Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Having seen the Cathedral tower over the town and countryside, I was keen to return to Salisbury after visiting Stonehenge. We left our time open so we could be flexible, but then as RJH had been ill and wifi was hard to come by, he hadn't had the opportunity to do any research, really, while I was occupied with work. So, we were winging it. We drove back towards Salisbury, and tried the first hotel. I was a little underwhelmed dated, musty-smelling decor complete with fly-filled fly strip and a proprietor who couldn't be bothered to greet us. So, we continued to Salisbury. The first hotel we tried was full, but we asked in the pub attached and got some recommendations from friendly, if tipsy, locals. The second hotel offered us a room with two single beds for 150 £, which wasn't what we were looking for... so we tried the Cathedral hotel across the street. There, though they were booked solid, we found the help we needed. The really friendly Irishman at the desk not only recommended a bed and breakfast (I would have called it an inn), he called them, got us a room and negotiated a lower price. We ended up at the White Hart, where we had a small but elegant room, and full breakfast. The inn itself had some real history - dating back to James I, and boasting guests like from Sir Walter Rayleigh, (George III his Queen and daughters had planned a visit but could not stop) various Dukes and Duchesses, to a young Princess Victoria and later her family, to more recent authors Mark Twain, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Rudyard Kipling - according to a posted 'historical note' on the wall. We ate a tasty dinner in the Cloisters pub across the road.
In the morning we explored the Cathedral. I was very impressed with the statues on the facade which are incredibly naturalist for their age. Inside the various tombs, chapels, windows, and Medieval clock were fascinating. They also have the best, original Magna Carta... which they just happened to find in their archive and friendly volunteers there explained how the librarian would take it home at night in her bicycle basket during WWII because she was concerned it might get bombed. I would have thought the Cathedral would be more protection against bombing than any home or bicycle basket, but it made for a charming story.
We stopped to look at the Avon... which at least there in Salisbury looked more like a creek than a river to me, but was perfectly lovely. We followed a trail which afforded gorgeous views of the Cathedral complete with pastoral setting and sheep.
Every single English person we asked recommended Bath, so that's where we headed next.