After arriving in Salisbury on a lovely (but slightly chilled) spring night, we checked into the YHA and settled for a bit. After a meal of 2 minute noodles (my contribution – they were cluttering up my bag and were becoming 2 minute crumbs) Sarah and I headed into the streets of downtown Salisbury, in search of the cathedral, which dominates the landscape. We didn’t find it…
On the morrow however, a short stroll into town and we located the magnificent cathedral, towering over the flat plain on which it stands. This cathedral is an absolute marvel. Maybe because there is nothing around it, and the absence of any buildings around it increases the impact of the building.
Deciding to come back later on in the afternoon to do the recommended Tower Tour, we went on to Old Sarum, the Bronze Age to medieval site of the town. Abandoned in medieval times for the town springing up around the new Cathedral being built on the plain, the castle and cathedral were cannibalised for the stone and left in ruins. It is sites like this that marvel and confuse me greatly. Maybe I’m more used to the Australian way of heaving information at you, and setting up dolls & furniture to ‘recreate’ the scene (anyone seen Ned Kelly’s room in Glenrowan? Complete with Ned’s battle armour…), but I do like the way the English just expect you to use your imagination to recreate what the castle would have been like.
They have little signs, informing you that this is where the King’s privy was etc., actually there was quite a bit about the King’s privy in this castle, Henry I liked his comfort.
I walked along the ramparts for a while, and ran into a lady walking her very disobedient dog. She kept yelling at him, and he kept ignoring her. She told me about a crop circle in the field, visible from the wall, and I found it!
On from Old Sarum we made the interestingly twisty & narrow car trip to Old Wardour castle, a romantic ruin of a castle, notable for it’s hexagonal shape and the setting for Locksley Manor from Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. Poor old Brian Blessed (or Robin’s father) is strung up in a cage and left to rot in this very ruin…
However, the castle is a wonderfully romantic and cultivated place. It is part of a family estate, a new castle was built in the 1700’s, but every estate back then required romantic links to the past, and Wardour had just such a castle. Built in the early medieval time, it was used by a noble for many years until the Civil Wars when is was besieged several times and fell into disrepair.
So, when the estate was purchased in the 1700’s, the owner set about making the grounds a mysterious link to the past, the ruins being a key feature. They also created a lake, and a grotto, using concrete and volcanic rock from the Bath region.
Then back once again to the cathedral, where we took the Tower tour, climbing 332 steps to get as close to the top of it’s magnificent spire as possible. Salisbury is very fond of the spire, it features in a lot of the surrounding shops & pubs.