Cathedral, Close & Cloisters

England, Salisbury Guide (A): Cathedral, Close & Cloisters

In Notes from a Small Island, American travel writer Bill Bryson wrote,“There is no doubt in my mind that Salisbury Cathedral is the single most beautiful structure in England and the Close around it the most beautiful space.” The architecture is undoubtedly beautiful, but it is also a place rich in history: the world's oldest working clock, the Magna Carta, and Handel's recital room are all to be found within its medieval walls.
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Walk Route

Guide Name: Cathedral, Close & Cloisters
Guide Location: England » Salisbury
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 km
Sight(s) featured in this guide: The High Street Gate   Mompesson House   Arundells   The King's House   Salisbury Cathedral   The Walking Madonna   Bishop Wordsworth School   Malmesbury House   St. Anne's Gate  
Author: Sophie Ibbotson
Author Bio: Sophie Ibbotson is a freelance travel writer and journalist. She grew up in Salisbury and read Oriental Studies at Clare College, Cambridge before taking off to explore the world at large. Sophie travels 8-9 months a year with her partner, Max, and they take photos and write about every place they go. Footage, photos and blogs of their travels are online at http://www.tracingtea.com
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The High Street Gate

1) The High Street Gate

Built in the mid 1300s, the High Street Gate (also known as the Porter's Lodge) is the main point of entry into the Cathedral Close. This medieval building has had many uses: a home to the porters (or watchmen), a lock-up for those caught misbehaving within the Close's walls, and even a tiny Roman Catholic chapel. This gate, and the two others which allow pedestrians and cars in to the Cathedral Close, close each night at 11 pm and don't re-open again until 6 am, which ensures...
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Mompesson House

2) Mompesson House

Mompesson House is owned by the National Trust, a charitable organisation that protects important historical buildings, such as country houses, and sights of natural beauty within the United Kingdom. Mompesson House dates from the late 17th century when Sir Thomas Mompesson, Member of Parliament for Salisbury, acquired the site and built himself a home in the popular style of the period. The house, which has largely been restored to its former glory, has become famous as one of the settings for...
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Arundells

3) Arundells

Arundells is best known as the home of the former British Prime Minister, Sir Edward Heath, who lived here until his death in 2005. He was the leader of the Conservative party and the predecessor to Margaret Thatcher. There has been a house on this site since at least 1291, and restorations and improvements were undertaken in the early 1600s and 1700s. An engraving was made of the house in 1745 by the English artist J. Lyons, and since it was made very little has changed in the appearance of...
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The King's House

4) The King's House

The King's House is not only an attractive architectural site but it is also home to the important historical and archaeological collections of Salisbury Museum. It is one of the oldest buildings in the close as it was built to house Herman, the first Bishop of Salisbury, when he moved to the city from Sherborne in 1075 AD. The House has been known as the Kings House since 1610 when its owner, Sir Thomas Saddler, hosted James I here on his visit to Salisbury. The building has been used...
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Salisbury Cathedral

5) Salisbury Cathedral

Pilgrims have made their way to Salisbury Cathedral for well over 750 years. The cathedral has the tallest spire in England - 123 metres - and also the largest cloisters. The contents of the Cathedral are almost impressive as the building itself. The Cathedral clock, now housed inside the building, dates from about 1386 and is the oldest working clock in the world. Exhibited in the Chapterhouse, meanwhile, is the best-preserved copy of the Magna Carta, the 13th century declaration of the rights...
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The Walking Madonna

6) The Walking Madonna

The Walking Madonna is a bronze sculpture made by the English sculptor and print maker Elisabeth Frink. Three other copies of this statue were made, one of which stands in the grounds of the Chatsworth stately home in Derbyshire. Frink studied at the Chelsea School of Art between 1949 and 1953, and she was part of the group of post-war British sculptors known as the 'Geometry of Fear School'. Elisabeth Frink worked in a variety of mediums (including print making) but is best known for...
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Bishop Wordsworth School

7) Bishop Wordsworth School

Bishop Wordsworth School (BWS) was founded by John Wordsworth, Bishop of Salisbury, in 1889, and during that first year the boys were taught in rooms in the Bishop's Palace. The Bishop himself later donated the £3000 for the current site and buildings. A blue plaque on the outside wall celebrates the school's association with William Golding, a master who went on to write 'Lord of the Flies' and win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Approximately 800 boys are educated at the...
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Malmesbury House

8) Malmesbury House

Malmesbury House was a 13th century canonry, which was enlarged a hundred years later and then given its current facade by the renowned architect Sir Christopher Wren in the late 1600s. Christopher Wren is most famous for designing St. Paul's Cathedral, Hampton Court, and the Wren Library at Trinity College in Cambridge. Charles II stayed here at Malmesbury House for a while after returning from exile in Holland in the wake of the English Civil War, as did the composer Handel when he first...
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St. Anne's Gate

9) St. Anne's Gate

St. Anne's Gate is one of the three gates out of the Cathedral Close. It is stone built and accessible only by pedestrians. The room above the gateway was originally the chapel of the Vicars Choral, a guild that lived communally nearby, but by the 17th century it had become the private music room of the Harris family. This is where Handel gave his recitals when he visited...