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Painter’s 1831 work completed after his wife’s death is centrepiece of new exhibition at Salisbury Museum.
After 185 years, the trees around Salisbury Cathedral have grown taller and thicker, shrouding all but the magnificent tower and spire. But, remarkably, the water meadows are still as lush and unspoilt as they were in John Constable’s day.
This is the view, including the shallow stream that draws the eye toward the magnificent cathedral, painted by the acclaimed British artist in one of his most important and best-known works, Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows. And for the next six months, there is a rare opportunity to compare masterpiece and present-day view within a few minutes’ walk.
The painting, finished in 1831, is going home to the city for which Constable had a special affection, as part of a five-year tour, taking in Wales, Scotland and East Anglia. From Saturday, people will be able to see it at the Salisbury Museum in the cathedral close, alongside dozens of other paintings, watercolours, etchings and drawings of one of the country’s most awe-inspiring buildings.
“We are very excited that we’re displaying Constable’s masterpiece in the city that inspired him,” said Adrian Green, the museum’s director. “The museum is located opposite the cathedral, backs onto the water meadows and is adjacent to where Constable stayed in the close – so one can literally walk out into the canvas and see a landscape that has changed little since Constable’s time.”
Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows is one of a series of 6ft canvases painted by Constable. Encouraged by his close friend and archdeacon John Fisher, who lived in the cathedral close, he began to make sketches for the painting while grieving for his late wife Maria.
“Constable drew Salisbury Cathedral many times from different viewpoints,” said Gracie Divall of the Tate, which owns the painting and organised its tour around the UK. “It was the place he visited most outside his home in Suffolk. But this painting is seen as one he poured his emotion into, rather than just depicting what he saw in front of him.”
The turbulent sky provoked much comment when the painting was first exhibited; one Morning Herald reporter remarked that “the sky is in a state of utter derangement”.
Meteorologists have pointed out that the rainbow depicted in the painting would be impossible given the cloud formations. However the Tate has commissioned new meteorological research, to be published this year, which suggested that a rainbow over the cathedral was not beyond the realms of possibility.
“Constable was using the weather to tell a story,” said Divall. Some have interpreted the storm clouds as a reflection of the painter’s turmoil at his wife’s death; others suggest they reflect the storms surrounding the Anglican church – in which Constable was an ardent supporter of tradition against reform – at that time.
The painting was bought by the aristocratic Ashton family in 1850 but was on loan to the National Gallery for many years. When the family decided to sell a few years ago, the National Gallery was already committed to buying works by Titian in the most expensive purchase in its history.
The Tate stepped in, raising £23.1m to buy the Constable, described by the gallery’s director, Nicholas Serota, as “one of the great masterpieces of British art”.
A delicate cleaning process in 2013 “made a huge difference to the vibrancy of the work”, said Divall. “There was a lot of staining, mostly nicotine, from when it was in private ownership and from when people were allowed to smoke in galleries. The painting wasn’t glazed.” The cleaning process had revealed details such as a cow in the bottom left of the painting, she added.
The painting has returned to Salisbury once before, in 2011, when it attracted about 36,000 visitors. The new exhibition runs until 25 March.
Article extracted from The Guardian
Salisbury Museum, home of the Wessex Gallery of Archaeology, is hosting a new Festival of Archaeology during the weekend of 18/19 July 2015.
The grand opening of the new Wessex Gallery attracted 2,241 visitors in the space of 6 hours on the 12th July last year. The
gallery is beautifully designed to display many important finds from the Stonehenge World Heritage sites and England’s “Valley of the Kings”.
Alex Langlands, archaeologist and presenter of BBC TV’s Wartime Farm said, “With Stonehenge, Avebury, Old Sarum and the cathedral at Salisbury, there are few counties in the south of England that boast a better line up of archaeological sites. However, as an archaeologist, the real jewel in the crown for me is the Salisbury Museum.
“Following enthusiastic responses to the Wessex Gallery from both public and press, the museum has planned this larger Festival, fuelled by a passionate ambition to inspire further public engagement in archaeology. The Wessex Gallery, led by energetic museum Director Adrian Green, has set its sites to become a major international resource at the centre of England’s ancient archaeological heartland.
“The Festival falls within the ‘Digging Season’ and before the schools summer holidays. The weekend will include presentations and lectures, set against a big showground event. Leading figures in the British archaeology community will be present to debate, make presentations and engage with the public.
