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Spotlight On Salisbury Cathedral

Let us take you around the beautiful and fascinating Salisbury Cathedral.

Consecrated in 1258, Salisbury Cathedral had taken 38 years to build but was originally without it's distinctive spire. The imposing spire was completed 70 years later and has dominated the landscape around ever since.

The Font
Prisoner of Conscience window

The Cathedral is a working Church well adept to adapting to the realities of its task in the modern world.You won't find anyone apologetic about a modern font, or the blue stained glass 'Prisoner of Conscience' window and this juxtaposition of ancient and modern works superbly!

Despite its vast size the Cathedral foundations are only about 4.5ft deep! The stability of the structure is owed to the fact that it sits on a wet gravel seam.A close eye is kept on the water, look out for the small block with a ring in it at the spire crossing.This is lifted and a measuring stick placed into it to measure the water level - ask a guide to show you!

The Cathedral has many boasts, the best preserved 1215 Magna Carta, the oldest mechanical clock in the world, original medieval stained glass, as examples, but did you know that it has the earliest known Arabic writing in England? The writing, numbers in fact, are etched into a number of roof beams. These numbers would have been marked on the wood at ground level after it had been cut and told the carpenters how the beams fit together once in the roof space. Interestingly this also indicates that the men working on the Cathedral were not all English and potentially not all Christian.

The development of Christian worship in England can be seen in the very fabric of the Cathedral, from it's magnificent structure to the patches of lime wash obliterating the original medieval ceiling decoration and the clear windows which replaced the stained glass during the 'Age of Enlightenment' in the 17th and 18th centuries.

When you visit Salisbury Cathedral be sure to make time to visit Old Sarum and the remains of the old Salisbury Cathedral where the Magna Carta was originally delivered to.

There is so much to see at the Cathedral so be sure to make use of the extremely knowledgeable and friendly guides while you are there. Ask them about the original Quire screen (now back to front and cut down to fit into the Morning Chapel where it was moved in 1789), the 'bumping stone' and the cheeky monkey waiting to throw nuts at unsuspecting passers by!

Vital Statistics

38 years to build

Tallest spire in Britain!

The spire weighs 6,500 tons (which made the stone pillars bend!)

404ft - height of cross

475ft - length of Cathedral

4.5ft - depth of foundations!

Built using:

60,000 tons of stone

2,800 tons of oak

420 tons of lead

Magna Carta

It's 800 years since the Magna Carta was first sealed by King John in June 1215, at Runnymede.

What was first a peace treaty between King and Barons has, through it's many revivals and alterations, become a powerful ideological symbol for liberty, democracy and freedom.

Salisbury houses an extremely well preserved, though seal-less, 1215 Magna Carta, one of only 4 known surviving copies.Look out for the 'Indulgence' issued by Archbishop Stephen Langton, circa 1220, granting the forgiveness of 30 days sin for anyone contributing money to the building of Salisbury Cathedral!

Make sure you see....

Philippa wearing her 'I climbed the tower' badge.


A beautiful experience that you must try and get to if you are able.Turn up in good time to be able to sit in the original, 13th Century, Quire stalls and listen to the enchanting sounds of the Cathedral Choir (visiting choirs in their absence). Evensong is 17:30 every day except Sundays when it is held at 16:30.

The Tower Walk

If your legs and your nerve of heights can stand it then this is a great thing to do! You will experience fantastic views of the Cathedral and the landscape around it.A guide begins by explaining about the materials and the man power it took to build the cathedral before taking you up into the roof space above the nave and on to climb the spire itself!

Although you will need to leave your bags in one of the secure lockers at the bottom of the tower, remember your camera as one of the first sights you get is a fantastic uninterrupted view down the entire length of the Cathedral whilst also getting up close to some of the original medieval stained glass.There is much to see on your way to those fantastic views from the spire, the bells, medieval scaffolding, and a people powered winch!

You will be offered ear plugs before your climb as the bells ring every 15 minutes and chime the hour.

Medieval Clock

The oldest working mechanical clock in the World, built in 1386, used to be responsible for the ringing of the bells.


A beautiful, modern font installed in 2008, runs like an infinity pool and is large enough for an adult to be fully submerged in Baptism.

Prisoner of Conscience Window

Installed in 1980, this beautiful window explores the story of Christ's crucifixion in this context, as one who refused to abandon his beliefs. An act of true conscience speaks to all faiths and humanists alike and this was a conscious aim of the then Dean, Sidney Evans. The amnesty candle burns below the window.

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