Salisbury Cathedral

April 03, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Salisbury Cathedral

This week took me on a jaunt to Salisbury.  It was my first time to visit and whilst the antique and bric-a-brac shops entertained my better half it was the cathedral that drew my interest.  Salisbury Cathedral has a curious number of interesting facts associated with it, apart from having the tallest spire in the United Kingdom ....

  • The Cathedral was built in just 38 years (AD1220-1258)
  • 60,000 tons of Chilmark Stone and 10,000 tons of Purbeck Stone were used to build the Cathedral
  • 28,000 tons of oak were used to construct the roof
  • 420 tons of lead covering 4 acres were used on the roof
  • Britain's tallest spire (123m/404ft) was built between AD1310-1333 adding another 6,500 tons
  • The spire now leans 69.85cm (27.5ins) to the south and 44.44cm (17.5ins) to the west
  • The best preserved of only four surviving original Magna Carta (AD1215) is on display in the Chapter House
  • Europe's oldest working clock (AD1386), now situated in the north nave aisle, used to be located in the Bell Tower (demolished in 1789). It has "ticked" more than 5 million times since it was first built
  • Salisbury has the largest Cathedral Close in Britain (40 hectares
  • It has Britain's largest Cathedral Cloisters
  • The Quire stalls are the largest and earliest complete set in Britain
  • It is reputed that there are 365 (the number of days in a year) windows and 8760 (the number of hours in a year) marble pillars
  • The Close gates are locked from 10.30pm every night through until 7.00am next morning
  • The first Cathedral School was founded by Bishop Osmund in 1091 at Old Sarum - the original settlement site for Salisbury
  • Salisbury was the first Cathedral to have a girls' choir - founded in 1991 
  • There are 69 statues on the West Front
  • A dead rat which carried traces of arsenic was found inside the skull of William Longespée when his tomb was opened centuries later

 

Salisbury Cathedral Salisbury Cathedral houses one of the 4 exemplar copies of the Magna Carta and is in fact the best preserved of them.Magna Carta (Latin for "Great Charter") is one of the most celebrated documents in English history. At the time it was the solution to a political crisis in Medieval England but its importance has endured as it has become recognised as a cornerstone of liberty influencing much of the civilized world.


A visit to view the best preserved original Magna Carta in the Chapter House is for many visitors the highlight of their time at Salisbury Cathedral.


How did the Magna Carta come about?


The feudal system bound medieval society together in a hierarchy of relationships. Under the feudal system the King was all-powerful. Dispute grew between the barons and bishops and King John over his poor government, heavy war taxes and quarrels with the Pope.


Weakened by his defeat by the French in 1214 and keen to avoid a civil war he feared losing, King John met the barons at Runnymede (between Windsor and Staines in Southern England) on 15 June 1215 and agreed the terms of the document now known as Magna Carta. Its content, driven by the concerns of barons and church, was designed to re-balance power between the King and his subjects. When King John set his seal on Magna Carta he conceded the fundamental principle that even as king he was not above the law.

 

Choir Practice - Salisbury Cathed

I was lucky enough to be meandering through this magnificent building as the Cathedral Choir was practising.  Salisbury Cathedral Choir maintains a tradition of church music that has been offered in the Cathedral since its consecration in 1258

 

Salisbury has been well known for the lead that it has given in liturgy, and music has always played an important part in the Cathedral's worship. In the early days the music in the Cathedral was performed by two groups of musicians, the Vicars Choral and the choristers, either together or separately.

 

In the sixteenth century there first appeared the Lay Vicar, a singing man who was not in Holy Orders and whose duty it was to assist the Vicar Choral with the singing. Today the music is provided by sixteen boy choristers and sixteen girl choristers aged between 8 - 13 years and six Lay Vicars.

 

Salisbury Cathedral is a must visit for anyone who wants to steep in the atmosphere of one of England's great architectural and spiritual treasures.

Photos taken with Lumix G3


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