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During 2015 we are celebrating the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. Here in Salisbury we are particularly proud that our own Magna Carta is considered to be the best of the originals. Salisbury Cathedral also has the tomb of William Longespée, Earl of Salisbury, half brother of King John. Longespée is specifically mentioned in Magna Carta as an advisor to King John. Richard Poore, Bishop of Salisbury is described as a witness in the 1225 re-issue of Magna Carta on display in Washington & Canberra. In addition Salisbury has been the scene of many historic visits by the Kings and Queens of England over the last thousand years. This walk will look at the changes to liberty, justice and power, both in Salisbury and throughout the kingdom, over many centuries.
We shall see how the liberty of the people of Salisbury has been influenced by harsh Norman Kings, Magna Carta, powerful Bishops, cruel civil wars, severe punishments, a Rotten Borough and unjust laws. This walk is a journey from absolute medieval monarchy to the constitutional monarchy of today. From feudal law to parliamentary law. From royal power to people power.
Please see Magna Carta Walk Flyer 2014 (2).pdf for more details
6th, 13th, 20th, 27th June 2015
Walks start at 2.00pm and last for about 90 minutes.
Tickets £6.00 each and can be bought in advance from Salisbury Information Centre Telephone: 01722 342860
The Walks do NOT include entry to Salisbury Cathedral Magna Carta Exhibition.
For more information about these walks visit Salisbury’s Blue Badge Guides website
The Stonehenge Travel Company
Stonehenge and Salisbury Guided Tours
Legend has it that in 1220 the Bishop of Salisbury shot an arrow high into the air from the ramparts of Old Sarum castle vowing that he would build a new cathedral wherever the arrow landed. He must have had arms like an ox or some seriously impressive divine intervention for Salisbury Cathedral is actually several miles from the castle.
Little matter. The reality is that the Cathedral he had built is probably the finest example of Early English gothic architecture in the country. It is perfectly positioned on the beautiful water meadows beside the slow-moving River Avon and topped by the tallest spire in the country (which you can climb if you have the knees and lungs for it).
It is also home to the best-preserved of the four remaining original Magna Cartas which guarantees the city a starring role in the document’s 800th birthday celebrations throughout 2015.
Salisbury and surrounding areas of Wiltshire, including Stonehenge and the market town of Trowbridge, make up one of six designated Magna Carta trails. These guide visitors through some of the most historic and picturesque parts of England from Durham and York in the north to Worcester and Hereford in the centre, Norwich in the east and Dover, Canterbury and Pevensey in the south west.
Events kicked off in February when the four surviving original Magna Cartas — from Salisbury, from Lincoln Cathedral and two kept at the British Library — were brought together, the first time this has ever occurred, for three days in London.
For the rest of the year the Magna Carta is at the heart of a myriad of festivals, fetes, exhibitions and displays, literary and academic gatherings in every city, town and village with even the flimsiest link. And a few without any connection at all.
The Magna Carta, literally the Great Charter, was essentially a political device, drawn up to settle an increasingly violent dispute between King John and 25 rebel barons. Much of it referred to specific grievances. Its enduring legacy was that it outlined basic human rights, setting the principle that no-one was above the law and everyone had the right to a fair trial.
It not only became the cornerstone of the British constitution, it influenced subsequent documents like the US Bill of Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In March the Salisbury Magna Carta was returned to a redesigned interactive display in the Cathedral Chapter House along with other historical treasures from the extensive archives.
And the Cathedral itself is well worth a detailed exploration: from medieval tombs and effigies to the arched supporting pillars bent inward under the weight of the tower. There’s a beautiful modern baptismal font which spectacularly reflects the ceiling and the brilliantly coloured stained glass windows and the bumping stone, worn away from the centuries of traditionally “bumping” the heads of new choirboys to welcome them.
It has wide vaulted cloisters and boasts the oldest working clock in Europe. Built in 1386 it’s an ingenious series of weights and pulleys that has no traditional face but sounds the hour.
