Salisbury is a historic cathedral city in Wiltshire, in the South of England, and is one of the places most asked about by visitors from abroad.
The city itself dates only from the 13th century, when it was moved from the ancient hilltop site of Old Sarum, two miles away. Water was difficult to obtain at the original site, but the new city of Salisbury was situated beside the Wiltshire Avon, where it is joined by the Nadder and the Bourne.
Salisbury Cathedral is one of England’s best loved buildings, with its graceful spire. At 404 feet, it is the highest in the country, and was added from 1334. The rest of the building was constructed between 1220 and 1260, and is the only mediaeval English cathedral to be built all in one style – Early English. The nave contains a clock, dated 1386, believed to be the oldest working clock in the world. The cathedral’s chapter house has a copy of Magna Carta.
The cathedral close is the largest in England, and probably the finest, and is separated from the rest of the city by walls and gates. The former Prime Minister Edward Heath lived within the close until his death, and there is a splendid statue, entitled “Walking Madonna”, by Elisabeth Frink. St. Ann’s Gate is where Handel gave his first public performance in England.
John Constable and William Turner both painted Salisbury Cathedral in its setting beside the water meadows. This view was voted the best in England by readers of “Country Life” in 2002.
Salisbury has many mediaeval buildings. The entrance to the Odeon Cinema is a mediaeval merchant’s house, with stained glass windows, and there is a timbered hall within Debenham’s store, where Richard III sentenced the Duke of Buckingham to death, having him executed in the Market Place.
There are several old churches, including St. Thomas, which has a superb doom painting over the chancel arch.
The Market Place is one of the largest in the country, and there is a splendid 15th century Market Cross. Markets have been held here since 1227.
Thomas Hardy called Salisbury “Melchester” in his Wessex novels.
The entertainer Michael Crawford was born in Salisbury.
The city is often used as a base by people wishing to explore the mysterious chalk downlands of Salisbury Plain and its many prehistoric monuments, including Stonehenge.
Blue Badge Guide Colin Crosby is available to lead Guided Walks around Salisbury for groups.