Salisbury, England - Table of Contents ...........................Architecture Around the World

John Constable's Paintings of Salisbury Cathedral, England
Click on illustrations for larger size

Salisbury Cathedral From the Meadows
The National Gallery, London

Salisbury Cathedral From the Bishop's Grounds
Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Salisbury Cathedral and Leadenhall From the River Avon
The National Gallery, London

Salisbury Cathedral
By the Very Reverend Hugh Dickinson

It was on a rough field called St. Mary's Mead in 1220 AD that Bishop Richard Poore and his brilliant architect Elias de Derham decided to build a new state-of-the-art Gothic style Cathedral to replace the old Norman Cathedral at Old Sarum.

Because they take so many generations to build, almost all other English Cathedrals are a mixture of different architectural styles. However the main body of Salisbury Cathedral which includes the tower and West Front, was completed in a mere 38 years.

The huge Cloister (the largest in England) and the magnificent Chapter House (containing the Magna Carta) were added later. But then the 14th century the most daring and astonishing addition was made. The tower was raised and on top of it they built the slender soaring spire which we see today, completing the Cathedral 95 years after Elias first started the work.

Considering that at 404 feet (123 metres) Salisbury Cathedral's spire is the tallest medieval structure in the world it is amazing that it is still standing with foundations only four feet deep. Thankfully nature was on Elias's side and the thick bed of gravel that lies beneath the Cathedral supports the building's immense weight.

Once the building was finished the Bishop recruited priests, canons, and clerks to serve it. These church workers were given an acre and a half of land with the more senior clergy being given three acres around the perimeter of The Close. The Bishop built himself a great palace, which now houses the Cathedral School. Today only four members of the Chapter are resident in The Close and other properties are mainly leased from the Cathedral by private residents.

Page by Chuck LaChiusa in 2008
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