Running parallel to the building is the eye-catching Cathedral Close where the clergy lived. It still has a number of the original medieval buildings as well as some elegant Georgian town houses such as the impressive Mompesson House and featured in a film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.
Stonehenge, just 13 kilometres from Salisbury, remains one of the world’s great mysteries. Religious temple? Astronomical clock? Ancient burial chamber? Alien landing zone (that’s my favourite)? Truth is, nobody knows for sure. The mesmerising prehistoric circle of monolithic stones, dating back to between 3000-2000 BC and one of the most distinctive monuments in the world, still baffles experts and attracts more than a million tourists each year.
The new visitor centre, designed by an Australian firm of architects, is modern and eye catching yet sits surprisingly sympathetically in the rolling Wiltshire countryside.
Consisting of two main “pods” one of glass and one of wood, under a soft wave metal roof balanced on slender, unevenly angled metal poles. Inside, it contains an engaging interactive education centre, a cafe, shop and toilets.
The original “facilities” have been removed from their position much closer to the stones, and an access road grassed over which means Stonehenge can now be viewed not as an isolated structure but as part of a broader sweep of ancient mounds and barrows.
Visitors must walk through the gently undulating fields the approximately 2kms from the centre to the stones or take the official land-train. It always was an awesome site but now, with less clutter, it seems even more impressive.
There is more mystery at nearby Avebury which has the largest stone circle in the world, more than 100 stones believed to have been erected about 4,500 years ago. Or Woodhenge, with the remains of six concentric rings possibly part of a structure used by an early community.
From Avebury you can also see Spilbury Hill, the largest man made mound. What the circle and the mound were for, and who created them, is still unknown. Another mystery.
Trowbridge is impressively credentialed for inclusion on the Magna Carta trail. Mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1200 the town was granted one of the earliest market charters from King John.
But by 1215, Baron Henry de Bohun, tiring of the King’s constant demands for increased taxes, joined with 24 other barons to force him to seal the Magna Carta at Runnymede near Windsor. Henry, clutching the charter, is immortalised in a stained-glass window in the parish church.
Through the centuries, Trowbridge forged itself a position as a centre of weaving, first fine woollen cloth, largely for export to Europe then, when that dwindled, into coloured cloth made from the wool of Spanish merino sheep. Quick to adapt to new technology, first the spinning jenny and then the power looms, at one stage the town’s industry was so dominant it was dubbed the “Manchester of the West.”
Although not as cutesy as many of the villages and towns in Wiltshire, Trowbridge has numerous important historic buildings across a wide range of eras. Its museum, which focuses heavily on the town’s nationally important textile heritage, is a kids’ paradise. Established in one of the old cloth mills it has that real feel of living history which many of the newer and more high tech museums have lost. Here you are transported back in time in a series of historic tableaux.
No visit to any part of England is officially complete without a pint of the best local brew. Wadworth Brewery is based in the pretty town of Devizes, roughly 40 kilometres north of Salisbury and has been serving up specialist regional beers for more than 125 years.
It runs regular tours that include the opportunity to meet two of the brewery’s most popular workers, the gentle giants Max and Monty, two magnificent Shire horses who still deliver the beer to local pubs pulling the distinctive drays.
But the highlight has to be dropping in to the brewery’s own private “pub”. Here, visitors can compare the various brews like the popular 6X and the Bishop’s Tipple. Or go for something a little different like the Swordfish, created for the 100th anniversary of the Fleet Air Arm, where beer blended with Pusser’s Navy Rum. Cheers.
The writer was a guest of Visit England and travelled with British Airways.
A NEW two-day tourist trail has been announced by VisitWiltshire and Salisbury Cathedral to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta in 2015.
The new Salisbury and Wiltshire trail includes Salisbury Cathedral and Magna Carta on day one and the Stonehenge World Heritage Site and the Baron Town of Trowbridge on day two.
The Wiltshire trail is one of six special trails, each covering different aspects of the Magna Carta story.
