The medieval cathedrals of England are known for their individualistic styles. Built and re-built over multiple centuries, the architectural style changed over time and the result has been that the cathedrals now reflect various building styles of many different periods. Salisbury Cathedral is the exception.

The foundation stone was laid on 28 April 1220 and it took only 38 years to complete the main body of the cathedral, as well as the Cloisters, the Chapter House, and the (now demolished) detached Bell Tower. The spire was added in 1300-1320, when spires became fashionable and unlike many spires of the era which has collapsed, it still remains. In the 16th century, it became the tallest spire in England standing at 123m/404 ft.

Product Information

Retailer: Salisbury Cathedral

Price: Donation of £7.50 (adult), £3 (Children 3+), £4.50 (Students 16+), £6.50 (Seniors), £15 family (2+3).
Paid extras: Tour: tours cost £12.50 for adults, £8.00 for children and £30.00 family (2 adults + 3 children). Only 12 people per tour lasting about 90 minutes, on-line booking recommended. Children must be at least 120cm (4ft) tall and 7 years old to take the tour.

About Salisbury Cathedral

The governance of the Cathedral is regulated by Statute, as required by the Cathedrals Measure 1999. The corporate body of Salisbury Cathedral is the Chapter, the College of Canons and the Cathedral Council.

Design

Salisbury Cathedral’s primary function remains as a church with daily services. It is famous for its church music, choirs in particular and its organ was built in 1877 by Henry Willis & Sons. It is home to the oldest working clock in Europe as well as the world’s best preserved original Magna Carta 1215. Read more about the Cathedrals’ History here.

Cathedral events, including art exhibitions, workshops, concerts and recitals take place regularly and we would highly recommend to coincide your visit with one of these – the Cathedral Calendar is available on-line here.

Features

  • Target age: All ages
  • Target Gender: Gender neutral design (segregated toilet facilities)
  • Accessibility: Good accessibility, details here.

Environment & People

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Cost-Effective

The donation asked on entry is good value for money. All donations are used for maintenance of the cathedral, including funding for its choir and church music.

Specification

Travel season: Open year round, 365 days of the year
Location: 6 The Close, Salisbury SP1 2EJ
Secure on-line booking: Available for tower tour bookings.
Opening: Around 9am on most days.
Closing: Around 5 pm on most days.
Opening hours: Be aware that opening may be restricted to specific parts or access restricted with short notice. It is primarily a church and religious ceremonies, including funerals are still held regularly. Full visiting times listed here.
Map: PDF map can be found here and a floorplan marking key points of interest here.
Public transport access: Excellent
Nearby: Mottisfont Abbey (NT), Old Sarum, Stonehenge.

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Verdict

Salisbury cathedral is a unique architectural achievement with a rich history spanning almost 800 years. It is a worth a visit not only to view it, but to experience the community it has kept alive for centuries. The recommended length of time for a visit is about 90 minutes.

We easily spent that much time, as well as stopping in for a free 45 minutes art workshop for families and taking some extra time to enjoy the art exhibition on display during our visit. It was around 3 hours later that we left and we had not taken a tower tour, explored the close or the external aspects of the cathedral.

It is an educational visit and I would highly recommend reading through the history either beforehand or on arrival, following the free tour throughout and taking some time to learn about and understand its history from inception to its flourishing in modern life. It’s a great place to stop in when visiting Salisbury, or combine it with a visit to Stonehenge for a historical day out.

Highly recommended.

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This travel review is based on a visit to Salisbury Cathedral in September 2016. This article was first published on 29 October 2016.