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 ....
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.
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