Salisbury Cathedral is home to the best preserved of only four remaining copies of the original 1215 Magna Carta which will be re-displayed in an interactive exhibition for 2015.
Robert Key, chairman of Salisbury Cathedral’s Magna Carta Celebrations Committee, said: “This trail is great news and will bring many visitors to Wiltshire and to Salisbury Cathedral to see the finest preserved original Magna Carta in its anniversary year.
“We are looking forward to making those visitors a part of 2015’s 800th anniversary celebrations with a great programme of events and a wonderful new exhibition around Salisbury Cathedral’s Magna Carta.”
On June 15 it will be exactly 800 years after King John added his seal to Magna Carta, as presented to him by the barons at Runnymede on the Thames near Windsor.
The trails were commissioned by the 800th Commemoration Committee of the Magna Carta Trust to encourage visitors to the Magna Carta towns as history, heritage and anniversary tourism become increasingly popular themes for travellers.
Sir Robert Worcester, chairman of the Magna Carta Trust’s 800th anniversary committee said: “They will be colourful guides for the thousands of visitors who will converge on England from around the world next summer, wishing to explore the areas which are part of the Magna Carta story. Doing all six trails will take visitors just over a fortnight, and immerse them in 800 years of history.” Article by: by Alex Rennie, Salilsbury Journal Reporter
Magna Carta 2015
Salisbury Cathedral is extremely proud to be home to the finest of the four surviving original 1215 Magna Carta. It plans to take a leading role in the 2015 celebrations marking the 800th anniversary of the historic and iconic document.
For more information about the trails go to www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/magnacarta.
More News on this story:
Salisbury Cathedral has been awarded £415,800 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to mark the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta in 2015. Click here
Christmas in Salisbury, Wiltshire is a truly magical time with special family events, twinkling lights and much more…
Salisbury will be hosting yet another Christmas Market promising some wonderful stalls, perfect for all your Christmas shopping, in the historic setting of the Guildhall Square.
Come to Salisbury’s lovely and very British Christmas Market! Rated by the Daily Telegraph in 2013 as one of the ‘Top 5 Christmas Markets in the UK’, we believe you will find it to be one of the most attractive and enjoyable Christmas Markets in the country.
During the Christmas Market there will be a programme of local choirs and music groups performing festive music, with many retailers in Salisbury organising additional special events.
This year we will also be celebrating ‘Christmas Traditions from around Europe’, with special events planned for St. Andrew’s Day, St. Lucia Day and St. Nikolaus Day, as well as the annual Lantern Procession on Thursday 27th November and a new event called ‘All Salisbury Sings’ on Friday 19th December: Visit the Salisbury Christmas Market website
Visit the excellent Visit Wiltshire website for further details: http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/whats-on/salisbury-christmas-market-p1367503
In addition to our colourful Christmas Market, Salisbury holds it’s traditional and vibrant Charter Market in the central Market Place each Tuesday and Saturday which incorporates a local Farmers’ Market too. In addition a Farmers’ Market is held every Wednesday at the Poultry Cross.
Take a stroll to Salisbury’s beautiful Cathedral Close and admire the grandeur of the surrounding buildings before visiting Salisbury Cathedral – if you are feeling active why not take a trip on one of the popular tower tours to find out more, and be rewarded with a most magnificent view of Salisbury from high. Follow this with a visit to the multi-awarding winning Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum to discover more about the history of this medieval City.
Christmas Highlights at Salisbury Cathedral:
- Christmas Twighlight Tower Tours
BBC Wiltshire Carol Service
The Christmas Procession
Christmas Events for families
Download information about Salisbury Cathedral key Christmas services and events here
Salisbury Tourist Information
Why not find out more about this medieval City by taking part in a guided walk that leaves Salisbury Information Centre in Fish Row every Saturday and Sunday at 11am.
For more information on what to see and do, and where to stay please visit Salisbury Information Centre, Fish Row or call 01722 342860.
