1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Salisbury

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SALISBURY, a city and municipal and parliamentary borough, and the county town of Wiltshire, England, 831/4 m. W. by S. of London, on the London and South-Western and Great Western railways. Pop. (1901) 17,117. Its situation is beautiful. Viewed from the hills which surround it the city is seen to lie among flat meadows mainly on the north bank of the river Avon, which is here joined by four tributaries. The magnificent cathedral stands close to the river, on the south side of the city, the streets of which are in part laid out in squares called the “Chequers.” To the north rises the bare upland of Salisbury Plain.

The cathedral church of St Mary is an unsurpassed example of Early English architecture, begun and completed, save its spire and a few details, within one brief period (1220–1266). There is tradition, supported by probability, that Elias de Derham, canon of the cathedral (d. 1245), was the principal architect. He was at Salisbury in 1220–1229, and had previously taken part in the erection of the shrine of Thomas à Becket at Canterbury. The building is 473 ft. in extreme length, the length of the nave being 229 ft. 6 in., the choir 151 ft., and the lady chapel 68 ft. 6 in. The width of the nave is 82 ft. and the height 84 ft. The spire, the highest in England, measures 404 ft. (For plan, see Architecture: Romanesque and Gothic in England.) The cathedral, standing in a broad grassy close, consists of a nave of ten bays, with aisles and a lofty north porch, main transepts with eastern aisles, choir with aisles, lesser transepts, presbytery and lady chapel. The two upper storeys of the tower and the spire above are early Decorated. The west front, the last portion of the original building completed, bears in its rich ornamentation signs of the transition to the Decorated style. The perfect uniformity of the building is no less remarkable within than without. The frequent use of Purbeck marble for shafts contrasts beautifully with the delicate grey freestone which is the principal building material. In the nave is a series of monuments of much interest which-were placed here by James Wyatt, who, in an unhappy restoration of the cathedral (1782–1791), destroyed many magnificent stained-glass windows which had escaped the Reformation, and also removed two Perpendicular chapels and the detached belfry which stood to the north-west of the cathedral. One of the memorials is a small figure of a bishop in robes. This was long connected with the ceremony of the “boy bishop,” which, as practised both here and elsewhere until its suppression by Queen Elizabeth, consisted in the election of a choir-boy as “bishop” during the period between St Nicholas' and Holy Innocents' Days. The figure was supposed to represent a boy who died during his tenancy o the office. But such small figures occur elsewhere, and have been supposed to mark the separate burial-place of the heart. The lady chapel is the earliest part of the original) building, as the west end is the latest. The cloisters, south of the church, were built directly after its completion. The chapter-house is of the time of Edward I., a very line octagonal example, with a remarkable series of contemporary sculptures. The library contains many valuable MSS. and ancient printed books. The diocese covers nearly the whole of Dorsetshire, the greater part of Wiltshire and very small portions of Berkshire, Hampshire, Somersetshire and Devonshire.

There are three ancient parish churches: St Martin’s, with square tower and spire, and assessing a Norman font and Early English portions in the choir; St Thomas’s (of Canterbury), founded in 1240 as a chapel to the cathedral, and rebuilt in the 15th century; and St Edmund's, founded as the collegiate church of secular canons in 1268, but subsequently rebuilt in the Perpendicular period. The residence of the college of secular priests is occupied by the modern ecclesiastical college of St Edmund's, founded in 1873. St John's chapel, founded by Bishop Robert Bingham in the 13th century, is occupied by a dwelling-house. There is a beautiful chapel attached to the St Nicholas hospital. The poultry cross, or, high cross, an open hexagon with six arches and a central pillar, was erected by Lord Montacute before 1335: In the market-place is Marochetti’s statue to Sidney Herbert, Lord Herbert of Lea. The modern public buildings include the court-house, market, corn exchange and theatre. A park was laid out in 1887 to commemorate the jubilee of Queen Victoria, and in the same year a statue was erected to Henry Fawcett, the economist, who was born at Salisbury. Among remaining specimens of ancient domestic architecture may be mentioned the banqueting-hall of John Halle, wool merchant, built about 1470; and Audley House, belonging also to the 15th century, and repaired in 1881 as a diocesan church house. There are a large number of educational and other charities, including the bishop's grammar school, Queen Elizabeth's grammar school, the St Nicholas hospital and Trinity hospital, founded by Agnes Bottenham in 1379. Brewing, tanning, carpet-making and the manufacture of hardware and of boots and shoes are carried on, and there is a considerable agricultural trade. The city is governed by a mayor, 7 aldermen and 21 councillors. Area, 1710 acres.

History.—The neighbourhood of Salisbury is rich in antiquities. The famous megalithic remains of Stonehenge (q.v.) are not far distant. From Milford Hill and Fisherton many prehistoric relics have been brought to the fine Blackmore Museum in the city. But the site most intimately associated with Salisbury is that of Old Sarum, theOld Sarum. history of which forms the preface to that of the modern city. This is a desolate place, lying a short distance north of Salisbury, with a huge mound guarded by a fosse and earthworks. The summit is hollowed out like a crater, its rim surmounted by a rampart so deeply cut away that its inner side rises like a sheer wall of chalk 100 ft. high.

