An Afternoon at Salisbury Cathedral
I am fortunate enough to be from the UK, a land of amazing countryside, fascinating history, an abundance of castles, cathedrals and churches and many other amazing buildings that are actually older than some countries are. But like most people, I completely suck at exploring my own country.
Sure I’ve climbed the Eiffel Tower, seen the New Years Eve fireworks in Sydney and swam in waterfalls in Croatia, as well as many other things that many people consider ‘must have’ travel experiences. But have I been to the north of England? No. What about to the British Museum? Nope. How about the UK’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis? Nope again.
I know right?
But sometimes I do try to change that. So last summer JS and I decided to spend an afternoon exploring Salisbury Cathedral which is only a short 30 minute train ride from where my family live in Southampton.
Amazingly enough for England, we had a glorious sunny day in which to explore and decided to begin by going for a wander around the outside of the cathedral to admire some of the incredible architecture.
The foundation stone of Salisbury Cathedral was laid on 28 April 1220 making it almost 800 years old. 800 YEARS. So old, very cool. Since the late Sixteenth Century, it has also had the tallest spire in England, standing at 404 ft/123m. Again, very cool. Need more coolness? There are only FOUR remaining copies of the original 1215 Magna Carta (only one of England’s most celebrated historical documents…) and the best preserved one is actually on display at the cathedral. Very cool! Sorry – history geek kicked in there…
The history of this place is pretty incredible when you stop to think about it. I mean, anything that has survived 800 years is amazing and to see it still in such great condition really makes the historian inside of me very happy.
Whilst at the cathedral we decided that we fancied taking a Tower Tour to give us an even greater understanding of the history behind this amazing building. This meant that we would be going up that really tall spire! And would get to see all of the amazing architecture inside the roof of the cathedral too. You can of course just pay a small donation to enter the cathedral and have a gander from the ground floor as well.
The nice thing about doing the tour is that only tour groups are allowed up to this level of the cathedral so it’s not overly crowded with people which I think is really important for the preservation of places like this. I’m always more than happy to donate to historical places in the hope that they will survive for hundreds more years to come.
The tour itself is actually really interesting. You get a bit of history about the stained glass windows in the cathedral (more interesting than it sounds, promise!), information about how those really impressive arches are built to maintain the heavy weight of the rest of the cathedral and information about the numerous restoration projects over the years. I don’t think you even particularly need to enjoy history or architecture to find this tour interesting, particularly not if you love a good view.
I don’t have many photos of the tour as much of it was walking along small and narrow corridors or climbing rickety stairs that just kept going round and round forever. But it is worth it, definitely! Maybe not if you don’t like heights or get a bit claustrophobic though – some of those staircases are really small and really high…
But you do get some picturesque views of Salisbury and the surrounding countryside from the cathedral spire as a reward!
After the tour we decided to explore a little bit more of the inside of the cathedral before catching our train back to Southampton. But of course, we had to take some touristy photos outside whilst the sun was still shining too.
All in all, this was definitely a quick trip worth taking in my opinion. Not only did I satisfy that historian in me but I also managed to explore a tiny bit more of my own country too. One step at a time I guess!
Pin this post to remind yourself to visit on your next trip!
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The Tower Tour is offered by experienced Salisbury Cathedral staff and should be booked online to avoid disappointment. We got lucky and bought our tickets on the day but we’d hate for you to miss out!