This post is long overdue, and I do not quite understand why I did not do this at the time. I lived in Salisbury, Wiltshire for just over a year, and the Cathedral dominated the skyline. I had first visited it with my landlord in May of 2013, and we really just dashed in and out, but it was the sort of place that left you awestruck.
I make no bones about it, my pics from then were not great, I was probably in too much of a rush to savour the beauty of the building, and while I was glad to see it at the time, I never thought it would feature in my life for a year. I moved to the city in November of 2013, and I had some time to kill on 22 December to have a proper look around. Logically the blogpost should have happened then, but it did not, so while the date reflects as 22/12/2013, the reality is I am writing this in 2015!
I admit that I do not recall a lot of the things I am going to post here, but then a lot of it is really more about just savouring the beauty and not asking questions.
My favourite images of the cathedral I took late on afternoon in December of 2013 when the sun was low on the horizon and the stonework shone. It is truly a beautiful building; majestic and with so much hidden detail that you can never see it all.
The one thing I do recall about the cathedral is how light it was, it did not have a heavy oppressive feeling like I had felt in St Pauls in London, but then I had not really gone very far into that building so maybe I just judged it wrong at the time. In my view one of the most beautiful objects in the cathedral is the Baptismal Font with its reflecting pool and silent waterflow. It was really magnificent, and made for fascinating photography.
At the time there was a Nativity Scene inside the cathedral, and that is what can be seen in the distance. If I remember correctly, the nativity scene was in the crossing between the North and South Transepts. The South Transept would be to the right in the image above. Standing in the centre of the crossing would put you underneath the 123m (404 ft) spire of the cathedral. Unfortunately I was not able to do the spire tour, but with hindsight wish that I had. The 6500 tonne weight of the spire and tower has bowed the support columns, but that has not stopped it being the tallest church spire in the United Kingdom.
Advancing past the crossing we would enter the Quire, which is where the choir is seated amongst magnificent woodwork and grandeur that these buildings had in abundance.
These are really awe inspiring places to stand at, and I always feel uncomfortable taking photographs in them, possibly it is a sense that this place is special? or maybe my Anglican upbringing is rattling around inside of my head?
The Trinity Chapel is not a grand place, but the stained glass windows make it a very special place. The window, called the Prisoners of Conscience Window, was designed by Gabriel Loire and is dedicated to prisoners of conscience throughout the world. The Chapel is also the site of the Shrine Tomb of Bishop Osmund (died 1099): It is one of three tombs brought here for reburial in 1226 from the previous Cathedral at Old Sarum.
Retracing our steps back to the Crossing, we can get some idea of the Transepts from the image taken from the North Transept to the South Transept, with the Nativity scene in the middle.
.Like so many other churches and cathedrals, Salisbury has its fair share of wall memorials, effigies, plaques, and floor memorials. I am a particular fan of these because often they are truly works of art, and often there is a lot of very good information on them from a military historian point of view. I wont even attempt to show them all, but here are a few.
Of course it is not only about wall memorials and effigies, there is a lot more in the cathedral worth looking at. One of my favourites is the world’s oldest working clock, it is used to strike the hours on the bells. There used to be a separate bell tower and it was housed there until 1789. It is a surprisingly simple piece of automata though, but the age of it is really what makes it so special.
Next to the Cathedral is the Chapter House where the Magna Carta is kept. Unfortunately they do not allow photographs in that area, but it is a beautiful area, and the Magna Carta seems almost insignificant in so grand a space, however, the physical size of the document is not the important part, but the ramifications of it are.
The exterior stonework of the cathedral is amazing, I still do not understand how it was built from a practical point of view. The skill levels of the craftsmen is to be seen to be believed. Yet, in spite of it all, parts of the cathedral are currently being restored, and are clad with scaffolding.
The scaffolding does not detract from the beauty though, I know I tried to photograph a number of the figures in their alcoves, but there were just too many of them. I also looked for Gargoyles on the building and saw very few, or maybe I did not spot them?
There is a lot to see, and of course I did not get up to that spire, but then the tours were always difficult to get especially when the weather was poor. Photography is also very difficult, light conditions are good, but in some cases a flash was needed and I did not really want to use one. I was able to see Lichfield Cathedraltoo and it was interesting comparing the two buildings. These are wonderful churches, and they are history in stone, the ages look down from their walls, and frankly they are really something special in a community.
DRW © 2013-2022. Images recreated 16/04/2016