Cathedral is home to one of only four surviving original copies of the Magna Carta, the historic agreement made between King John and his barons in 1215 that acknowledged the fundamental principle that the monarch was not above the law. It’s an evocative document; beautifully written and remarkably well preserved.
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD