Sunday, 14 February 2010

Salisbury Sojourn

We took a trip out to neighbouring Salisbury today. It's been a long time since I last visited, an embarrassing 12 years to be exact, so it was long overdue a return trip.

DSC04243 The main attraction was, unsurprisingly, the Cathedral, an 11th century marvel that's holding up pretty well. Because of its stature, it pretty much dominates the town, so provides a very helpful navigation marker.

As well as hosting the usual range of stained glass photo-opportunities and the obligatory cavernous vertical spaces, it also had a really neat baptismal font up front. Viewed from afar, this appeared to have four shiny metal legs, but up close these were revealed as spouts of (presumably holy) water from the corners of an X-shaped (oddly not cruciform) font. I tried to snap off some pictures of this, and its impressive mirror-like surface, but none turned out well.

Aside from its religious fixtures and fittings, the Cathedral also houses one of only four remaining copies of the Magna Carta. While it was great to finally see this (reading it not being an option given its language and scripting), I'm still somewhat unmoved by its ostensible significance. Yes, I can see how our current freedoms, etc., somehow stem from it, but my mind always drifts back to it really being about the freedoms of the ruling classes of the 13th century. I'm pretty sure that the document's drafting committee would be absolutely horrified at what's become of their sceptred isle since then, what with all of these commoners, serfs and (the horror) women being afforded the freedoms that they thought they'd safely confined to themselves. Still, I suppose I should be grateful.

DSC04292 Bar a trawl around the city's streets and a visit to another religious edifice (the Parish Church of St. Thomas and St. Edmund), not a whole heap more to report from Salisbury. We did find an interesting sundial that dated from the Reformation of the Calendar in 1752. Somewhat to my surprise (having surveyed a number over the years), it was actually almost correct as well. We saw it at 2:28pm, and its face claimed about 2:10pm, so not bad. Close by we also came across a blue plaque for the novelist William Golding (though I say that as if I've read any more than Lord of the Flies).

Anyway, a nice daytrip out. Hopefully it won't take another 12 years for Salisbury to pique my interest again. Actually, I've still got Stonehenge to do (having been impressed by the automobile equivalent), so we're bound to be back at some stage.

(Needless to say, lots of photographs from our trip)

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