Sunday, 8 July 2018

A day in Salisbury

On Thursday John and I had a day in and around Salisbury Cathedral. The day started with a very good cooked breakfast. We only have a cooked breakfast when we are away and so we really enjoy it. When I say a cooked breakfast I mean a full English cooked breakfast, sausage, bacon, beans, egg, tomato, mushroom and a hash brown. Feeling well fed we had some free time until 10:30 so we went for a short walk around the city. Salisbury is a small city with a population of approximately 40,000. We covered the city centre with ease and I was able to identify some shops I wanted to visit later in the day. We had a tour of the cathedral booked so we met up with the rest of our group and arrived in plenty of time. From our room we were able to see the cathedral spire.

but it was lovely to get a good look at the whole thing. Here is the cathedral from the close road

and from the west side.

The cathedral has beautiful cloisters

and one side is used as additional seating for the cafe. After our tour we treated ourselves to coffee and a slice of lemon drizzle cake.

There was an amazing installation of 2500 white origami doves that fly the length of the nave. Les Colombes is by Michael Pendry and carries the message of resilience, peace and hope.

The very modern font reflected the doves

The font was rather surreal. It is large enough to totally submerge an adult and the water was constantly pouring off the corners and being recirculated. The font was designed by British water sculptor William Pye and installed in the cathedral in 2008 as part of the 750th anniversary of the consecration of the cathedral.

Whichever way you looked at it the water held reflections of the things around it. The tour guide told us about one lady who saw the font as a flat surface so put her handbag on it and was very surprised when it sank. When no one was touching it and disturbing the water it did look like a shiny black table. The quire was very ornate with lots of carving.

I also liked the patterns on the floor tiles.

We were also told the story of this little monkey that was found up high above one of the tombs.

Following the tour of the cathedral we had some free time to go shopping and have lunch. John and I walked around the city finding the market place 

and the clock tower. I also fitted in time to try on a couple of dresses which I bought. I always like some retail therapy when away from home.

Later that afternoon I went on the tower tour. This involved climbing a lot of steps. The tower is 225 feet high and then the spire takes the height to 404 feet. The climb was divided into stages and at the end of stage 1 we met this fox which was a piece recently made by an apprentice stone mason as he completed his apprenticeship.

Having admired the fox we looked along the roof space above the vaulted ceiling of the nave. The spaces dipped down 15 feet. We had to walk along the walkway to the opposite end so we could enter the stone staircase up into the tower.

The cathedral was originally built without a spire and the additional weight of this caused the tower walls to bend outwards so inside we were shown the bracing being used to ensure the tower stands firm. A lot of the bracing was added when the spire was added as the builders were aware it had never been intended to have a spire. We were told that the white cast iron bracing was put in by Christopher Wren and on the outside of the tower there is similar bracing that is linked to that on the inside by more cast ironwork that goes through the walls. They monitor any movement of the tower very carefully to ensure safety of everyone who enters the cathedral. Apparently it hasn't moved more than a few millimetres.

From here there were two wooden spiral staircases that took us up to the top of the tower and the base of the spire. Here we had a photo of the group that had climbed the tower. I like being taking the photos so I can avaid being in too many

I also took a photo of the inside of the spire to show the mass of oak timber that holds it together. The ladder at the bottom of the picture is the first of several that allows the person who has to change the red warning light on the top of the spire to climb up. The final bit of that journey is on the outside of the spire. Obviously the person undertaking the job has safety lines attached. The light has to be on top of the spire to warn aircraft of the height

The view from the top of the tower were great. We could only go out on three of the sides as they have a pair of peregrine falcons nesting on the 4th side.

The tower tour was exciting but tiring. By the time we had climbed down from the tower it was almost time for dinner which turned into a very lively affair with lots of wine. After dinner some of us went walking in the cooler air and stopped for a while at a pleasant pub by the river. 

I still have one more day to tell you about and that involves several fabric items. 



  1. What an incredible place! Beautiful architecture. Simply amazing.

  2. What a wonderful experience to climb the tower. A great way to finish your visit to the city.