Exploring in and around Salisbury – A weekend of exploration in and around Salisbury, Wiltshire with so many activities to do and interesting places to see.
Ten Places to Visit in and around Salisbury
I had a fabulous long weekend in Wiltshire recently, you can read all about my foodie adventures here, A Shepherd’s Hut and Fine Food in Wiltshire. But today’s post is a little round-up of ten places that are unmissable when staying in and around Salisbury. Salisbury has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons, and therefore it was a pleasure to visit this beautiful and ancient city in the heart of old Wessex for a much-needed break, and with some many places to visit and things to do, we certainly weren’t bored. I’ve listed some of my top places to visit below, and I hope you enjoy them all as much as we did when we were there a few weeks ago.
Salisbury Cathedral is a truly remarkable building, a testimony to the faith and practical skills of the medieval craftsmen who built it, which I saw at first hand on my Tower Tour, where you wind your way up 332 steps to see the Cathedral’s iconic spire close up, and enjoy breathtaking views. As you ascent the tower, you can see the “bones” of the amazing construction by the medieval carpenters at first hand, with most of the original timbers in place that are over 800 years old.
Home to of the best preserved of only four surviving original 1215 Magna Carta is reason alone to visit I think, as well as boasting the tallest spire in the UK, and the world’s oldest clock. There are many other reasons to visit this beautiful cathedral, all of which can be found here: Visit Salisbury Cathedral. And, if you want to visit to worship, then of course this is the Cathedral’s primordial purpose. Every day, morning and evening, regardless of what else is happening, prayer and worship takes place. Sometimes that offering is made by a handful of people in a side chapel, and sometimes the act of worship fills the building with colour, movement, music and light – but anyone can take part.
This charming and peaceful house is located within Salisbury’s beautiful Cathedral Close and is the former home of Sir Edward Heath, sailor, musician and once Prime Minister of the UK. Sir Edward bequeathed Arundells to the Charitable Foundation set up in his name following his death in 2005. He very much wanted as many people as possible to “share the beauty of Arundells” and to enjoy his diverse and very personal collection of art work, photographs, sailing memorabilia and political cartoons. The house has been a home for canons, archdeacons, a girl’s and latterly a boy’s boarding school, as well as a Red Cross centre during the second world war, before extensive refurbishment works were undertaken by Mr and Mrs Robert Hawkings in 1964.
Inside the house is a veritable treasure trove of beautiful art, paintings, Oriental porcelain,. cartoons and some amazing Oriental wallpaper on the stairs. I was fascinated by Sr Edward’s collection of photos, all framed, of world leaders and royalty which sat on the Grand Piano. It’s well worth a visit if only to see his fabulous collection of paintings and porcelain. The gardens are also very beautiful and are worth a visit when the sun is shining.
This lovely Queen Anne 18th-century townhouse is in the heart of Salisbury’s Cathedral Close, opposite Salisbury Cathedral and a short walk from Arundells. Filled with beautiful antique furniture, it still retains a warm family home feel, and is very welcoming. The hidden and tranquil garden is lovely, and you can stop for a cuppa the Garden Tea Room, as we did, as well as visit the shop. All of the interiors are decorated as they might have been in the 1700’s, except the library which is 1950’s.
The house has some theatrical fame too, as it used as the set for Mrs Jennings’ London townhouse in the 1995 film Sense and Sensibility. All of the show-rooms apart from the small drawing-room and library were used. I loved the collection of English 18th-century drinking glasses in the room. The stumpwork in the green room is a fascinating example of raised embroidery, and adds some real warmth to the property.
We had a wonderful guide who took us around the centre of Salisbury, to the Charter Market, the Guildhall and many other haunts off the beaten track, as well as the Doom Painting in St Thomas’s Church. It’s well worth joining in on one of these tours, as you get to see so much that you may have missed if wandering around on your own. We also went to the old part of Salisbury to some of the artisan food shops there, which is where I bought my Lardy Cake from!
Part of the Wiltshire Creative group, Salisbury Playhouse is a great place to go and see a play after a day out in town. We saw an Alan Bennett play whilst we were there, The Art of Habit, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. They are currently offering a pantomime for Christmas and these plays: What’s On
Stonehenge needs no introduction, as it is world-famous, but to visit it is to walk in the footsteps of your Neolithic ancestors, which is hair-raising stuff. It’s one of the wonders of the world and is the best-known prehistoric monument in Europe. You can explore the ancient landscape on foot and step inside the Neolithic Houses to discover the tools and objects of everyday Neolithic life. You can also visit the world-class exhibition and visitor centre with 250 ancient objects and come face to face with a 5,500 year-old man. It was a fascinating trip and one I’ve not done since my school days!
Here, we climbed the mighty ramparts for views over the Wiltshire plains in the once thriving town of Old Sarum. Old Sarum is where Salisbury’s original cathedral was built – the first cathedral was a modest building damaged by a violent thunderstorm just five days after its consecration in 1092. It was later massively extended by Bishop Roger. Old Sarum was first created around 400BC, the ramparts were later heightened in either the late Iron Age or early Roman period. In 1220 foundations were laid for a new cathedral in Salisbury (New Sarum) and Bishop Roger’s cathedral was demolished. Many of its stones were re-used in the construction of the new building. The outline of both the original and extended cathedrals can be seen today.
*All our accommodation, food and drink as well as activities was paid for. I was not asked to write a favourable review, but I chose to share my experiences as I believe it will help travellers when visiting this part of the UK. With a huge thanks to ALL of the people, places, guides, restaurants, pubs and places that welcomed us so generously, and made us feel at home in this lovely county*