Celebrating 800 Years of Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral is one of the largest cathedrals in the UK, as well as one of the oldest, as this year marks its 800th anniversary. A whole range of events and activities to celebrate the Cathedral’s anniversary were due to take place throughout the year, however the current global situation has unfortunately disrupted these. Nonetheless, Salisbury Cathedral still deserves celebration and recognition as it’s one of Britain’s most iconic and beautiful landmarks. So, we’re sharing a little bit of the Cathedral’s history and some key facts you probably didn’t know…

A timeline of key dates

13th Century –  Salisbury Cathedral’s story begins in the early 1220s, when Bishop Richard Poore, the medieval bishop of Salisbury, moved the cathedral and its community to where it stands today in the centre of Salisbury, England. Prior to this, the cathedral was actually based at Old Sarum, Salisbury’s earliest settlement site just 2 miles from modern Salisbury.

Construction work on the new Salisbury Cathedral was completed in just 38 years – a very short period of time for that century and cathedral of its size. It is built in almost entirely one architectural style, Early English Gothic. Today it remains as one of the leading examples of Early English architecture.

14th century  – Construction work on the tower and spire of the Cathedral started a little later and last around 46 years. Its spire is now the tallest church spire in the UK at around 404 feet.

18th century  – Significant architectural changes were made by architect James Wyatt which included replacing the original rood screen and demolition of a bell tower. As a result of this, Salisbury Cathedral is now one of three English Cathedrals to lack a ring of bells.

20th century – With two World Wars and the Great Depression, little changes were made to the Cathedral throughout the first half of the 20th century. However, in 1966 the then Clerk of the Works and Cathedral Architect advised the need for extensive fabric repairs. Many parts of the Cathedral were repaired throughout the second half of the 20th century, such as the roofs, the spire and the tower. These repairs became known as the ‘Major Repairs Programme’ and still continues to this day to help preserve the Cathedral.

21st century – Nowadays, over 60,000 visitors from all over the world are welcomed into the Cathedral each year. Services take place every day of the week and tours are available too, but for many travellers, seeing the Magna Carta is the real highlight.


A year long programme of events and activities were due to take place this year to celebrate the 800th anniversary, however the current global situation has prevented some from happening. Some celebrations have managed to go ahead, though. ‘Sarum Lights’ took place in February, a series of light installations which lit up the inside and outside of the Cathedral, inspired by its history. In March, it was announced that a statue would be erected to also celebrate the anniversary.

Whilst the planned events and activities might be postponed, why not tune in to an online service or take a virtual tour of the cathedral instead?

Quick Facts

  • The cathedral contains the oldest clock in the world
  • It’s formally known as the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • The cloister and cathedral close measure 80 acres
  • 28th April 1220 marks the day the first foundation stone was lai
  • It’s the seat of the Bishop of Salisbury and mother church of the Diocese of Salisbury.
  • 2008 was the 750th anniversary of its consecration

Britain is full of amazing churches and cathedrals that make a fascinating experience for everyone, no matter your religion. Check out our British Church Heritage package which covers churches, cathedrals and chapels across Scotland and England. Get in touch with us today to discuss more about this package. We are currently accepting Autumn bookings and Winter 20/21 bookings.

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