London Lantern

Putting the Spotlight on London

Day Trips From London - Salisbury

20/08/2001, By Michael Tebbutt

Reader Rating: 2.9 from 13406 votes

It is an astonishing fact that Salisbury Cathedral, which carries the tallest medieval structure in the world at 404 feet, stands on foundations which are a mere four feet deep. This in an area which, located as it is at the joining of four rivers, is understandably noted for an abundance of water but which is, none the less, underlaid with vast beds of gravel.

Lest this deter the more cautious visitor, the spire has been standing since 1315, though not without a good deal of costly attention. In 1823 it inspired John Constable to paint the classic view from the grounds of the former Bishop’s Palace, now the Cathedral School.

Salisbury Cathedral’s other claim to fame is that it was effectively completed in 38 years by 300 men, thus ensuring one Gothic style throughout. No architectural patchwork quilt here!

As ever with a location boasting one dominant feature it is all too easy to overlook what else is to be enjoyed. Salisbury has an abundance of attractions as well as its superb Cathedral.

The city enjoyed an era of prosperity during the 15th-18th centuries, founded on cloth, but this declined and the area now depends upon tourism, light industry and the market. Fortunately the forces of conservation have been able to prevent any major damage to the ancient structure of the city and the Cathedral Close in particular is completely unspoiled.

Notable in The Close is Malmesbury House which started life in 1228 as a canonry. Since then it has been rebuilt and altered to its present delightful form. In its time the house has hosted Charles II and Handel, and is still privately owned though open to visitors.

The National Trust owns Mompesson House, also in The Close. In 1624 the Dean thought it inappropriate for an inn to located there and succeeded in having it closed. In its place rose the present Wren-style house, completed 1701, and presented to the Trust in 1939. Good plasterwork and an oak staircase provide an elegant backdrop to period furniture, the Stonehenge Gallery and the Turnbill Collection of 18th century drinking glasses.

And whilst there try to find time for the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum located at No. 65, otherwise known as The King’s House. Ten galleries set out in detail the history of Salisbury and the area, including archaeological collections and temporary exhibitions. It is an excellent place for a quiet cup of coffee and a tasteful shop.

As might be expected in such a watery place (there were narrow canals in some streets until 1852) there are two water mills, Bishop’s Mill and Harnham Old Mill, both now used as restaurants.

Probably the finest timber-framed building remaining is the Joiner’s Hall. Built around 1635 this one-time meeting place of the Joiner’s Guild contains, as might be expected, some magnificent timber work and the overall construction is a delight.

Within easy reach of the city is Stonehenge, that brooding mystery of significant stones dating from around 2800 BC, still defying attempts to fathom its purpose. There is a good bus service from Salisbury if you have found somewhere handy to berth the car.

Wilton House, home to the Earls of Pembroke, 3 miles west of Salisbury on the A30, is notable for its Single and Double Cube Rooms. Inigo Jones, architect of St Paul’s Cathedral, London, rebuilt the house after a major fire in 1647.

In addition to the architectural splendour of the house there is located here one of the finest private collections of art in UK, with paintings by Van Dyck, Rubens and Brueghel.

Nearby are a splendid Garden Centre, the Wilton Trading Village and the Wilton Carpet Factory where visitors can see the looms at work as well taking in the history of carpet making in the excellent museum.

By now thoughts will be turning to the inner man. If you like history with your meal try The Pheasant, one of Salisbury’s oldest buildings. Centrally located it offers good food and a range of interesting ales.

Harpers, in the Market Square, specialises in genuine English food and snacks. Should your requirements be even more English-orientated go for the real thing at Yorkshire Fisheries in Fisherton Road, where quality fish and chips can be eaten there or taken out.

For something rather more sophisticated there is Cactus Jack’s Bar and Restaurant in Water Lane, with excellent food and a good range of imported beers.

Salisbury is about two hours drive from London down the M4. The M3 is a slightly longer option.

