Monday, 2 June 2014

Salisbury Cathedal

"I never weary of great churches. It is my favourite kind of mountain scenery. Mankind was never so happily inspired as when it made a cathedral." Robert Louis Stevenson
via
Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishops Grounds - V&A, London  
This painting was commissioned from John Constable by Dr. John Fisher, the Bishop of Salisbury in 1825. Constable included the Bishop and his wife admiring the spire whilst strolling along the footpath to the cathedral.
Salisbury Cathedral took 160 years to complete from its foundations in 1220 to the top of its massive tower. It is a beautiful example of Early English Gothic. The spire (123 m) is the tallest in Britain. It is the tallest 14th century spire, the tallest ashlar masonry spire, unlike the openwork spires of Germany and France, and the tallest spire that remains from the medieval period that has not been entirely rebuilt.
Old Sarum - Iron Age fort - there is evidence of human habitation here as early as 3000 BC
An earlier Norman cathedral was built in 1075 on the hilltop Iron Age fort of Old Sarum but abandoned during the early 13th century as a result of deteriorating relations between the clergy and the military. The move occurred during the tenure of Bishop Richard Poore, a wealthy man, who donated the land on which the cathedral now stands. Sitting on the Salisbury Plains it is just 1½ miles away from Old Sarum. Salisbury Cathedral is therefore very unusual in that it is built entirely in the Early English Gothic style and does not have any Saxon or Norman foundations or remains. 
Looking towards the east down the central nave
Contemporary baptismal font in the centre of the nave, a piece of water sculpture designed by William Pye
William Pye, has paid homage to the Gothic surroundings and given the font a cruciform shape, and although it is an extremely beautiful piece of water sculpture, for me, it does not sit comfortably with the rest of the building. The surface water in the font mirrors the cathedrals windows and stonework creating an impressive illusion.
This medieval clock was made around 1386. It is thought to be the oldest working clock in existence - like all clocks from that period it has no face but strikes the hour on a bell located in the Cathedral's roof.
Looking down the nave to the west door from the crossing. Grey Purbeck marble pillars support stone pillars which carry the 6,500 tonne spire above 
  the three aisles
Decorated rib vaulted ceiling above The Choir
13th century wooden stalls
The high altar - a modern window created in 1980 by Gabriel Loire of Chartres, using the glass hues from the 13th century of deep blue, red, and yellow
The colourful tomb of Richard Mompesson, Knight, and Dame Katherine, his third wife
It is said that the marble tablet above Richard was left blank in order that his sons could have inscribed noble thoughts about him after his death, but it still remains blank!
Screen behind the high altar looking down the nave to the west door
Vestry door
The cloisters lead to the chapter house - on display is the best preserved of only four original copies of the Magna Carta (1215) no photos are allowed

47 comments:

  1. Such beautiful and well-preserved historical building. It is rare to find such old buildings that are still original. It really withstood all human and natural violence.That alone is amazing.
    The Magna Carta. Would love to see that as well. Must be just as amazing to see. Pity you couldn't take any pictures. Guess we'll just have to go see it for ourselves once which I wouldn't mind. I'd love to cross the Northsea to visit your beautiful country once again.
    Marian
    Marian

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    1. I hope that you will come back again Marian and hopefully visit Salisbury next time.
      There are lots of places nearby to visit - Stonehenge, Wilton House which I will do a post on, Winchester etc.

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  2. Hello Rosemary:

    How lovely to see these images of Salisbury Cathedral which remains possibly our favourite, if it really is possible to have one, amongst all the English cathedrals. What appeals to us particularly is that it is all of one period and its setting in the Close is, perhaps, incomparable.

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    1. Hello Jane and Lance - I would find it extremely difficult to choose a favourite English cathedral, but Salisbury must be up there in the top ten.

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  3. Another British treasure so well-preserved!This English gothic has always fascinated me by the strengh and stability of the pointed arches. A very interesting post Rosemary.And as I didn't leave a comment in a previous post,I want to tell you now how sorry I was, I am still, about the fire and the destruction of Glascow School of Art which I knew through your blog...a great pity.
    Wishing you a lovely week ahead
    Olympia

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    1. Dear Olympia - I have learnt that the Glasgow School of Art is definitely going to be restored. I know from other restorations i.e. Windsor Castle following their fire, that it will be done exactly as it was originally. However, it was a sad day for the many of us who loved that building.
      Gothic architecture looks very slender and refined, but to be able to hold that mighty spire up for over 500 years it must be more robust than it looks.

