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If you are visiting London and making the trip out to Stonehenge, you should also go a few more miles and visit Salisbury. Here you will find Old Sarum, once home to a medieval castle, and Salisbury Cathedral, which has the tallest Spire in England and houses the best surviving copy of the Magna Carta.
Old Sarum is the site of the earliest settlement of Salisbury. What was once a Roman fort became a Medieval Castle in the time of William the Conqueror. All that remains today are the stone remnants.
You can also view the footprint of Salisbury’s first cathedral in Old Sarum. Just five days afters its consecration in 1092 it was destroyed in a storm. Later, it was rebuilt and extended. Just 200 years later it was demolished and a new cathedral was erected on another site using the stones of the former.
Walk over the hilly landscape, venture on what’s left of the castle walls and take in the views from atop the hill. It is easy to see why this location was chosen for a castle.
Entrance is free to those carrying an English Heritage Pass. Small fee for those who do not.
Completed in 1238, Salisbury Cathedral, formally known as the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is an example of early English architecture. The interior has beautiful gothic vaulted ceilings, scissor arches, and stained glass windows. The exterior is stone and has the highest spire (404 ft) in all of the United Kingdom.
With massive stone walls and arched columns, the sunlight peering through the windows casts a beautiful golden glow throughout the cathedral. Take time to take in all the details.
Inside the sanctuary of Salisbury Cathedral, you will also find a replica of the cathedral and one of the oldest working clocks in the world (dating back to 1386). Originally located in the cathedral’s bell tower, it is made of hand-wrought iron and has no face like traditional clocks today. This is because people would tell time by the number of times the bells would ring.
This church not only has the highest spire in England, but has the largest cloister in Britain. The two cedar trees in the center were planted in 1837. It is easy to sit back and meditate on life while viewing the well-manicured lawn and beautiful stone archways.
While here, be sure to take some time to see the Magna Carta. The chapter house displays the best-preserved of the four surviving original copies.
While Salisbury Cathedral is an artistic masterpiece by itself, the church welcomes outside artists to feature their own works on the grounds. There is even an Arts Advisory Committee that works to create a program of art exhibitions that is free to the public. While we were there, their was an event for the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta that featured modern sculptures of barons painted by local artists.
Entry to the Cathedral is FREE.
After visiting Salisbury Cathedral, head over to town for shopping. You’ll find a ton of shops at Old George Mall and along canal. And if you are hungry, you’ll find many places to eat and drink on Butcher’s Row.
We chose The Market Inn. It was the perfect spot to grab a pint along with some fish & chips! There is both indoor and outdoor seating and a good selection of drinks. You’ll find live entertainment on the weekends and nightly dinner specials. There is also free wifi.
Have you had a chance to visit Salisbury? What was your favorite part?