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June 13, 2005
Running around the Chapter House is the carved medieval frieze depicting the first two books of the bible of superbly preserved stone carvings. We could pick out the story of Adam and Eve, the building of Noah’s Ark, the murder of Abel, and the tower of Babel to name but a few. If we’d have got a bit more time, we’d have studied it closer, but the guides are always willing to point out the better-known scenes. The tops of the marble columns are carved as representations of foliage with the odd bird or small animal hidden in the leaves. Typically, there are also a number of head carvings, some with classically grotesque expressions.
Around the Chapter House are numerous display cabinets with examples of the dioceses’ silverware, medieval manuscripts, early books, and original seals. We were told that the contents of these cabinets are often changed, so if you’re a regular visitor, there’s plenty to see.
Outside the Chapter House are the covered cloisters looking out onto a large grassy area with two large trees. Here are numerous grave markers (always an interesting read) and some superb views of the church spire. People are actively encouraged to spend time in this area, and although it was peaceful when we visited, the guide proudly stated that, in summer, people will bring picnics and enjoy each other’s company. Personally, I preferred the tranquillity! The trees apparently are a mixed blessing – they provide an interesting focal point and tantalisingly hide part of the cathedral’s grand architecture but are seen as a potential hazard for the safety of the building. Apparently, as the trees are growing on chalk, the roots run horizontally very close to the surface. Will they topple or start growing through the very fabric of the building? This is the question often asked – but the trees have age to them and don’t appear too hazardous.
The last stop as we left the cloisters was the cathedral shop and the modern café. I have to say that I had little interest in the shop, but my wife managed to wile away a few minutes examining the various souvenirs, which did seem to be of good quality.
From journal Salisbury - A Weekend Away
by GB from Devizes
Devizes, United Kingdom
February 22, 2005
It now houses one of the four remaining original Magna Carta documents from 1215, brought here by William Longspee, as well as many other treasures. The Magna Carta was a historic agreement made between King John and the barons at Runnymede. It established among other things that "no free man may be imprisoned or prosecuted without fair trial before his equals". It also states that "the church in England shall be free and shall have its rights undiminished and its liberties unimpaired". The basic principals of the Magna Carta have been incorporated into the Constitution of the USA, as well as several Commonwealth countries.
It also has a unique, carved medieval freize depicting scenes from the books of Genesis and Exodus, imcluding Adam and Eve, the building of the Ark, and Abel's murder at the hands of Cain.
Please be advised that security and the frailty of these ancient documents precludes any photography within this part of the cathedral.
From journal The Scintillating Jewel in Salisbury's Crown