Salisbury, Wiltshire. The city of the oldest clock in the world and neighbour of the most famous megaliths in the world.

salisbury cathedral wiltshire

Salisbury and Stonehenge are separated by some 20 minutes drive, so after having had visited the prehistoric megaliths, it would be simply unforgivable to not pop in on this medieval town (though it has the status of city), which is first of all famed by its 13th century gothic cathedral.

The construction of Salisbury cathedral became one of those rare examples where only one generation of people was involved. That’s why, having had been erected during less than 40 years, this attired in stone lace structure represents a purest specimen of early English Gothic. The gracefully soared 123 metres spire is deceptively light. Actually its weight (with the weight of the tower) amounts to 6500 tonnes!
salisbury cathedral
Considering the fact that the foundation of Salisbury cathedral extends deep down the soggy ground only for 5 metres, it only remains to wonder how it has been still withstanding such load yet to admire the craftsmanship of medieval builders.

Inside of Salisbury cathedral it is as much mesmerizingly beautiful as outside. The sunlight, flowing through the vibrant stained glass windows, softens that characteristic gothic solemnity and makes it more warm and friendly. Apart from good looks the cathedral prides itself on keeping one of the 4 copies of Magna Carta, having been remained from the time of John Lackland, as well as the oldest working clock in the world dated by 14th century.

salisbury cathedral
In the confines of the spacious Cathedral Close nestle picturesque buildings of different époques and styles. Mompesson House (on the left from the High Street Gate) is a typical sample of English Baroque with gorgeous plasterwork and elegant interior that became the set for “Sense and Sensibility”, starring Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant. Malmesbury House (just by Sarum College) is quite often associated with the name of distinguished composer of the 18th century George Frideric Handel. It is believed that this is where he gave his first concert in Britain, to be exact in the room above the Saint Ann’s Gate. Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, situated in an ancient building of the 13th century opposite Salisbury cathedral, houses not only the curious artefacts having been found in the process of excavations near Stonehenge but also possesses the exhibits of the time of Romans and Saxons, the pieces telling about Salisbury’s social life in the Middle Ages, great collections of costumes and paintings.

sarum collegeSarum College in the Salisbury Cathedral Close
Salisbury is one of those provincial towns where no one can help oneself but meander around the narrow little streets enjoying the tranquillity far from boisterous metropolises. Everything is so snugly compact in comparison with the cities with high population. So there is even its own “Little Ben”, though probably “Little Tower” would suited this clock tower better, because it was built on the site of the former prison.

While walking along Salisbury, scrutinizing the old houses, amidst which there is a good deal of colourful timber-framed ones, and dropping in on little souvenir shops, the time unnoticeably flies by. And getting hungry organism suddenly begins to focus attention not on “that lovely little house” but on those with the signboards “pub”, “restaurant” or “café” on them. Though it doesn’t take too long to find a place for having a meal, because there are plenty of pubs and restaurants for every taste.
salisbury wiltshireLittle Ben in Salisbury
Some of them can be interesting not only from gastronomic point of view, but also from historic. In this list for instance are: the restaurant at “The Old Mill” placed in the building of an old paper mill of the 12th century, “The coach and horses” built in 13th century, “The haunch of venison” on the Market Place. That last one exists at least from the 14th century and it doesn’t only keep a vivid atmosphere of the past. Between the ground and first floors is yet another one small area for visitors, pretentiously called “The house of Lords”. There, in the tiny baking oven, a cut mummified hand clenching the playing cards has been put on display. It was found during the refurbishment of the restaurant and alleged to be of an unlucky gambler, having had been punished for his cheating. That part of dead body doubtfully raises someone’s appetite but definitely increases the popularity of the place.

salisbury wiltshirePoultry Cross in Salisbury
Across from “The haunch of venison” is an unusual stone construction. It’s called Poultry Cross, though visually it looks more like a stone marquee. In the 15th century, when Market Place was wider, there were four Crosses. In those days they functioned as departments in the modern supermarkets. So in the Middle Age there were: Cheese/ Milk Cross, Poultry Cross, Wool/Yard Cross and Barnwell Cross where the livestock was being sold. Nowadays this only remained Poultry Cross is the sort of a town summerhouse, a perfect spot for making a date or take shelter from a heavy shower.

In spite of such worldwide neighbour like Stonehenge, Salisbury, having its own charisma, doesn’t fade in the rays of the megaliths fame at all. Salisbury is like a main spice in the dish, it makes the trip to Stonehenge more complete. Without it that “megalithic delicacy” might be a little bit mild.

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