The Stonehenge Travel Company (Proud Visit Wiltshire Member)
Private guided tours of Salisbury and Stonehenge.
Salisbury Cathedral, home to the finest of the four surviving original 1215 Magna Carta, will be taking a leading role in the 2015 celebrations marking the 800th anniversary of the historic and iconic document the legacy of which has been its enduring global influence. Magna Carta’s clauses on social justice form the cornerstone of modern democracy and liberty worldwide and are as pertinent today as they were 800 years ago.
Robert Key, chairman of Salisbury Cathedral’s Magna Carta 800th anniversary committee, said “Salisbury Cathedral is extremely proud to own the finest preserved of the four surviving original 1215 documents. We know how important the Magna Carta is to people from across the globe and what it represents for them. The 1215 Magna Carta is inscribed in the UNESCO ‘Memory of the World’ register, underlining the fact that the documents held by Salisbury Cathedral, Lincoln Cathedral and The British Library are regarded amongst the world’s most significant documentary heritage.”
The Dean of Salisbury, the Very Revd June Osborne, said “Plans are being advanced here at Salisbury Cathedral to commemorate the forthcoming 800th anniversary of Magna Carta by promoting the values and ideals that it represents. Our ambition is to present a wonderful mix of spiritual and secular celebrations, promoting justice and freedom in a practical sense, and running a full programme of learning and outreach events for people of all ages. We aim to inspire further activity in the years that follow by leaving a lasting national and international legacy.”
Salisbury Cathedral intends to re-display and re-present its Magna Carta in the newly-conserved Chapter House, safeguarding the document for the future and using the latest interpretation techniques to communicate Magna Carta’s historic background and modern significance to the many extra visitors it expects to welcome in 2015. It also hopes to conserve and repair the Cathedral’s medieval Cloisters where the Chapter House is located.
Plans for further celebrations are underway, and aim to include a lecture series chaired by the Dean of Salisbury featuring international speakers exploring topics inspired by Magna Carta. The Cathedral also has ambitions to present a Medieval Fair for all the family, a pageant involving hundreds of local people, a special concert, a Celebratory Eucharist and a week-long flower festival, as well as other events. Alongside this activity, the Cathedral’s education department will work closely with schools throughout the year to deliver curriculum-focused programmes supporting citizenship and history.
Salisbury Cathedral is working closely with partners to deliver its ambitious programme, these include: The British Library, Diocese of Salisbury, Lincoln Cathedral, Magna Carta 800th Committee/ Magna Carta Trust, Wiltshire Council, Dorset County Council, Salisbury City Council, Visit Wiltshire, UNESCO, and AGEAS Salisbury International Arts Festival.
Brief background information on Magna Carta 1215
Magna Carta is one of the most celebrated documents in English history, regarded as the cornerstone of English liberty, law and democracy, and its legacy has been its enduring worldwide influence. It was written in Latin, the language of all official documents of the period, on a single skin of vellum (calfskin). It consists of 63 clauses written on 76 tightly packed lines, written with the standard medieval time and space-saving abbreviations. It is one of the most celebrated documents in English history whose importance cannot be exaggerated. It is often claimed to be the cornerstone of English liberty, law and democracy and its legacy has been its enduring and worldwide influence. The critical importance of the charter is that it imposed for the first time detailed written constraints on royal authority in the fields of taxation, feudal rights and justice, and limited unjust and arbitrary behaviour by the king. Magna Carta has become an icon for freedom and democracy throughout the world. The other surviving copies are held by the British Library and Lincoln Cathedral.
Salisbury Cathedral Chapter House opening times to see Magna Carta 1215 are:
Monday-Saturday: 1 April – 31 October, 9.30am – 4.30pm, 1 November – 31 March, 10.00am – 4.30pm
Sundays: all year, 12.45pm – 4.30pm.
The Stonehenge Travel and Tour Company, Salisbury
Expert Guided tours of Stonehenge and Salisbury