|OS grid reference:||SU145305|
|Region:||South West England|
|Post office and telephone|
|European Parliament:||South West England|
Salisbury (pronounced 'Solsbree' or 'Sauls-bree') is a small cathedral city in Wiltshire, England. It is the main town in the Salisbury district. It is also sometimes called New Sarum to distinguish it from the original site of settlement at Salisbury, Old Sarum. A native of Salisbury is known as a "Sarumite".
Salisbury railway station serves the town, and is the crossing point between the West of England Main Line and the Wessex Main Line making it a regional interchange. It is also at the confluence of several main roads. The town is located in the south-east of Wiltshire, near to Salisbury Plain and has a population of around 45,000 residents (2006 estimate).
It is at the confluence of five rivers: the Avon, Nadder, Ebble, Wylye (pronounced 'Why-lee') and Bourne. The resultant river is the Avon (old Welsh for 'river'), which flows to the south coast and out into the sea at Christchurch, Dorset. This Avon is sometimes referred to as the Hampshire Avon, in order to distinguish it from the many other rivers of the same name in the United Kingdom.
The city's origins go back to the Iron Age, and the Romans called it "Sorviodunum". There was a battle between the West Saxons and the Britons here, after which the place was called "Searoburh". The Normans built a castle and called it "Searesbyrig" or "Seresberi". By 1086, in the Domesday Book, it was called "Salesberie". The site of the castle is now known as Old Sarum and is uninhabited. The bury element is a form of borough, which has cognates in words and place names throughout the Germanic languages.
The name "Sarum", which is often mistakenly taken to be the Roman or Norman name for the old city and castle, came into use when documents were written in contracted Latin and it was easier to write Sar with a stroke over the "r", than write the complete word "Saresberie". That mark of contraction was also the common symbol for the Latin termination "um". Hence "Sar" with a stroke over the r was copied as "SarUM". One of the first known uses of "Sarum" is on the seal of Saint Nicholas Hospital, Salisbury,which was in use in 1239. Bishop Wyville (1330-1375) was the first Bishop to describe himself "episcopus Sarum". (A full description of this is given in "The Victoria History of Wiltshire", Vol. VI, pp. 93-94).
The first cathedral was built at Old Sarum by St Bishop Osmund between 1075 and 1092. A larger building was subsequently built on the same site in c.1120. However, deteriorating relations between the clergy and the military at Old Sarum led to the decision to resite the cathedral elsewhere. Thus the city of New Sarum, known as Salisbury, was founded in 1220, and the building of the new cathedral begun by Bishop Richard Poore in that year. The main body was completed in only 38 years and is a masterpiece of Early English architecture, the stones which make up the cathedral came down from Old Sarum. The spire, which is 123 metres tall, was built later and is the tallest spire in the UK. The cathedral is built on a gravel bed with unusually shallow foundations of 18 inches upon wooden faggots: the site is supposed to have been selected by firing an arrow from Old Sarum, although this is clearly legend due to the distance involved (although it is sometimes claimed the arrow hit a white deer, which continued to run and died on the spot where the Cathedral now exists).
In 1386, a large mechanical clock was installed at Salisbury Cathedral. It is the oldest surviving mechanical clock in Britain and probably anywhere.
The city wall surrounds the close and was built in the 14th Century. There are five gates in the wall, four are original a fourth was created in the 19th Century to allow access to Bishop Wordsworth's School located inside the Close. They are known as the High Street Gate, St Ann's Gate, the Queen's Gate, and St Nicholas's Gate. A room located above St Ann's Gate is where the composer Handel is known to have stayed, and whilst there wrote several works.
Salisbury holds a market on Tuesdays and Saturdays and has held a regular markets since 1227. In the 15th century the Market Place was dotted with stone crosses marking the centres for certain trades and goods. Today only the Poultry Cross remains, although the addition of flying buttresses was made in 1852.
In 1226, King Henry III granted the Bishop of Salisbury a charter to hold a fair lasting 8 days from the Feast of the Assumption of Mary (15 August). Over the centuries the dates for the fair have moved around, but in its modern guise, a funfair is now held in the Market Place for three days from the 3rd Monday in October. However, there is still an ancient law stating that the fair can move to the Cathedral close.
Salisbury has a strong artist community, with many galleries situated in the city centre. In the 18th century, John Constable made a number of celebrated landscape paintings featuring the cathedral spire and the surrounding countryside. Salisbury's annual International Arts Festival, held in late May to early June, provides a varied programme of theatre, live music, dance, public sculpture, street performance and art exhibitions.
The world famous Stonehenge site adds greatly to the local economy. Stonehenge is about 8 miles (13 km) northwest of Salisbury.
Salisbury is served by its own radio station, Spire FM. BBC Wiltshire is a regional station for the whole of the county. The Salisbury Journal is the local newspaper.
Salisbury falls into the BBC's southern region. Commercial TV is supplied by Meridian.
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