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  4. A favourite place of ours. We did the spire tour early this year ... an amazing experience and something I know you would love if you ever visit again.

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    1. I do recall seeing your post Jane, and must have another look at it. Unfortunately time is never on our side, we went on to Wilton House after Salisbury.

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  5. Hello Rosemary, In a building like this, where almost everything is so old and so magnificent, I think that there is no need to "blend old and new," so I agree with you that the font, despite its good qualities, is out of place here, especially the lower part which frankly looks like drainage plates in a parking lot. Still, it seems that everywhere you turn offers some fascinating feature--I particularly liked the old clock works.

    I would have been awed to view the Magna Carta manuscript, a document that did much to define the modern idea of freedom and rights.
    --Jim

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    1. The old clock is very interesting to see Jim, it is wonderful to think that it still works and has been doing so for almost 550 years.
      You will have to pay a visit to see Magna Carta. It was interesting to see how many overseas tourists were looking at it, and also how many different language descriptions were available.

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  6. I have only viewed Salisbury catherdal from the outside, thank you for showing me what I have been missing. Sarah x

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    1. You must go in next time Sarah - it is a very impressive and beautiful building.

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  7. Dear Rosemary,

    You are right that I am very enamoured of the Salisbury Cathedral, and I would absolutely echo the sentiments of Robert Louis Stevenson. For me, as I look down the nave, the spareness of decoration is a most elegant suggestion of all things spiritual and etherial. Adornment would only detract from those magnificent uplifting lines.

    I'm intrigued by the flags that appear to have been reduced by age to a state of only webbing.

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    1. Dear Mark - I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing the Gothic interior of Salisbury Cathedral - it is surprising that those seemingly slim elegant pillars can support Salisbury's mighty spire and have done so for hundreds of years.
      I can throw no light on the flags except that they are the flags and standards of local army regiments that merged or were disbanded years ago. I too was intrigued by their distressed state, which I found appealing enough to photograph. I believe that the thread bare ones are 300 years old.

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  8. I love Salisbury Cathedral, it is my favourite of all I think. I am glad that you like the Constable it is a lovely view isn't it. A funny - although slightly sad too - story about the Magna Carta, when a relative of mine used to be a guide in the Cathedral she was showing some people the Magna Carta one day and someone asked why the hadn't used biro to sign it as it would have lasted better! I am not sure that people realise quite how old the document is and what effect that it still has on our lives. Glad that you had such a good visit, so good to see your photos! xx

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    1. Thank you for your visit Amy and glad you liked the photos - when a comment such as you mention is made it take a moment to absorb the enormity of what has been said, and then it is difficult to know quite how to respond.

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  9. I visited Salisbury cathedral some ten years ago. It was so beautiful!!!!!!!!!!
    I guess the contemporary baptismal font must be quite recent (?) as I do not remember it at all!
    Thanks for bringing back so nice memories!!
    I wish you a happy month of June!
    Marie-Anne

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    1. Hello Marie-Anne - the font was installed 6 years ago. I am delighted that this post reminded you of your own visit to Salisbury, and I am pleased that you enjoyed it - thank you.

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  10. I've always loved that Constable painting of Salisbury Cathedral. What a magnificent building it is, and wonderful that it is all original. So many lovely things, and I do like the painted ceiling very much. I'm not so sure about the Baptismal font, which does jar a little in the surroundings. I feel the same about some contemporary elements recently introduced into our local Gothic Cathedral. One of the four original Magna Carta documents visited Brisbane in 1988, the year of our International Expo - I thought it the most fascinating item at the entire fair!

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    1. Constable did several paintings of Salisbury which I am sure you know, there is the one with the rainbow, but his one is my favourite.
      You were fortunate to see Magna Carta - I loved the exceptionally small but perfect copper plate handwriting on the vellum - a work of intricate artistry.

