About Salisbury Cathedral
The present iteration of Salisbury Cathedral was completed in just 38 years, from 1220 to 1258 during the tenure of Bishop Richard Poore who donated the land upon which the cathedral was built. It is without question one of the nation’s most iconic medieval buildings. In total, the cathedral was built with 70,000 tons of stone, 3,000 tons of timber and 450 tons of lead.
The Anglican cathedral in the south-west county of Wiltshire (eight miles from Stonehenge) is one of Britain’s finest examples of Early English Gothic architecture (established in England with the completion of Canterbury Cathedral in 1175) and interestingly is one of only three cathedrals in England to lack a ring of bells – Ely and Norwich are the other two.
Salisbury lays claim to the UKs tallest church spire (123m), its largest cloister and its largest cathedral close. It is home to the world’s oldest working mechanical clock dating back to c.1386 and has a magnificent collection of medieval stained glass windows including the Rose Window.
However, the undoubted star attraction is the presence of perhaps the single most important document in all of English history – the Magna Carta. Only four copies have survived since 1215 and Salisbury has the best preserved. It is thought it was brought to the cathedral in the days after the signing at Runnymede by Elias of Dereham, later Canon of Salisbury, who was charged with distributing the copies. Just so you know, of the other three, two are at the British Library and the third is at Lincoln Cathedral.
It’s housed in the octagonal 13th century Chapter House and visitors can view the magnificent document as part of a permanent interactive exhibition. There are also volunteers on hand to answer even the most obscure questions you might have!
On any tour of England’s historical south-west, a stop at Salisbury Cathedral should be close to the top of your list!