Archive for February 27, 2020

Salisbury

Posted: February 27, 2020 in History, UK, Wiltshire
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The city of Salisbury in Wiltshire is one of the latest in the UK to be founded. The original settlement of Old Sarum was 3 miles to the north and had been occupied since c 600 BC. The Normans built a new castle and a cathedral on this site, completed in 1092.

Salisbury seen from the site of Old Sarum.
Photo by Edward Nicholl (https://www.flickr.com/photos/grey-panther/)

There are a number of stories as to why the settlement moved. One says that the castle and its settlement fell into disrepair following the civil war in the late 12th century. Another says that the Bishop and monks wanted to get away from living in the settlement, which was really just an expanded castle and where the military forces held command. There is also a legend that an archer fired an arrow from Old Sarum and the cathedral was built where it landed, but as this is 3 miles this seems unlikely. A variant of this legend suggests that the arrow hit a deer and that this then ran 3 miles before falling down dead.

Bishop Richard Poore set about building a new cathedral on land he owned in the valley of the River Avon, south of Old Sarum. At first, it was called New Sarum, but eventually became known as Salisburies, after the land on which it was built. Work began in 1221 and was completed in 1259. King Henry III had given the new city a charter in 1227 and by the 14th century, it was the largest settlement in Wiltshire.

In 1450, riots over the decline of the cloth trade resulted in the murder of Bishop Ayscough. In 1483 Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham revolted against King Richard III and was eventually executed at Salisbury. In 1665, Charles II, having left London because of the Great Plague, held his court at Salisbury Cathedral. In 1688, James II mustered his army at Salisbury to counter the Glorious Revolution led by William of Orange, later William III. But after 7 days and a number of defections he retreated to London, before eventually fleeing the country.

Salisbury remains a delightful medieval city and a lovely place to visit with many medieval buildings still in use.