Sunday, October 12, 2014

Salisbury holiday 2014

Last week we had a few days away in Salisbury, staying at the very comfortable Rose and Crown Hotel. This was the view from our hotel bedroom, straight out onto the River Avon, with Salisbury Cathedral just visible through the trees. The restaurant was also on the banks of the river, and we enjoyed having our breakfast looking out over it. We ate in the hotel one night too, but it was too dark to see anything then!

The hotel was 10 minutes walk from the city centre (about 20 minutes' walk from the railway station), or a longer route over the water meadows with beautiful views of the cathedral on the other side.

We'd already done some exploring when we visited Salisbury for the day whilst we were on holiday in June, so we quickly got reacquainted with the city centre. This is one of the routes out from the Cathedral Close.
On the first day, after we'd got settled into the hotel, we visited Mompesson House, an 18th century National Trust property within the Cathedral Close. The Sense and Sensibility film starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet was filmed here back in 1995, so some parts may look a bit familiar.

There was a modern sculpture exhibition on inside the house, which included the occasional knitted/felted object too.

The rooms were all beautiful, and it was fairly quiet so easy to see everything and photos (without flash) were allowed. This is the OH looking at some of the books in the library. There are more photos of Mompesson House on Flickr.

On the full day of our holiday we decided to visit Stonehenge, after lots of umming and ahing as the only way to get there by public transport is on the Stonehenge Tour bus, which costs £14 for an adult! In the end we decided to go, as we could get free admission to Stonehenge itself as we're National Trust members. Otherwise the outing would have cost nearly £60, which would have really put us off going. I was also interested to see what they'd done to Stonehenge, as I knew a new visitor centre had been opened.

Stonehenge was actually better than we'd been expecting. The visitor centre building is a bit jarring and modern, but isn't within sight of the stones. More importantly it houses plenty of loos(!), a café, a very over-priced shop and an exhibition. Outside, there are a few replica neolithic houses to go inside. The exhibition was quite good, if not very big. It was definitely designed to get as many people through in as little time as possible!

The stones are a short distance away, and you can either walk to them, or catch a shuttle bus/land train. As it was rather a wet and windy day, we caught the bus. There is an accessible path up to the stones, and then plenty of space to walk around them, with good views of the stones, both reasonably close to, and further away. I know some people were complaining that they couldn't actually go up to the stones themselves, but that seems a bit unrealistic considering the fragile ground and the number of visitors. Also, seen like this, it was possible to take good pictures of the stones without people in the way.

Halfway round viewing the stones it started raining in earnest so we got totally drenched!! There is no shelter at the stones themselves, so we just carried on walking round them, then caught the bus back to the visitor centre! It was very windy so the rain was blowing sideways. Always fun. There are more photos from Stonehenge on Flickr.

On our way back towards Salisbury the tour bus stops at Old Sarum, which was what we'd really come to visit. This is the original site of the city, and was an Iron Age hill fort, and where the castle and first cathedral once stood, but the site had little access to water and was abandoned in the 13th century in favour of the current site of Salisbury. It's easier to get a sense of the site from the aerial photo on the Old Sarum website.

This is the view from near the entrance, over towards Salisbury itself. The site was first used in the Iron Age, and first appears in documentary records during the Roman occupation. After the Conquest, William the Conqueror built the castle on the site.

Inside the castle, the remains of the Courtyard House. The walls were demolished when the city was abandoned, and the stone taken away to use in building the new Salisbury.

This is the view from what remains of the ramparts, to the remains of the cathedral. The first cathedral was begun in 1075, but was damaged in a thunderstorm in 1092, only five days after it was consecrated. Work on the extended cathedral began in 1130. I found it rather odd that they put so much work in over so many years, only to move the cathedral (and tombs) to the new Salisbury site in 1226.

There are more photos from Old Sarum on Flickr.
And that was about it. We returned to Salisbury for another night at the hotel, before catching the train back to Staines the next day.

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