“Tucked away in the cathedral close, the Salisbury Museum is an absolute treasure trove of archaeological goodies. In particular, the Wessex Gallery is a hugely impressive exhibition that will have any visitor beguiled. I’m really looking forward to the Festival weekend that the museum is hosting.”
Full article in the Blackmore Vale
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SALISBURY has been announced as one of the top cities to visit in the world by the guidebook Lonely Planet in its latest edition – Best in Travel 2015.
Salisbury features seventh on the city list, above Vienna and Toronto, whilst Washington DC takes top spot.
VisitWiltshire’s CEO David Andrews said: “We are delighted Lonely Planet has recognised Salisbury as one of the Top 10 Cities in the World to visit.
“We are extremely proud of Salisbury’s history and heritage such as Salisbury Cathedral and Magna Carta, as well as our arts and culture, shopping, food and drink and nightlife. Salisbury is also a great base for visitors to experience popular attractions further afield such as Stonehenge, Avebury and our White Horses.
“Here at VisitWiltshire we are focused on growing the county’s visitor economy by raising awareness to increase tourism visits and spend.”
The leader of Salisbury City Council Andrew Roberts welcomed the news and is looking forward to a boost in tourism in 2015.
He said: “I am very pleased with the news. I think that Salisbury is a great place to visit and hopefully tourists will want to come to the city in 2015.”
With Salisbury Cathedral set to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta the book calls visitors to see a “quintessentially English city”.
Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015 contributor Tom Hall said: “We included Salisbury in this year’s Best in Travel Top 10 Cities list because it deserves to be recognised as one of the UK’s most important destinations for travellers next year.
“Bursting with history, top class restaurants, atmospheric nightlife and a host of festivals planned for 2015, we believe Salisbury is a must-see for domestic and international travellers alike.”
The full list is below:
- WASHINGTON, DC, USA
- EL CHALTÉN, Argentina
- MILAN, Italy
- ZERMATT, Switzerland
- VALLETTA, Malta
- PLOVDIV, Bulgaria
- SALISBURY, UK
- VIENNA, Austria
- CHENNAI, India
- TORONTO, Canada
by Alex Rennie, Reporter (The Salisbury Journal)
The Stonehenge Travel Company,
Stonehenge and Salisbury Guided Tours
Plains, Trains and Automobiles: Salisbury, Stonehenge and South Wiltshire is a truly unique destination
Take some time out and escape to Wiltshire this year. Find out more about this mysterious and beautiful part England.
The newly completed Stonehenge visitor centre deserves an extended visit. We recommend staying in Wiltshire and exploring the surrounding area, rich in history, myths and legends. Salisbury, Stonehenge and South Wiltshire is a truly unique destination. Set among some of the most beautiful countryside and with a 5,000 year old history the area is steeped in history but with its eye firmly fixed on the future.
Salisbury is a bit of a rail hub with main lines and frequent trains going east to London, south to Southampton and west to Bath and Bristol. Frequent trains run from London’s Waterloo station taking approximately 80 minutes to do the journey. There are normally two trains an hour operating up until very late evening. During the week, the cheap tickets are not available until after the morning commuter rush. Don’t worry if your accommodation is in London, its very easy to get to Salisbury or Bath from London by train and the trains run till late so there is still time to get back to London last thing.
Here are some examples of how accessible Wiltshire is using the Inter-City services from central London:
• London (Paddington) – Bath and Bristol via Swindon (55 mins),Chippenham (70 mins) and Great Bedwyn (90 mins).
• London (Waterloo) – Salisbury (90 mins) and Tisbury (103 mins).
Salisbury is one of England’s most wonderful cities – a medieval masterpiece with something for everyone. From traditional English pubs to cosmopolitan street cafes and from hard-to-find specialist shops to major high street stores, you’ll find it in Salisbury. And at its heart there is the magnificent Salisbury Cathedral, towering over the city as it has for over 750 years. Step outside of the city and you are in another world. Green hills, crystal clear rivers and picturesque towns and villages just waiting to be discovered. And, of course, there’s Stonehenge. The world’s most famous stone circle stands just a few miles north of Salisbury – a must see destination.
Stonehenge Stone Circle is the most famous and enigmatic Megalithic site in the United Kingdom. Dominating the landscape of Salisbury Plain in the county of Wiltshire, the giant standing stones of Stonehenge – some weighing up to 50 tonnes – are a mysterious icon left by mysterious ancient peoples. You may have a special interest in burial chambers, the construction of Stonehenge, the purpose and culture of the people that built the henge.
