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Salisbury

Few cities in the UK have the kind of heritage grace and architectural beauty of Salisbury. Originating with an Iron Age hill fortress, Salisbury quickly developed into a key metropolis of the Middle Ages, earning its first cathedral by 1092. There was a shift from the old city (called ‘Old Sarum’) to a new city (‘New Sarum’) which was designed according to a grid design in 1220, very much against the grain of the more circular patterns of civic planning at that time.

The two most remarkable things about Salisbury Cathedral are its mechanical clock that dates back to the 1380s and the fact that it holds several tattered but complete copies of the Magna Carta – a key legal document in the evolution of English law. The Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum is not only a highly informative repository of intriguing exhibits but is housed in a charming 13th century listed building. Also very much steeped in tradition is the St George’s Day Pageant which is a jamboree of great fun activities celebrating the English national day. The Annual International Arts Festival has been going on since 1973 and takes place during the early part of the summer.

Queen Elizabeth Gardens is a typically green and willow-lined bucolic space blessed by intriguing ‘water-meadows’ fed by weirs. These are nonetheless prone to flooding in the winter months. If you steer clear of the marshy areas you can have a great time with a picnic, a kite or a football. The Gardens are a product of the distinctively chalky basis of the local geology.

Since 1227 a major market has been held in the city centre – it remains a significant meeting place.

The Salisbury Playhouse is a much-loved theatrical venue putting on both local and national plays in a wonderfully handsome nineteenth century building. Indeed almost every building in the city is possessed of real beauty, even the sorts of shops and restaurants that you would think would normally occupy functional premises. North of Salisbury city is Salisbury Plain where the British Army carry out all manner of manoeuvres and training activities – don’t get stuck there!

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