Salisbury Cathedral is unique. It boasts the tallest spire in England; the largest cloister; Europe's oldest working clock; and the Chapter House houses an original copy of the Magna Carta. The building work was completed within one century, giving the cathedral a unified feel unlike any other in England.
Permission was granted by the Pope in 1219 to move from the windy, exposed and inconvenient site at Old Sarum and to build a new cathedral at New Sarum (Salisbury).
Work to build the new cathedral began in 1220 with the majority of the cathedral being completed by 1258. The Chapter House was added in 1280. The West Front of the cathedral was built by 1255, but the statues appeared later, by 1300. Sixty further statues were added in Victorian times. Ten of the original statues on the West Front remain in situ today. More recently, two statues of angels have been added as well as a statue of St Aldhelm. The tower and spire, which measures 123 metres, were added around 1330.
Over the past few years, extensive repair and conservation work have taken place, including the cleaning of the West Front. This major renovation work was completed in 2000.
The Cathedral Close is the largest in Britain, and is extremely well preserved. The Close grew up around the cathedral, as those who worked there were given land on which to build their houses.
The Canons were each given one and a half acres, with the Dean, Precentor, Chancellor, Treasurer and Archdeacons all allotted three acres each. The Bishop built a grand palace which has been used by the Cathedral School since 1947.
In 1331, the wall and gates of the Close were built, using stone from the cathedral at Old Sarum which had been demolished in 1327.
Four members of the Chapter are now resident in the Close. Most of the other buildings are leased from the Dean and Chapter. Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum is located in the King's House; and the Royal Gloucester, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiments' Museum is housed in The Wardrobe (Redcoats in the Wardrobe).
Salisbury Cathedral has been made famous through the paintings of John Constable (1776-1837) who painted many views of the cathedral, including 'Salisbury Cathedral from the River' (1820), 'Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Garden' (1823), and 'Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows' (1831).
In 2002, readers of Country Life magazine voted a photograph of Salisbury Cathedral 'Britain's best view'.
The cathedral was built within one century, with no substantial later additions, giving it a completeness not found in other cathedrals.
Salisbury Cathedral from Harnham Marshes
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