Salisbury is, in my view, one of the most beautiful of the English cathedrals.
I learned something new about it today: Its high altar was evidently located further forward in the past than it is now. And part of the evidence for that is a still-existing and apparently medieval winch, pointless in today’s structure, that is mounted on the wall to the north of the spot where the high altar probably once stood. The theory is that there was a veil separating the high altar, as well as the remainder of the area reserved for the clergy, from the laity. (This would correspond to the later division, simply, between the nave of the cathedral and its choir.) But, so the theory continues, the veil was raised up at Easter, symbolizing the entrance of the great high priest, Christ, into the heavens on our behalf and, thus, the opening of the heavens to us.
There was also an exhibit, in the cathedral’s chapter house, regarding Magna Carta — one of the pivotal documents leading toward the American Constitution. Four copies of Magna Carta survive, and the best one of them belongs to Salisbury Cathedral. It was on display.
We and some friends are staying tonight at Rollestone Manor, a bed and breakfast about two miles away from Stonehenge. Part of Rollestone Manor dates back nine and a half centuries. It was even mentioned in the Domesday Book, in 1086.
Posted (while suffering terrible jet lag) from Rollestone Manor, near Shrewton, Wiltshire, England