In Wiltshire some 90 miles southwest of London and not far from Stonehenge lies the city of Salisbury with the most magnificent cathedral, and its quite remarkable 404 feet spire.
Salisbury Cathedral was begun in 1202, and completed in a record thirty eight years., and then towards the end of the century the huge spire was added. This made Salisbury Cathedral at that time the tallest structure in the known world, and still the highest in England.
Looking back through the centuries this was medieval technology at its finest. There are a number of great cathedrals, but most took centuries to build, but Salisbury was completed in under a century, with the most part taking only thirty eight years. Even without taking the spire into account, and looking at the tools that were available this is an engineering miracle in the true sense of the word.
The huge advantage that Salisbury cathedral has over its rivals is down to the speed of construction, because it is all one style. Of course this was possible as it was built within one human lifetime, which minimised differences that would have occurred in succeeding generations.
If you were to put a named style on the construction of the cathedral it would be called Early English or Pointed Gothic, and is something everyone needs to witness at least once. In addition don’t just admire Salisbury cathedral from the outside or the inside, why not climb the 700 year old spire. You’ll need to trust the builders, bearing in mind that Sir Christopher Wren discovered a 29 inch tilt in the spire in 1668!!
Climb the steps and enjoy the view across the small town of Salisbury, and the Salisbury Plain, across to Stonehenge which rivals the Cathedral as a visitor’s site, but of course is far older.
What might be of interest is the fact that the small market town of Salisbury grew up around the cathedral, and not the other way round, which was often what happened.
Salisbury is fairly easily reachable in a day from London, but why not make it a short break, stay over, and visit the other attractions in the area as well. If you choose to do that, then the ideal place to stay could well be the thirteenth century Rose and Crown Inn. It looks and feels the part with its hand hewn beams, and a lovely place to spend the night where you will be assured of a great welcome. It sits on a lawn which stretches down to the River Avon, complete with ducks and swans.
When you turn to view the cathedral it is as if you were looking at a Turner painting, both he and Constable made the world aware of Salisbury Cathedral long ago, and the scene from the banks of the River Avon is virtually unchanged. Visiting Salisbury Cathedral is free but donations are actively sought. The best times to visit could include evensong when the cathedral choir will normally sing, but best checked before, and the town market is held on Thursday and Friday.