Salisbury Cathedral

Rising prominently above the city of Salisbury is the spire of the magnificent Salisbury Cathedral. It’s one of Britain’s finest medieval cathedrals and is set in the large and tranquil Cathedral Close.

There was previously a cathedral at Old Sarum which was three miles out of the city. However, after disputes between the clergy and guards at Old Sarum, Bishop Richard Poore decided to find a new site for a cathedral and settled on the current site by the water meadows. The cathedral was begun in 1220.

The majority of the building was completed and consecrated in a short time – around 40 years. This makes it one of a few cathedrals to be built in one consistent architectural style – the Early Gothic style.

Sections built later, but maintaining the style, included the cloisters in 1240 and the chapter house in 1263.  The spire was added in 1320 and stands at 123 metres (404 feet). This makes it the tallest spire in England and the second tallest in Europe after Cologne Cathedral at 157 metres (516 feet). Building work to Salisbury Cathedral has since been restricted to restoration and significant strengthening of the 6,000 ton spire.

The original cathedral had an Italian style free-standing campanile (bell) tower, but this was demolished in the late 1700s. The nearby Italianate Church of St Mary and St Nicholas in Wilton still has a fine example of a free-standing campanile.

Salisbury Cathedral contains many unique pieces of history including a clock dating from 1386 which is the oldest working clock in the world. The chapter house displays the best-preserved of the four surviving original copies of the Magna Carta. Among the people buried in the cathedral is Sir Edward Heath, a former Prime Minister, who lived in Arundells in the Cathedral Close.

You can explore the cathedral on your own, but tours of the main floor and the tower are available. The tower tour with its 332 steps is recommended to see inside the foot of the spire and to enjoy the spectacular views over Salisbury and across to Old Sarum. The fabulous Refectory Restaurant, with a glass roof and views up the spire, offer a self-service buffet with a wide choice of refreshments and meals. A gift shop is also on site.


Opening Details

The cathedral is open from 9am to 5pm from Monday to Saturday and 12pm to 4pm on Sundays. However, being an active church it’s recommended that you check their website for opening and service times.

Map & Directions

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