November 14, 2016

Salisbury, Medieval and Modern

By the end of the day our Corners of Cornwall tour with Back-Roads Touring would be over. But before we returned to London, we would also visit one of England’s great cathedrals in the city of Salisbury. As we drove through the Dorset countryside enroute to Salisbury, a unique landform appeared along the coastline. Was this what those curious cows were looking at?

Chesil Bank, Dorset 

This is Chesil Bank, a shingle (or pebble) beach extending eighteen miles along England's Jurassic Coast. The body of salt water between the beach and the coastline is the Fleet Lagoon (from the Saxon word fleot, which means 'shallow water'. We made a small detour to Abbotsbury Beach for a closer look and I've never seen anything like it.

Abbotsbury Beach

Author John Fowles described Chesil Bank as “an elemental place, made of sea, shingle and sky”.

Chesil Bank

Back on the road again, we caught up to a pair of Morgan three-wheeler cars.

Morgan Three-Wheeler Cars

The last destination on our itinerary was Salisbury, located eight miles from Stonehenge on the edge of Wiltshire’s Salisbury Plain. (We had driven past Stonehenge a week earlier on our way down to Cornwall.)

Salisbury Cathedral

The Largest Medieval Cloisters in England

Medieval Salisbury Cathedral has Britain’s tallest church spire and the world’s oldest working mechanical clock. Dating from 1386, the clock was originally housed in a bell tower and designed to strike the hour so it has no face.

Britain's Tallest Church Spire

World's Oldest Working Mechanical Clock (1386)

Prisoners of Conscience Window (1980)

Mompesson Tomb

Chapel of Saint Michael the Archangel

The cathedral’s most prized possession is displayed in the Chapter House: the best preserved of the four surviving original copies of Magna Carta. This legal document issued by King John in 1215 asserted that the king was not above the law and inspired the United Nation's Declaration of Human Rights as well as many democratic constitutions. The document was written by a scribe in Latin with a quill pen on parchment. (Photographs of the document are not allowed.)

Magna Carta (1215) in the Chapter House

At the time of our visit the cathedral was hosting Reflection, an exhibition of modern glass works by nine internationally known artists.

Incandescent, by Amy Cushing (2016)

Salisbury Cathedral's Baptismal Font, by William Pye (2008)

Devotion, by Louis Thompson (2016)

Sailed on a River of Crystal Light into a Sea of Dew,
by Louis Thompson (2016)

For lunch we left the Cathedral Close and walked to Café Rouge for a little taste of Paris on nearby High Street. The filling Croque-Monsieur (the French version of a grilled ham and cheese sandwich) went well with a Belgian abbey-style beer, Leffe Blonde Ale.

High Street Gate (1327)

Salisbury's High Street


Once lunch was over, so was the tour but our trip to England was only getting started. We’d be on our own for the next ten days to explore much more of London, including a Downton Abbey day tour and the new West End theatre production, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.


  1. Thank you for sharing your trip and telling us who you travelled with. This definitely looks like a tour I would be interested in taking.

    1. It was a great tour - I highly recommend it!


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