Salisbury Cathedral – What To Expect
Salisbury is approximately 80 miles south west of London and an easy day trip from London whether independently or by tour bus. Visitor numbers are swelled through the fact that Salisbury is the nearest major town to Stonehenge. If you visit independently Salisbury will be your gateway town with a Stonehenge bus departing at least hourly. There are fast, frequent trains from London, normally 2 an hour and Salisbury has direct rail links with Bath, Southampton and Portsmouth. Its also popular with those arriving or departing by cruise ship from Southampton, 30 minutes away.
Salisbury Cathedral is a fine English Cathedral and unless you are suffering from culture or cathedral overload for most people a good investment in their time.
The city of Salisbury grew up in the 12th century around the Cathedral. The city had its hey day in medieval times on the back of the wool trade and agriculture. As a result you will find many interesting wooden buildings in the city centre from around the 13th-15th Century and atmospheric alleys, still part of the shopping area.
The main draw, Salisbury Cathedral sits within a walled religious area called Salisbury Close which you walk into from the city centre. As well as the Cathedral there is a college and large houses originally built for priests. Some of these houses have been converted into museums, the two main ones on the military and archeology reflect the area containing a lot of military stations and Stonehenge and ancient remains.
The average coach party will just visit the Cathedral in a visit of around 75 minutes before proceeding to Stonehenge.
If you have time and are reasonably fit the tower tours are recommended. The Cathedral is staffed by volunteers and technically you do not pay an admission charge but make a donation to enter. The Cathedral Volunteers really are excellent so do tag onto one of their free tours of the Cathedral if you can.
The Cathedral is a working Cathedral, not a museum piece – Sunday is not the greatest day to visit and do check the web site so you can either avoid events or time them to co-incide with things like evensong.
Especially for US people seeing a copy of the Magna Carta will be a grand ending to your visit.
For the independent visitor its well worth lingering. Combining Salisbury Cathedral with Stonehenge and Old Sarum (Old Salisbury) is a very fulfilling and interesting day out made easy by the Stonehenge Tour Bus and the railway links.
The clip below gives you the basics of what to expect on a visit to Salisbury Cathedral