Historical Houses Tour (Self Guided), Salisbury

Founded more than 800 years ago, Salisbury understandably has a great number of historical, architectural and cultural gems worthy of a visit. The medieval houses, churches, inns and hospitals blend harmoniously with the modern sites of the city. Trace the threads of Salisbury's past on this tour of the city's historic buildings.
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Historical Houses Tour Map

Guide Name: Historical Houses Tour
Guide Location: England » Salisbury (See other walking tours in Salisbury)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
Author: Sandra
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Salisbury Tourist Information Center
  • John a' Port's House & William Russel’s House
  • Hall of John Halle (Odeon Cinema)
  • Best Western Red Lion Hotel
  • Trinity Hospital
  • Mompesson House
  • Old George Inn & Mall
  • Church House
  • The Bishop’s Mill
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Salisbury Tourist Information Center

1) Salisbury Tourist Information Center

The Salisbury Tourist Information Center occupies one of the medieval houses on Fish Row. It is located behind the honorable Guildhall in the Market Place. The building was one of many on the east side of the Market Place that housed fishmonger shops in the 14th century. It is a two–story stone structure with arched openings on the first story and tall rectangular windows on the second story.
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John a' Port's House & William Russel’s House

2) John a' Port's House & William Russel’s House

John a’Port’s House and William Russel’s House, located in the Market Place next to Guildhall, are regarded as the oldest buildings in Salisbury. They are twinned timber-framed buildings with pointed roofs. John a’Port’s Hous was constructed in 1425 by Salisbury's mayor John a’Port. William Russel’s house was built in 1306 but appears newer because of its false facade. Both houses have remarkable interiors with dark beams, fireplaces, chiseled stairs and Elizabethan paneling. The buildings were refurbished in 1930, and they now house Watsons and a specialty china shop.
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Hall of John Halle (Odeon Cinema)

3) Hall of John Halle (Odeon Cinema) (must see)

John Halle, a merchant and mayor of Salisbury, was the first owner of this house, which was built in 1470. The building, which now serves as the Odeon Cinema, is quite out of the ordinary. Its facade and foyer were designed in the Tudor style and date back to the 15th century. Its medieval interior has a fireplace with John Halle’s coat of arms, leaded windows, tall arched ceilings and walls decorated with pikes and armor. Even though the building now is home to a modern cinema, it has maintained its medieval charm.
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Best Western Red Lion Hotel

4) Best Western Red Lion Hotel

Best Western Red Lion Hotel dates back to 1220 AD and is said to be the oldest hotel in Britain. Its creeper-clad courtyard and pleasant 18th-century facade reinforce the history and charm of the place. The hotel has a Victorian lounge, medieval-style bar, 51 rooms and 6 conference halls. Red Lion Hotel is a great place to stay the night and is a fabulous venue for celebrating special occasions as well.
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Trinity Hospital

5) Trinity Hospital

Trinity Hospital was established in the 1380s and is devoted to the Holy Trinity. It was built on the site of a former brothel. The hospital started as a charitable facility for poor citizens and strangers, and it also provided food and shelter for the elderly. The current building on the site was constructed in 1702 and was remodeled at the start of the 21st century. Trinity Hospital continues to serve as an almshouse.
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Mompesson House

6) Mompesson House (must see)

Mompesson House is an elegant Queen Anne-style house, which was built in 1701 for the Mompessons, a prominent merchant family. Today it is under the protection of the National Trust. Its spacious interior features a carved timber staircase, original paneling and fine plasterwork. The apartments are furnished in period style. Mompesson House displays Captain Turnbull's collection of 18th-century drinking glasses. There is a charming walled garden adjacent to the house.
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Old George Inn & Mall

7) Old George Inn & Mall

Old George Inn, built in 1361, was one of city’s oldest inns. Only part of the original Old George remains, but it now has Grade 1 Listed Building in England status. Inside is a wonderful banqueting hall with wooden panels, bunched pillars, oak timbers and a large stone fireplace. Roughly carved heads of Edward II and Queen Isabella are above the pillars. The inn has kept its steep 18th-century staircase, rough floors, Tudor plasterwork decorations and remarkable bay window.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Old George Inn is its impressive guest list. The diarist Samuel Pepys stayed here for one night and when he saw the bill, he became infuriated and had a row with the landlady and moved to a cheaper inn the next morning. In 1645 Oliver Cromwell spent a night at Old George on his way to joining the army. The inn also appeared in Charles's Dickens's novel "Martin Chuzzlewit".

Some 37 years before Oliver Cromwell came, William Shakespeare and his strolling players stayed at the inn en route to Wilton, it is said they rehearsed “As You Like It” in the garden of the inn where Old George Mall now stands.
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Church House

8) Church House

This scenic stone house was built by merchant W. Lightfoot in the 15th century. Since 1628 the house served as Salisbury’s workhouse. Later several houses on Crane Street, Nos. 95, 97 and 99, were used as the diocesan Church House. Because of their importance as the city’s Diocesan Office, these houses on Crane Street were completely renovated in 1887 by Weymouth architect George Crickmay.
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The Bishop’s Mill

9) The Bishop’s Mill

The Bishop’s Mill, also called the Mill, sits on the riverside next to Bridge Street in the Maltings shopping area. The mill was once owned by the Bishop of Old Sarum and was built in the 17th century. Bishop Richard Poore, one of the city's founders, helped restore the building in the 18th century. It is a two gabled building made of pebble and flint stone. Today it houses a modern style bar and a restaurant. Its riverside setting provides a spectacular view.

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