The city of Salisbury was built in the 1220s when the Bishop of Old Sarum ambitiously moved from his ancient hilltop seat and founded a new town in the valley below. The settlement was a great success and by the 15th century Salisbury was one of the largest towns in England. The cathedral was built with unusual speed, the main body being complete in just 38 years. The dizzying 123m spire was merely the third tallest in England when it was added a few decades later, but after Lincoln Cathedral’s effort collapsed in a storm, and the Great Fire of London destroyed the original St Paul’s, Salisbury was left with the title, which it has now held for 350 years. The present Bishop, Nicholas Holtam, was previously vicar of the famously musical church of St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square.
Did you know?
In 1991, Salisbury became was the first English cathedral to recruit girl choristers. The decision was not without its detractors, and the Campaign for the Traditional Cathedral Choir was formed soon after to support the ‘ancient tradition of the all-male choir in cathedrals’. Today, all but four of England’s Anglican cathedrals have girls’ choirs.