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Salisbury - Things to Do and See, Practical Tips

Pauline Kenny

We spent a week in Salisbury in May 2005. These are some of my notes.

Salisbury is a beautiful Cathedral town, with a lively downtown. They have markets during the week on the Market Square. There are lots of shops and restaurants in the downtown area. There are also several parks and walking trails to the countryside.

Tourist Office

The Tourist Office is just off the Market Square on Fish Row. You can purchase the detailed Visitor's Guide for £1.00. This has a detailed list of accommodations, restaurants, sights, and shops. They can also give you a local map showing walking routes in town and in the surrounding countryside.

Old Sarum

You can walk from the center of Salisbury, north along the River Avon, to Old Sarum (get a walking map from the tourist office). This is an English Heritage site (admission £3.00 per person).

We walked north along the River Avon for about an hour to Stratford Sub Avon and then up to Old Sarum, the original Roman and Medieval settlement of Salisbury. The path along the river was flat and you are out in the countryside after about 15 minutes walking. There were lots of people and dogs out, even a couple of kids swimming in the river.

Old Sarum is an English Heritage site, so you pay to get in and we had to pay more than usual because it was a special events day (£5.50 per person). The special event was a demonstration of combat by knights on horses and a few other "life" demonstrations - not too interesting. The location of Old Sarum is its best feature; it is on top of a hill overlooking Salisbury.

The original Salisbury Cathedral, built in the 1000s, is at Old Sarum (not much remains) and you can stand there are look down at the "new" cathedral, built in the 1200s. There is not much left of the buildings at Old Sarum, but you can walk around a few of the remains and the original ditch, a moat surrounding the castle, is clearly visible.

Salisbury Cathedral

Carving in choir stall, Salisbury Cathedral, May 2005

Admission is £4.00 per person (donation). Open daily from 7:15am to 6:15pm, later in July and August. They have a nice gift shop and restaurant. Photography permitted, except in Chapter House and during services.

The Salisbury Cathedral was originally located on Old Sarum (built in the 1000s), but was built in the current location from 1220 to 1258. The spire was built a generation later and is the tallest in England. The Cathedral is massive. You can see the spire from miles away. The Cathedral is surrounded by large lawns and trees. This gives the Cathedral the space that is needed to see it. The outside is covered in many stone carvings. Inside it seems very long and narrow, with very high ceilings.

The Cathedral has old tombs; a crusader from the 1200s, the Mompesson Tomb - Sir Richard and wife Katherine, died in the 1600s. The choir stalls have 13th century woodwork with beautiful carvings of angels and animals. They also have a special type of seat, called a "misericord", which allows someone to look as if they are standing, but they are really leaning back on a small seat. These pull down to be the regular seats.

Just as impressive as the Cathedral is the Chapter House, built in the late 1200s. It is a round chapel and has a row of stone carvings around the chapel at about 15 feet high, below the windows. There are over 50 carvings showing Bible stories from Genesis and some from Exodus. There is a person in the room who can answer your questions and she gave us a list to use to look at these carvings, so we were able to walk around the room and look at each carving in order to "read" the stories.

The Cloisters, just outside the Chapter House, are hauntingly beautiful. These were also built in the 1200s and enclose a small graveyard.

Services

Choral Evensong is at 5:30pm Monday to Saturday, 3:00pm Sunday. We went to a Friday night service which was one hour long. You do not have to pay to attend Evensong.

Salisbury Cathedral, May 2005

Salisbury Cathedral, May 2005

Supermarkets

Salisbury has Tesco and Sainsbury in the town center: Tesco on the Southhampton Road, just off Market Square; Sainsbury across the river from the Tesco, in the Maltings. Waitrose is on the Ring Road (Churchill Way), north of the city, 15 minutes walk up the River Avon from the town center.

Sainsbury's and Waitrose are open Monday - Saturday 8:00am - 8:00pm, Sunday and Bank Holidays 10:00am - 4:00pm. Tesco opens earlier and stays open later Monday to Saturday. Same for Sunday and Bank Holidays.

Other Shops

Marks and Spencer and Debenhams are in the town center (Debenhams on the Market Square, M&S on New Canal a block from Market Square).

Neal's Yard Remedies, 27 Market Place (near the library), open Monday to Saturday 9:00am - 5:30pm.

There is a natural foods store on the Market Square.

Day Trips

Stonehenge (English Heritage). About 15 minutes drive north; you can also get a bus from Salisbury. £5.50 admission fee.

Winchester is about 30 minutes drive and has several things to see: Winchester Cathedral, built in 1000's, with Jane Austen's grave (£4.00 per person donation admission fee); the legendary round table from the 13th century (in the Great Hall).

Jane Austen Museum in Chawton, near Alton, north east of Winchester (40 minutes drive from Salisbury). £4.50 admission fee.

Transportation

If you are flying into Heathrow or Gatwick, Salisbury makes a good first destination instead of going into London. In May 2005, a car service from Heathrow to Salisbury was £75 and the drive was less than 90 minutes.

Car Service/Taxi Companies

www.salisbury-valuecars.co.uk: Salisbury & District Value Cars, taxis, tours, airport transfer, tel:+44-(0)1722-505050. We used a driver from this company to pick us up at the airport in May 2005. The driver was waiting for us at the arrivals area.

www.andytaxis.co.uk: Andy Taxi Limited, local taxi, airport transfer, tel: +44-(0)7885-102114

Public Transportation

www.wdbus.co.uk: Wilts & Dorset Bus Company, public buses in the Wiltshire and Dorset area. You can take this bus to Avebury, Stonehenge, Bath, etc. Day passes (explorer tickets) are available.

Resources

Slow Travel Photos: Our week in Salisbury, Salisbury Cathedral, town, St. Thomas, walk to Sarum

Pauline's Pages - England 2005 Trip Report: We spent a week in Salisbury, May 2005

www.visitsalisbury.com: Official Tourist Information website for Salisbury. Their office in Salisbury is just off the Market Square on Fish Row. You can purchase the detailed Visitor's Guide for £1.00. This had a detailed list of accommodations, restaurants, sights, and shops.

www.salisburycathedral.org.uk: Salisbury Cathedral.

www.english-heritage.org.uk/stonehenge: Stonehenge.

www.english-heritage.org.uk/oldsarum/: Old Sarum, near Salisbury.

www.jane-austens-house-museum.org.uk: Jane Austen house in Chawton, Alton, Hampshire (near Winchester).

www.visitwinchester.co.uk: Official Tourist Information website for Winchester.

Supermarkets

www.waitrose.com: Waitrose supermarkets

www.waitrose.com/about/findyourlocalwaitrose.asp: Waitrose store locator

www.marksandspencer.com: Marks and Spencer (click Store Finder at the bottom of the page)

www.tesco.com: Tesco supermarkets

www.tesco.com/storelocator/: Tesco store locator

www.sainsbury.co.uk: Sainsbury's supermarkets

www.sainsbury.co.uk/storelocator/: Sainsbury's store locator

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