Old Sarum (Salisbury)

Trip Start Aug 22, 2009
Trip End Sep 07, 2009

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Day trip out of London

Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Wednesday, September 2, 2009

        The guide at Salisbury Cathedral was an elderly gentleman who had a full basket of wonderful stories about the worthies who are buried there. We were very lucky to enter the the church just as a complete tour of the cathedral was about to begin. We went along and I was being a very good girl, really I was. But when the guide said that Pope Clement VII gave Henry VIII a divorce from Catherine of Aragon, I lost it. I didn't yell, I merely told our guide that Clement never signed a bull of divorce. In the eyes of the Church of Rome, Catherine was his only wife and Mary his only legitimate child. Don’t try to whitewash Henry Tudor around me. 
    Salisbury is really pretty, with a meandering stream that widens out in a very green and verdant park. Tall reeds and many ducks fill out the picture of the perfect English town.  But we were looking for Old Sarum, and she proved very difficult to find.  Before the Gregorian reform homogenized liturgical practice, there were many regional rites, and Sarum (old Salisbury) was one. We wanted to see if we could find some of the music from that rite. A couple of the nice volunteer guides knew what we were talking bout but the Precentor (a liturgical officer) who might know was not available and what about bookstore just on the other side of the gate, but it was closed.  So after a late lunch at the oldest pub in town, named, of course, The New Inn, we went to the Sarum College bookstore and hit a certain mount of paydirt, a whole volume on the Sarum use. (The problem with reading a blog by a church history/music nut is you have to put up with stuff like this.) 
    The truly weird (hidden, strange, arcane) thing about Salisbury is that, at the end of the 18th century, a very popular architect to the rich named James Wyatt was allowed to "restore" the Cathedral. He took out original stained glass, he painted over ceiling frescoes and he moved memorial tombs. Wyatt's idea of restoration was making Salisbury the way he thought it ought to be. But the church, and those who love her, are having the last word. From the glorious altar coverings to the new stained glass and the authentic restoration of the frescoes, Salisbury is a glowing jewel, ever changing and always true.

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