Old Sarum was probably one of the chief fortresses of the early Britons and was known to the Romans as Sorbiodunum. Cerdic, founder of the West Saxon kingdom, fixed his seat there in the beginning of the 6th century. Alfred strengthened the castle, and it was selected by Edgar as a place of national assembly to devise means of checking the Danes. Under Edward the Confessor it possessed a mint. The ecclesiastical importance of Old Sarum begins with the establishment of a nunnery by Edward the Confessor. Early in the 8th century Wiltshire had been divided between the new diocese of Sherborne and that of Winchester. About 920 a bishopric had been created at Ramsbury, east of Savernake Forest; to this Sherborne was joined in 1058 and in 1075/6 Old Sarum became the seat of a bishopric, transferred hither from Sherborne. Osmund, the second bishop, revised the form of communion service in general use, compiling a missal which forms the groundwork of the celebrated “Sarum Use.” The “Sarum Breviary” was printed at Venice in 1483, and upon this, the most widely prevalent of English liturgies, the prayer-books of Edward VI. were mainly based. Osmund also built a cathedral, in the form of a plain cross, and this was traceable in the very dry summer of 1834. Old Sarum could have afforded little room for a cathedral, bishops palace, garrison and townsfolk. The priests complained of their bleak and waterless abode, and still more of its transference to the keeping of lay castellans. Soldiers and priests were at perpetual feud; and after a licence had been granted by Pope Honorius III., it was decided to move down into the fertile Avon valley. In 1102 the notorious bishop, Roger Poore, by virtue of his office of sheriff, obtained custody of the castle and the grant of a comprehensive charter from Henry I. which confirmed and extended the possessions of the ecclesiastical establishment, annexed new benefactions and granted perpetual freedom in markets and fairs from all tolls and customs. This was confirmed by Henry II., John, and Henry III. With the building of New Sarum in the 13th century and the transference to it of the see, Old Sarum lapsed to the crown. It has since changed hands several times, and under James I. formed part of the property of the earldom of Salisbury. By the 16th century it was almost entirely in ruins, and in 1608 it was ordered that the town walls should be entirely demolished. The borough returned two members to parliament from 1295 until 1832 when it was deprived of representation by the Reform Act, the privilege of election being vested in the proprietors of certain free burgage tenures. In the 14th century the town appears to have been divided into aldermanries, the will of one John atte Stone, dated 1361, including a bequest of land within the aldermanry of Newton. In 11022 Henry I. granted a yearly fair for seven days, on August 14 and for three days before and after. Henry III. granted another fair for three days from June 28, and Richard II. for eight days from September 30.

The new city, under the name of New Sarum (New Saresbury, Salisbury) immediately began to spring up round the cathedral close. A charter of Henry III. in 1227 recites the removal from Old Sarum, the king’s ratification and his laying the foundation-stone of the church. It then grants and confirms to the bishops, canons and citizens,New Sarum. all liberties and free customs previously enjoyed, and declares New Sarum to be a free city and to constitute forever part of the bishop's demesne. During the three following centuries periodical disputes arose between the bishop and the town, ending generally, in the complete submission of the latter. One of these resulted in 1472 in the grant of a new charter by Edward IV. empowering the bishop to enforce the regular election of a mayor, and to make laws for governing the town. In 1611 the city obtained a charter of incorporation from James I. under the title of “mayor and commonalty” of the city of New Sarum, the governing body to consist of a mayor, recorder and twenty four aldermen, with power to make by-laws. This charter was renewed by Charles I. and confirmed by Cromwell in 1656. The latter recites that since the deprivation of archbishops and bishops, by parliament, the mayor and commonalty have bought certain possessions of the late bishop of New Sarum, together with fairs and markets. These it confirms, constitutes the town a city and county, subjects the close to its jurisdiction and invests the bailiff with the powers of a sheriff. In 1659 with the restoration of the bishops, the ancient charter of the city was revived and that of 1656 cancelled. In 1684 during the friction between Charles II. and the towns, Salisbury surrendered its charter voluntarily. Four years later in 1688 James II. restored to all cities their ancient charters, and the bishop continued to hold New Sarum as his demesne until 183 5.8 The Municipal Corporations Act of that year reported that Salisbury was still governed under the charter of 1611, as modified by later ones of Charles II., James II. and Anne.

In 1221 Henry III. granted the bishop a fair for two days from August 14, which in 1227 was prolonged to eight days. Two general fairs were obtained from Cromwell in 1656, on the Tuesday before Whit-Sunday and on the Tuesday in the second week before Michaelmas. In 1792 the fairs were held on the Tuesday after January 6, on the Tuesday and Wednesday after March 25, on Whit-Monday, on the second Tuesday in September, on the second Tuesday after October 10, and on the Tuesday before Christmas Day; in 1888 on July 15 and October 18; and now on the Tuesdays after January 6 and October 10. A large pleasure-fair was held until recently on Whit-Monday and Tuesday, but in 1888 this was reported as of bad character and it is now discontinued. A grant of a weekly market on Tuesday was obtained from Henry III. in 1227. In 1240 this privilege was being abused, a daily market being held, which was finally prohibited in 1361. In 1316 a market on Saturday was granted by Edward II. and in 1656 another on every second Tuesday by Cromwell. In 1769 a wholesale cloth market was appointed to be held yearly on August 24. In 1888 and 1891 the market days were Tuesday and Saturday. A great corn market is now held every Tuesday, a cattle market on alternate Tuesdays, and acheese market on the second Thursday in the month. Salisbury returned two members to parliament until 1885 when the number was reduced to one. As early as 1334 the town took part in foreign trade and was renowned for its breweries and woollen manufactories, and the latter industry continued until the 17th century, but has now entirely declined. Commercial activity gave rise to numerous confraternities amongst the various trades, such as those of the tailors, weavers and cutlers. The majority originated under Edward IV., though the most ancient—that of the tailors—was said to have been formed under Henry VI. and still existed in 1835. The manufacture of cutlery, once a flourishing industry, is now decayed.

See Victoria County History. Wiltshire; Sir R. C. Hoare, History of New Sarum (1843); and History of Old Sarum (1843).