English Heritage Stonehenge Visitor Centre. The fantastic new £27m visitor centre at Stonehenge is now open, offering tourists an interactive experience and the chance to examine prehistoric objects. Visitors are transported by shuttle bus more than a mile (2km) from the venue to see the stones.
Discover prehistoric sites and rare species preserved on Salisbury Plain. An ocean of grassland and a sweep of big sky. Ancient monuments loom out of the mist; camouflaged soldiers crouch in the undergrowth. Salisbury Plain is a landscape of extremes. It is the largest remaining area of chalk grassland in Northwest Europe and home to 2,300 prehistoric sites yet also the largest military training area on British soil.
Avebury Stone Circle Avebury rivals – some would say exceeds – Stonehenge as the largest, most impressive and complex pre-historic site in Britain. Avebury is part of a wider complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments, with many other ritual sites in English Heritage care. West Kennet Avenue joined it to The Sanctuary, and another stone avenue connected it with Beckhampton. West Kennet Long Barrow and Windmill Hill are also nearby, as is the huge and mysterious Silbury Hill. This extraordinary assemblage of sites seemingly formed a huge ‘sacred landscape’, whose use and purpose can still only be guessed at. Avebury and its surroundings have, with Stonehenge, achieved international recognition as a World Heritage Site.
Mysterious Crop circles Salisbury Plain is well known for its crop circles and much mystery still remains as to why they occur and the meanings behind their complex formations. A tour of the ancient hills and vales of Wiltshire which are, inexplicably, the world capital of crop circles Crop circles in Wiltshire often occur around the heart of the county in and around Avebury, usually first appearing in April and continuing into the summer months. Crop circle guided tours can be arranged from Salisbury or Bath
Guided Tours from Salisbury can return to Salisbury or why not make the most of your sightseeing and be dropped off in Bath, Southampton or even London. Popular destinations can include: Salisbury Cathedral and the Magna Carta | Old Sarum Hillfort | Stonehenge Stone Circle and the new visitor centre | Woodhenge and Durrington Walls | Ancient Chalk Hill Figures | Pewsey valleys | Salisbury Plain and mysterious crop circles | Avebury Stone Circle | West Kennet Long Barrow | Silbury Hill | Lacock Village | Castle Combe Village | The Cotswolds | Glastonbury Tor and The Isle of Avalon
Needless to say private guided tours are bespoke and can be tailoured to suit your needs in the date(s) you wish to travel. Stonehenge private access tours allow you to enter the inner circle of Stonehenge before or after it is officially open to the public.
A once in a lifetime opportunity!
We would be delighted to arrange a private guide tour of Wiltshire and help you with your Salisbury Travel plans. Email us: tours@StonehengeTravel.co.uk or visit our website: http://www.StonehengeTravel.co.uk
Some Salisbury and Stonehenge links:
Visit Wiltshire: Discover things to do and places to visit across Wiltshire. Plan your visit, book hotels and accommodation and find out what’s on in the county. http://www.VisitWiltshire.co.uk
Download the Visit Wiltshire Apps here: http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/plan-your-visit/apps
Magnificent Salisbury Cathedral with the tallest church spire in the United Kingdom, home to the finest of the four surviving original Magna Carta 1215: http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/
Old Sarum Hillfort: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/old-sarum/
Longleat Safari and Adventure Park, in Wiltshire, England was opened in 1966 and was the first drive-through safari park outside Africa: http://www.Longleat.co.uk
Wilton House is an English country house situated at Wilton near Salisbury in Wiltshire. It has been the country seat of the Earls of Pembroke for over 400 years: http://www.WiltonHouse.co.uk
Amesbury Museum & Heritage Centre: http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/ideas-and-inspiration/amesbury-museum-and-heritage-centre-p1536253
Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum: Showcasing the medieval Cathedral town of Salisbury and the ancient wonders of Stonehenge. http://www.salisburymuseum.org.uk/
The Cathedral Express. Wonderful days out by steam train: http://www.steamdreams.com/
English Heritage: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/
The Stonehenge Tourism Website: http://www.Stonehenge-Tourism.com
London to Salisbury Trains: http://www.thetrainline.com/
Guided Tours of Stonehenge and Salisbury http://www.StonehengeTravel.co.uk
For Stonehenge and Salisbury News follow us on Twitter: @SalisburyTours
Local Wiltshire Tour Guide
The Stonehenge Travel Company