Salisbury - Stockbridge - Winchester

Trip Start Jul 06, 2011
Trip End Aug 04, 2011

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The 11th was taken up with travel - a train from Grantham to London, a taxi across the city, another train to Salisbury (the milk train - stopping everywhere) and a drive out to my bed & breakfast. 

This morning after a fine Full English Breakfast my friend, our next door neighbor from my days of living in London, and I toured Salisbury Cathedral.  I have been there many times, as had she, but it is always amazing.

Salisbury Cathedral was begun in 1220.  The quire, transepts and nave were completed in only 38 years and the west front was completed by 1258.  Because it was built so quickly it is all in one style, Early English Gothic.  That means fairly simple, pointed arches.  The tower and spire were added in the beginning of the 14th century.  Its weight caused the four piers at the central crossing to buckle a bit, so flying buttresses were added to take some of the weight, a necessity which added to the grandeur of the building.  Much of the wood carving in the quire (where the choir sits) is original from the 13th century.  It is amazing.  The vaulted ceiling from the quire to the east end has designs painted in the 19th century, but based on the original painted ceiling.  Some of the stonework within the arches is painted.  It is often difficult for us to imagine that much of the cathedral would have been brightly painted when we are used to seeing only plain stonework. 

The first person buried in the cathedral had the unfortunate name of William Longespee.  He was a half brother of the cruelly evil King John and was one of the advisers in the making of the Magna Carta (see below).

The cathedral houses a medieval clock, dated 1386, and reputed to be the oldest clock in the world.  I am fairly certain that I have seen a clock in China predating that by quite a bit, but the western world ignores eastern history just as the eastern world ignores the west.

The cathedral also contains some very modern artwork: a hanging that looks rather like a model of a molecule made with coat hangers,a very beautiful baptismal font which acts as a fountain, the Amnesty International candle, and several modern embroidered altar frontals.

The cloisters are lovely, but no monks have ever resided at the cathedral.  Off of the cloisters sits the Chapter House.  Architecturally it is beautiful, but no photos are allowed.  It is now dedicated to the display of one of the four remaining copies of the Magna Carta.

By 1215 King John had virtually destroyed the lives of his subjects through cruelty and taxation.  The great barons of the land drew up a treaty, the Great Charter or Magna Carta, as a basic bill of rights.  Basically they forced the king to sign it.  It was promptly annulled by the pope, but later reinstated.  It forms the basis for English law.  Its most famous chapter reads: 'No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or deprived or outlawed or exiled or in any way ruined ... except by the lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land.'  Sound familiar?  It is written in abbreviated medieval Latin on a piece of vellum which is prepared calfskin, and written incredibly small.  How they kept a quill that sharp is beyond my knowledge!

After a bite to eat at the cathedral cafe we started across Salisbury Plain towards Winchester, stopping in the lovely village of Stockbridge for a cream tea at Lilly Langtree's.  Once in Winchester, which is really not very far from Salisbury, we had the most difficult time finding the actual city center which housed the cathedral and my hotel.  After asking we were pointed in the direction.  We stopped again and it turned out to be at the end of the street.  My hotel is a hop, skip and a jump from the cathedral.  I am on the 2nd floor (which is the 3rd by American counting), up a very narrow, curved stairway with steps shorter than the length of my rather short foot.  I hold on for dear life going down those stairs!
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Kai Liu on

Marjorie, thank you very much for these beautiful pictures! It is very good to see yourself in the picture too. Looks like you are having a wonderful trip.

Tom Kulananan on

Very much enjoying your blog and photos, Marjorie. What a great trip!

bed and breakfast salisbury on

Thank you so much for sharing your experience.It seems that you have enjoyed there a lot.

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