Link For Day Trips To Salisbury:

Rate this article: [-]  1 2 3 4 5 [+] 

More Articles  | Log in to Have Your Say

Re: Suggested Day Trip From London - Salisbury

By Louis Marchiony Jr. 17/09/2001, (Rating: 2.9 from 12360 votes)

404 feet tall and only a four foot foundation? After reading this article, many university architecture and physics proffessors will be dining on crow! What an assortment of places of interest! This is on my itinerary for my trip to the UK. Now here is a question that may get me included in "Where Do They Get These Ideas?" part II....

In the USA there is a popular dish called the "Salisbury Steak". I have always wondered, did this dish actually originate in Salisbury?

Rate this response: [-] 1 2 3 4 5 [+] 

Log in to Respond

Re: Suggested Day Trip From London - Salisbury

By Richard, Earl of Bradford 31/10/2001, (Rating: 2.9 from 12362 votes)

<b>Copied from the Word Detective</b>

Until I started researching your question, I had always just assumed that Salisbury steak bore some connection, either actual or apocryphal, to the city of Salisbury in England, near Stonehenge. It turns out, however, that the story of Salisbury steak is a bit more complicated than that, and quite a bit weirder.

In the first place, there's been a change in the recipe for "Salisbury steak" over the years. Today's "Salisbury steak" is usually (theoretically, at least) ground beef mixed with bread crumbs, eggs and milk, cooked and served as a sort of thick patty and often covered in thick brown gravy. Salisbury steak is, ironically, often found on the menu at both the high and low ends of the dining spectrum. Fancy-schmantzy restaurants that would never dream of serving plain old hamburgers offer it to children and other vulgarians, while the ground-and-gravy aspects of the dish make it a perfect dumping ground for whatever mystery meat less selective chefs may have on their hands.

The original "Salisbury steak," however, was simply well-cooked plain hamburger, and was "invented" in 1888 by Dr. James H. Salisbury, an English physician. Dr. Salisbury, who seems to have been pretty seriously whacked, maintained that a diet of well-cooked hamburger three times daily, washed down with large glasses of very hot water, would cure almost any disease.

"Salisbury steak" would probably have faded away along with the odd Dr. Salisbury had not World War I come along and inspired a popular drive in Britain and America to rename all things German. Sauerkraut became "victory cabbage," hamburgers (named after Hamburg, Germany) became "liberty sandwiches," and "Salisbury steak" became the preferred name for the bunless hamburger up to then known simply as "hamburger steak." Although the names "hamburger" and "sauerkraut" reappeared as soon as the war was over, "Salisbury steak" stuck, probably due to its usefulness to restaurateurs as a fancy euphemism for humble ground beef.

Rate this response: [-] 1 2 3 4 5 [+] 

Log in to Respond

Salisbury (added)

By Dennis Radke, Anglophile 03/10/2001, (Rating: 2.9 from 12429 votes)

Those planning a trip to Salisbury might want to obtain a copy of "Sarum" - the Roman name for the place. The author's name escapes me.

The book is rather thick and is a saga of England, covering the period from the land bridge to mid-20th
Century. Give yourself a minimum of two weeks to digest the book.

Now I do not like sagas, but it was given to me and it had been autographed by the author. From about page six onward I could not put the book down.

It covers, in a very creative way, the construction of Stonhenge, the building of the fortified hilltop of Sarum, the Black Plague, the construction of Salisbury Cathedral and many other events.

So, having read that, Salisbury - and Sarum - were "on" for my next trip. I arrived at Salisbury station and took a short bus ride to Sarum. Regrettably, it was pouring down with rain at the time.

On returning to modern Salisbury I made for the cathedral. The book contained very many names of those who lived and died in the area and it was of particular interest to see their memorial stones or plaques about the cathedral, making the book seem almost non-fiction.

If you are in the city after dusk, you will see the top of the spire is adorned . . . with a red flashing
aircraft obstruction light! THAT's how tall it is.

Rate this response: [-] 1 2 3 4 5 [+] 

Log in to Respond

Site Search

Our Site Web

Back Issues

Select Issue


Our Guides

Book Online


What is your favourite place to visit in London

Results | Other polls