The beautiful cathedral city of Salisbury is set in the county of Wiltshire, and the site of the confluence of Rivers Ebble, Nadder, Wylye, Born and Avon. Salisbury is a popular city break destination welcoming visitors to its world famous attractions including the Cathedral and Stonehenge as well as areas of natural beauty including Salisbury Plain. The city is home to numerous museums, a lively market and historic houses such as Mompesson House and Arundells. Interestingly, Salisbury has been awarded the Purple Flag, obtaining this “gold” standard for its Centre at night in terms of being welcoming to all, providing a wide range of venues and a safer environment for visitors and residents alike.
New Sarum or Salisbury as we know it was established in 1220, although there were prehistoric settlements in the area named Old Sarum dating back to 3000BC. St Bishop Osmund was responsible for building the first Cathedral which is believed to have been constructed between 1075 and 1092, with the site developed further around 1120. The forming of the new town in 1220 was led by Bishop Richard Poore and this would include the construction of the Cathedral, with the town itself built forming a grid pattern. Further development would later include the city walls and the building of High Street Gate, The Queen’s Gate, St Ann’s Gate and St Nicolas’s Gate. A fifth gate would be added in the 19th century to access Cathedral Close and Bishop Wordsworth’s School.
Famous historic visitors to Salisbury include the renowned composer George Frederick Handel, who completed many works whilst staying at a room above St Anne’s Gate. Charles II is also known to have stayed in Salisbury following his defeat to Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester. With the King on the run, he was making his way initially to London helped by Lord Wilmot, Charles Giffard and Lord Derby. Charles II is said to have spent some time at Stonehenge whilst staying in Salisbury and Amesbury before continuing his escape which would actually take him to France and his Mother Queen Henrietta Maria of France.
Salisbury is a historic and cultural city and as such has also been a focus in popular culture.
Films & TV
Sense and Sensibility (1995) starred Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson, with the Oscar winning production filmed at various locations including Mompesson House in Salisbury, used as Mrs Jennings London home.
Stonehenge has featured in many productions including Dr Who and Thor, as well as Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
Sarum by Edward Rutherford is a novel which follows the lives of several families, from prehistoric Britain, to the Roman Empire and throughout history to 1985.
Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens features the Salisbury market, with this regarded as the last picaresque novels by one of our most treasured authors.
The Spire by William Golding is a novel which was inspired by Salisbury Cathedral, with the dark tale of the Dean of the Cathedral and his quest to construct a spire.
Joseph Finnes, the British actor was born in Salisbury on 27th March 1970, and famous for his roles in films such as Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth, Luther and Enemy at the Gates.
David Mitchell was born on the 14th July 1974 and is famously known as being part of the comedy duo Mitchell and Webb, with successes such as TV comedy Peep Show which ran for 48 episodes. Mitchell has also appeared on 10 O’Clock Live together with Jimmy Carr and Charlie Brooker and is a team captain on BBC’s Would I Lie to You.
John Rhys-Davies is another acclaimed actor who was born in Salisbury on 5th May 1944, and is known for his roles in blockbusters such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, as well as the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
Located just outside Salisbury, Stonehenge is one of the world’s most famous prehistoric monuments, dating back to between 3000-2000BC. The famous stones are now part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site together with Avebury Henge, with many theories as to what the stones represent including a place of healing and an ancient burial site.
With evidence that it was originally a Hill Fort dating back to the Iron Age, Old Sarum is Salisbury’s earliest settlement site from 3000 BC. Located close to modern Salisbury, the site later included a castle built by the Normans and King Henry I palace, as well as a cathedral. Today the site is managed by English Heritage.
Dating back to 1220, the magnificent Salisbury Cathedral is located in The Close and dominates the Salisbury skyline. Recognised as one of the finest examples of Early English architecture, the Cathedral’s spire is the tallest in the UK measuring an amazing 123m. The Cathedral is also the site of the biggest Cloister and Cathedral Close in Britain, in addition to famously homing one of the original copies of the Magna Carta.