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A Tale of Two Cities - The Titfield Thunderbolt
Heisenberg might have stayed here
qatsi
qatsi
A Tale of Two Cities
kharin and I took a trip to Salisbury today. Like Winchester, there's a very good Park and Ride scheme - a flat £1.50 fee for parking with a free bus journey to and fro for the day.

The main purpose of the trip was to see the Cathedral. From the outside, it is rather more impressive than Winchester Cathedral (due both to its spire and the spectacular array of carving on its frontage), though Winchester undoubtedly has the edge on the interior. Initially we made for the refectory as it was lunch time when we arrived. The food was adequate; I found it amusing that the "home-made" double chocolate brownie did appear to have been produced in industrial quantities. I had a nasty incident on the exit from the refectory: I'll spare you the details, but let's just say that if God had intended us to open glass doors with no frame around them, He would never have given us fingernails.

Though it was possible to go on a tour of the tower, on this occasion we declined. The town of Salisbury is not so well sited as Winchester and the potential for a view was not obvious; the weather, though dry, was somewhat overcast too. Indeed, Salisbury seems to be the mediaeval result of the Bishop decamping from Old Sarum a couple of miles away, when the population outgrew its space and there were difficulties in obtaining an adequate water supply. The stained glass windows were interesting in their variety; whilst many were obviously Victorian in nature, some were apparently Victorian reproductions in 13th century style, while the East window dates from 1980 and is dedicated to Prisonsers of Conscience in the twentieth century. It seems a curious anachronism given the current mania for Restoration and "original features". (And, now having watched Father's Day this evening, the impossibility of simultaneously preserving the past and building the future seemed to emphasise this point). Finally in the Cathedral, the Chapter House contains one of the remaining "original copies" of Magna Carta. Of course, I bought the obligatory CD of organ music featuring the Cathedral's Willis Organ.

Around the Cathedral Close, the Mediaeval Hall was unfortunately closed due to a wedding, so it was on to Mompesson House, where kharin's NT membership got him fast-tracked through the door, while I had to endure the well-meaning lady trying to up-sell me to join as if she were in a call centre.

Finally, as we were in the area, it seemed a shame not to make the slight detour to see Stonehenge. I've always been a bit sceptical about the visitor arrangements, and though it was a bit pricey when you consider what's on offer, I suppose it has to subsidise other English Heritage sites. And the heritage was very English: like cattle through the turnstiles, through a subway where you wouldn't fancy your chances against a bunch of chavs in caps and hoodies, out into a field where the fencing wouldn't hold back a five-year old, and back to Ye Gifte Shoppe selling all the tat you can imagine. Actually, though, the path around the stones wasn't at all bad and I doubt you would gain anything further from walking within them, unless you're an archaeologist. The leaflet corrected one misunderstanding for me: the large stones are fairly local, from about 30km away; the stones from the Preseli mountains are the smaller inner circle only.

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qatsi From: qatsi Date: May 16th, 2005 05:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, just one of those things - a sore thumb for a couple of days, and a discoloured one for a week or two, I imagine. I must remember that people generally put handles on doors for a reason!

And yes, it was a good day out.
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