Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral

Infobox UK cathedral
building_name =Salisbury Cathedral
infobox_width =

image_size =
caption =Salisbury Cathedral from the northeast
map_type =
map_size =
map_caption =
location =Salisbury
full_name =Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary
geo =
latitude =
longitude =
county =Wiltshire
country =England
ecclesiastical =yes
denomination =Church of England
province =Canterbury
diocese =Salisbury
bishop =
dean =
organist =
website = []
building =yes
architect =
architecture_style =Early English Gothic
became_cathedral =1220
number_of_cathedrals =
year_built =1220-1320
year_consecrated =
specifications =yes
capacity =
length =
width_transepts =
width_nave =
height_max =
height_nave =
height_choir =25.6m
tower_quantity =1
tower_height =63.8m (without spire)
spire_quantity =1
spire_height =123m
dome_quantity =
dome_height_ex =
dome_height_in =
dome_dia_ex =
dome_dia_in =

Infobox Skyscraper
building_name= Salisbury Cathedral
year_highest =
location= Salisbury, England
antenna_spire= 123m/404ft*
construction_period = 1220-1258 (tower, spire, chapter house added by 1315

Salisbury Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral in Salisbury, England, considered one of the leading examples of Early English architecture.The main body was completed in only 38 years.

The cathedral has the tallest church spire in the United Kingdom (123m/404ft). Visitors can take the "Tower Tour" where the interior of the hollow spire, with its ancient wood scaffolding, can be viewed. The cathedral also has the largest cloister and the largest cathedral close in Britain (80 acres). The Cathedral contains the world's oldest working clock (from AD 1386) and has one of the four surviving original copies of the Magna Carta (all four original copies are in Britain).cite web |last= | first=|title=Visitor Information, Salisbury Cathedral|url= |accessdate=2008-01-17] Although commonly known as Salisbury Cathedral, the official name is the Cathedral of Saint Mary. In 2008, the cathedral is celebrating the 750th anniversary of its consecration in 1258. [cite web |last= | first=|title=750th Anniversary, Salisbury Cathedral|url= |accessdate=2008-01-17]

It is the Mother Church of the Diocese of Salisbury, and seat of the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt. Revd. David Stancliffe.


As a response to deteriorating relations between the clergy and the military at Old Sarum, the decision was taken to resite the cathedral and the bishopric was moved to its present place in Salisbury. [Evans, p. 10-11] The move occurred during the tenure of Bishop Richard Poore, who was a wealthy man and donated the new land for construction. The new cathedral was also paid for by donations, principally by all the canons and vicars of the south-west, who were asked to contribute a fixed annual sum until its completion. [Evans, p. 13] . Legend has it that the Bishop of Old Sarum shot an arrow in the direction he would build the cathedral, the arrow hit a deer and the deer finally died in the place where Salisbury Cathedral is now.

The foundation stone was laid on 28 April 1220. [Evans, p. 15] Due to the high water table in the new location, the cathedral was built on only four feet of foundations, and by 1258 the nave, transepts and choir were complete. The west front was ready by 1265. The cloisters and chapter house were completed around 1280. Because the cathedral was built in only 38 years, Salisbury Cathedral has a single consistent architectural style, Early English Gothic.

The only major sections of the cathedral built later were the Cloisters, Chapter house, tower and spire, which at 404 feet (123 metres) dominated the skyline from 1320. Whilst the spire is the cathedral's most impressive feature, it has also proved to be troublesome. Together with the tower, it added 6,397 tons (6,500 tonnes) to the weight of the building. Without the addition of buttresses, bracing arches and iron ties over the succeeding centuries, it would have suffered the fate of spires on other great ecclesiastical buildings (such as Malmesbury Abbey) and fallen down; instead, Salisbury is the tallest surviving pre-1400 spire in the world.Fact|date=May 2008 To this day the large supporting pillars at the corners of the spire are seen to bend inwards under the strain. The addition of tie beams above the crossing led to a false ceiling being installed below the lantern stage of the tower.

Significant changes to the cathedral were made by the architect James Wyatt in 1790, including replacement of the original rood screen and demolition of the bell tower which stood about 320 feet (100 metres) north west of the main building. Salisbury is one of only three English cathedrals to lack a ring of bells, the others being Norwich Cathedral and Ely Cathedral.

