What are the best things to do in Salisbury, and why make a day trip from London to Salisbury?
The best things to do include visiting the 13th-century Salisbury Cathedral, which has the tallest spire in the UK and one of only four copies of the Magna Carta in existence; seeing the Parish Church of St Thomas, much of which dates from the 15th century; visiting the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, and the National Trust’s Mompesson House, which was built in 1701 and used in the 1995 film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.
In addition - and the reason many people go to Salisbury in the first place - the site of Stonehenge is only ten miles outside the town.
Stonehenge at Sunset
Salisbury Cathedral (right) is one of the finest cathedrals in England. It has been attracting pilgrims and other visitors for over 750 years, with most of the building work done between 1220 and 1258. One of the highlights is one of the best preserved of the original Magna Cartas, which can be seen in the Chapter House. Other notable features include the cathedral’s spire which, at 404ft, is the highest in the United Kingdom, the largest cloisters in the UK, and Europe’s oldest working clock, dating from 1386.
Parish Church of St Thomas
The Church of St Thomas a Becket dates mostly from the 15th century, although it’s known that there was a place of worship on this same site before the cathedral was built in the 13th century. The church is renowned for a particular painting called Doom, painted in 1475 by a grateful pilgrim and the largest of its type in England.
Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum
Anyone planning to visit Stonehenge should first go to Salisbury’s main museum, where there are impressive displays about the construction of the monument. There are many other enjoyable displays, including a costume collection and an art collection that has works by Turner, Constable, Augustus John and Whistler. The building itself, opposite the cathedral, is also fascinating, a Grade I Listed building that dates from the 13th century.
Mompesson House was built in Cathedral Close in 1701 and many of the fine original features can still be seen. That was one reason it was chosen by director Ang Lee as a setting for his 1995 film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. It also houses an outstanding collection of 18th-century drinking glasses, and has a lovely walled garden.
The very best thing to do in Salisbury is to visit Stonehenge. In fact Stonehenge is the main reason many people come to Salisbury, as this UNESCO World Heritage Site is only ten miles outside the town. Combining a visit to Stonehenge with a few hours in Salisbury makes for a great day out from London. There are buses from Salisbury to Stonehenge, or it’s close enough to take a taxi and arrange to be collected again later.
Stonehenge is arguably the most important historic monument in Britain, and a place that can truly be said to be awe-inspiring. Its purpose is still unknown, although archaeologists continue to piece together the jigsaw. To find out more about it, visit the Stonehenge history page on the English Heritage website.
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