Welcome to Salisbury, a historic cathedral city located in Wiltshire, England. Situated at the confluence of the rivers Avon, Nadder, and Bourne, Salisbury boasts a rich history, stunning architecture, and picturesque landscapes. With a population of 41,820, Salisbury is a vibrant city located approximately 20 miles (30 kilometers) from Southampton and 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Bath. The city is also near the edge of Salisbury Plain, an area known for its ancient sites and natural beauty.
Salisbury’s history dates back to the Iron Age, when a hillfort was constructed near the present-day city. The Romans may have occupied the site or left it in the hands of an allied tribe. During the Saxon invasions, Old Sarum fell to King Cynric of Wessex in 552, but was largely ignored until the Viking invasions led King Alfred to restore its fortifications. After being sacked and burned by the Dano-Norwegian king Sweyn Forkbeard in 1003, it subsequently became the site of Wilton’s mint. Following the Norman invasion of 1066, a motte-and-bailey castle was constructed by 1070. The castle was held directly by the Norman kings, and in 1075 the Council of London established Herman as the first bishop of Salisbury. Osmund served as Lord Chancellor of England and was responsible for the codification of the Sarum Rite, the compilation of the Domesday Book, and the construction of the first Salisbury cathedral. Bishop Roger refurbished and expanded Old Sarum’s cathedral in the 1110s and began work on a royal palace during the 1130s. Herbert and Richard Poore, both bishops of Salisbury, eventually moved the cathedral to a new town on his estate at Veteres Sarisberias, which became known as New Sarum or New Saresbyri. The town was laid out on a grid and the cathedral building, the present-day Salisbury Cathedral, began in 1221. The structure was built upon wooden faggots on a gravel bed with unusually shallow foundations of 18 in (45 cm) and the main body was completed in only 38 years. The 123 m or 404 ft tall spire was built later. With royal approval, many of the stones for the new cathedral were taken from the old one; others came from Chilmark. The cathedral is considered a masterpiece of Early English architecture and contains the best-preserved of the four surviving copies of Magna Carta.
Salisbury was made a city by a charter from King Henry III in 1227 and, by the 14th century, was the largest settlement in Wiltshire. The city wall surrounds the Close and was built in the 14th century, again with stones removed from the former cathedral at Old Sarum. During his time in the city, the composer Handel stayed in a room above St. Anns gate. The original site of the city at Old Sarum fell into disuse. In the 20th and 21st centuries, Salisbury gained fame as a major centre of production for Supermarine Spitfires during World War II. Several factories were set up in the city centre and the surrounding area, staffed by predominantly young women who were trained for specific tasks in the aircraft construction process. Supporting the factories were many workers producing small components in home-based workshops and garden sheds. Salisbury was the site chosen to assemble James II’s forces to resist the Glorious Revolution. It was also the site chosen to assemble forces during the 1948 Summer Olympics. In 2009, the name was formally amended from New Sarum to Salisbury.