Chapter House and Magna Carta

The chapter house is notable for its octagonal shape, slender central pillar and decorative mediæval frieze. The frieze circles the interior, just above the stalls, and depicts scenes and stories from the books of Genesis and Exodus, including Adam and Eve, Noah, the Tower of Babel, and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The chapter house also displays the best-preserved of the four surviving original copies of Magna Carta. This copy came to Salisbury because Elias of Dereham, who was present at Runnymede in 1215, was given the task of distributing some of the original copies. Later, Elias became a Canon of Salisbury and supervised the construction of Salisbury Cathedral.


The clock dating from about 1386 is the oldest working medieval clock in the world. [cite web |last= | first=|title=Oldest Working Clock, Frequently Asked Questions, Salisbury Cathedral|url= |accessdate=2008-01-17] The clock has no face because all clocks of that date rang out the hours on a bell. It was originally located in a bell tower that was demolished in 1792. The clock was then placed in storage and forgotten until it was discovered in 1929, in an attic of the cathedral. It was repaired and restored to working order in 1956. In 2007 remedial work and repairs were carried out to the clock. [cite web |last= | first=|title=Clock repaired, Salisbury Cathedral |url= |accessdate=2008-01-17]


The Cathedral choir has triplet cathedral choristers. Matt, Thomas and Ewan Stockwell. Ewan was Bishops Chorister being the eldest.

Depictions in art, literature and film

The cathedral is the subject of famous paintings by John Constable. The view depicted in the paintings has changed very little in almost two centuries.

The cathedral is also the subject of William Golding's novel "The Spire" which deals with the fictional Dean Jocelin who makes the building of the spire his life's work.

In Edward Rutherfurd's historical novel "Sarum," the narrative deals with the human settlement of the Salisbury area from pre-historic times just after the last Ice Age to the modern era. The construction of the Cathedral itself, its famous spire, bell tower and Charter House are all important plot points in the novel, which blends historic characters with invented ones.

The cathedral featured as the setting for the 2005 BBC television drama Mr. Harvey Lights a Candle, written by Rhidian Brook and directed by Susanna White. A teacher takes a party of unruly London fifth-form school children on an outing to the cathedral, and, unbeknownst to them, marking the day 21 years previously when he had proposed to his girlfriend who had later committed suicide. The journey is also his personal pilgrimage to regain his lost spirituality.

Organs and Organists


The organ was built in 1877 by Henry Willis & Sons.

[ Details of the organ from the National Pipe Organ Register]


* 1463 John Kegewyn
* 1563 Robert Chamberlayne
* 1568 Thomas Smythe
* 1587 John Farrant (Senior)
* 1592 John Farrant (Junior)
* 1618 Edward Tucker
* 1629 Giles Tompkins
* 1668 Michael Wise
* 1689 Peter Isaacke
* 1692 Daniel Roseingrave
* 1700 Anthony Walkley
* 1718 Edward Thompson
* 1746 John Stevens
* 1781 Robert Parry
* 1792 Joseph Corfe
* 1804 Arthur Thomas Corfe
* 1863 John Elliot Richardson
* 1881 Bertram Luard Selby
* 1883 Charles South
* 1916 Walter Galpin Alcock, MVO
* 1947 David V. Willcocks, MC
* 1950 Douglas Guest
* 1957 Christopher Dearnley
* 1968 Richard Seal
* 1997 Simon Lole
* 2005 David Halls (current)


See also

*List of cathedrals in the United Kingdom
*List of tallest churches
* Architecture of the medieval cathedrals of England
* English Gothic architecture
* Church of England
* Salisbury Cathedral School



* Evans, Sydney. "Salisbury Cathedral: A reflective Guide", Michael Russell Publishing, Salisbury. 1985.

External links

* [ Official website]
* [ Adrian Fletcher's Paradoxplace – Salisbury Cathedral and Magna Carta Page]
* [ Sarum Use] at OrthodoxWiki.
* [ A history of the choir]
* [ Photographs]
* [ Flickr images]
* [ Panoramic tour]
* [ Photos of architectural detail]
* [ Salisbury official tourism website]

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