Salisbury Cathedral

The magnificent Salisbury Cathedral has been a place of worship and pilgrimage for over 750 years and is synonymous with the city. In comparison to most cathedrals, it was constructed over a short period of time, from 1220 to 1258, and is unique in being built almost entirely in one architectural style – Early English Gothic.

Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral

Visitors to the cathedral today will find a wealth of history to uncover and with so much to see, and indeed miss, a tour with one of the extremely helpful volunteer guides is recommended. Some highlights are noted here and further details on guided tours can be found in the box below.
The original 13th century doors are located at the West End, from where groups will have an uninterrupted view of the full length of the cathedral. The striking nave is notable for its height and the vaulted pale ceilings, which would have originally been lavishly painted, are held aloft by a string of polished Purbeck marble columns. An eloquent baptism font, designed by William Pye and installed in 2008, is located at the centre of the nave and its surface provides some wonderful reflections of the cathedral.

Inside Salisbury Cathedral

Inside Salisbury Cathedral

In the North Aisle stands Europe’s oldest working clock, dating from 1386. Made of hand-wrought iron, it would have originally been located in the cathedral’s bell tower, which was sadly demolished in 1792. Close by is an interesting model showing how the cathedral was built and the old colours of the former Wiltshire Regiment.

The Morning Chapel, further along the North Aisle, houses part of the original 13th century pulpitum, a screen which used to divide the Quire from the Nave, and a wonderful glass prism created by Laurence Whistler as a memorial to his brother, who was killed in Normandy during the Second World War.
On the eastern end of the nave, is the Trinity Chapel. It was the first chapel to be completed in the cathedral and houses the tomb of St. Osmund, the Bishop of Old Sarum between 1078 and 1099. Visitors won’t fail to miss the stunning Prisoners of Conscience Window, designed by Gabrielle Loire in 1980, with its many inset faces representing people from different faiths and races from around the world.
From the far eastern end of the cathedral, groups can walk along the south aisle, passing the colourful Mompesson Tomb and the resting place of Sir Edward Heath, to a set of doors that lead to the Cloisters and Chapter House.

The Refectory

The Refectory

The Chapter House was a historic meeting place for the cathedral’s governing body – the Chapter. Completed in around 1266 and built in Geometrical Decorated style, it has a slender central column and wonderful vaulted ceiling. Around the walls runs a 13th century frieze carved of stone that illustrates scenes from the Bible, Genesis and Exodus. Also on display here is the city’s finest treasure, the Magna Carta. Sealed by King John in 1215 and written in abbreviated Latin, it is the best preserved of only four surviving original copies. The 800th anniversary of its signing is in 2015 and a new display for the document, as well as numerous events, are planned to mark the occasion.
On leaving the Chapter House, groups may wish to enter the central Cloister Garth, which is surrounded by the largest cathedral cloisters in England. Looking up you will see the cathedral spire; built between 1310 and 1330, it is now the tallest in Britain.

The cathedral’s glass-roofed Refectory, located close to the Cloisters, is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy views of the soaring spire. It serves freshly made food and there are special packages available to groups if booked in advance.
The cathedral provides a dedicated group booking line and recommends that all group organisers advise them in advance of possible visits.
Telephone 01722 555124 or email groups@salcath.co.uk

Guided Tours

A number of helpful and extremely knowledgeable trained volunteers can guide groups on tours around the cathedral.

A Cathedral Floor Tour, which includes the Chapter House with the Magna Carta, is a good choice for those on their first visit to the cathedral. Specialist tours in stained glass, architecture, embroidery, art and sculpture, plus joint packages in conjunction with Old Sarum and Wilton House, are also available.

The Tower Tour is a fabulous experience and offers groups the opportunity to see behind the scenes of this remarkable building. It explores the spectacular roof space and takes you right up to the foot of the spire, navigating the 332 steps in relatively easy stages and taking around 90 minutes to complete. Scheduled tours can be booked in advance and additional tours can be arranged for larger groups, with a maximum of 12 people per guide leaving at 30 minute intervals.

Events

The cathedral has a comprehensive programme of art exhibitions and festivals taking
place throughout the year. Some of the highlights for 2011 include:

Flare II by Antony Gormley
14th April until the autumn
A piece by the renowned British sculptor will be suspended in the South Transept where natural rays of sunlight will capture and enhance its innate beauty.

Flower Festival 2011
14th June – 19th June
Salisbury Cathedral’s spectacular Flower Festival is masterminded by a Chelsea Gold Medal Award-winning design team, who plan to break new ground in floral design using thousands of flowers, colour and fragrance in a mix of amazing contemporary, traditional and interpretative displays, all created by around 500 flower arrangers.

Sean Henry Contemporary Sculpture
22nd July – 30th October
The sculptor has an international reputation for his uncannily realistic clothed and painted human figures and visitors will discover Henry’s ‘people’ on original cathedral plinths and in unexpected places.

For more information about these, and other, shows visit the cathedral website
www.salisburycathedral.org.uk