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  11. What a lovely Cathedral...what a long time too build this Cathedral...but I think he
    is verry big...verry beautiful.
    Have a nice week Rosemary.

    Greetings,
    Inge, my choice

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    1. I think that it is a Gothic masterpiece Inge.

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  12. Dear Rosemary,
    I admire your photos! I (re)visted Salisbury Cathedral last year, after the narrow-boat trip. (We even met the bishop - there was a conference). It is such a peaceful location.

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    1. Dear Britta - glad that you like the photos - you are more well acquainted with Salisbury than I am - this is only my third visit over many years and I have yet to meet the bishop.

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    2. Foreign language: we saw him, he didn't meet us as a personal favour.

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    3. Foreign language here too - I was being a bit "tongue in cheek" ♡

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  13. Wow. Such a well-preserved, historical building. It would be amazing to visit Salisbury. You live in a beautiful country, Rosemary.

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    1. We must have been looking at each others blogs at the same time - your comment arrived just as I posted one on yours.

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    2. Dear Rosemary,what a beautiful building!Salisbury must be a very interesting place to visit!!I have visited a cathedral,a long time ago, in Prague, Czech Republic, I was impressed by the architecture and the beautiful stained glass!Your pictures are gorgeous as always!Wishing you a lovely week!!
      Dimi...

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    3. Prague is a lovely city which I too visited many many years ago. Glad that you enjoyed seeing Salisbury cathedral which is such a lovely example of Gothic architecture.

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  14. That is one magnificent Cathedral. The wealth way back then & I can't imagine how is was built.

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    1. It is a building that it would be unimaginable to build today.

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  15. Salisbury Cathedral is a beautiful building and place of worship. It's the elegance of the stone and contrasting colour of the marble pillars in the naves and impression of lightness due to the numerous windows that make it one of my favourite English cathedrals. I like the modern font and the scripture from Isaiah that has been used on it and would be interested to see it in person. My grandson lives and works in Salisbury and one day I hope to visit him there and revisit the Cathedral.

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    1. Two very good excuses to visit Salisbury Linda - firstly to see your grandson and secondly to revisit the cathedral.

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  16. I too love Salisbury Cathedral, steeped in history and beautiful architecture. Stunning photos. My next favourite is Winchester Cathedral. Thanks for sharing Rosemary.
    Patricia x

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    1. It is too difficult for me to choose a favourite cathedral Patricia they all have their own different merits, but like you I am very fond of Winchester too.

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  17. A lot of memories, I was there many years ago, Salisbury, Wichester, Andover, Stonehenge, and the Iron age fort, It was a great trip

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    1. Delighted that this post reminded you of many memories Marina - thank you for you comment and visit.

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  18. Smashing photos Rosemary, the reflection of the window in the font is breath-taking and fits in so well with its surroundings. I am slowly catching up in blog land today, loved your piece on Abbey House. Hope you are having a great week. Paul:)

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    1. Thank you Mr Paul - time is running away with me at the moment too, how I would love to see a few blank days in my diary. The surface of the water in the font must be perfectly level even though it is overflowing all the time - I have never come across such mirror like reflections from water before.

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  19. Salisbury Cathedral is so impressive and your pictures are just stunning. We were there last year during our holidays and I think it is one of the most beautiful in your country, but your country is full of heritage and history, so interesting.

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment Janneke - I am pleased that this post reminded you of your own visit to Salisbury.

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  20. Thanks you for this lovely post, Rosemary, on what I think must be the perfect combination of building and setting in Britain. I love the unity of style in Salisbury and it was finished extraordinarily quickly in comparison to many other cathedrals. Methinks it's time I planned another visit....

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    1. Dear Perpetua - since I have been writing posts on various churches, cathedrals, abbeys, and great houses, I have realised even more what an enormous architectural wealth we have in our country.

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  21. I have just been blog hopping and arrived at your lovely blog. I visited Salisbury at the beginning of June this year. Although I have visited Salisbury before it was my first time in the Cathedral (there is a story behind that). It is a fantastic Cathedral and you have some great photos of it :-)

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    1. We must have been there at about the same time - glad you enjoyed the photos - do call again.

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    2. My visit to Salisbury was the 5th to 8th June. I visited the Cathedral on the 7th June :-)

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