powered by FreeFind





Salisbury in 1841

SALISBURY, or NEW SARUM, a city in Wiltshire, locally in the hundred of Underditch, but having separate jurisdiction, 85 miles from the General Post-office, London, by railroad to Basingstoke, and from thence by Overton and Andover.

This city had its origin in the thirteenth century. The bishop and canons of the cathedral, which was then within the fortifications of Old Sarum, being exposed to injury from the captains of that fortress, with whom they were at feud, determined to remove their church to another site ; and Herbert Pauper or Poore, who held the see, having obtained an indulgence from the pope determined on commencing a new church on the lands belonging to the see on the site of the present cathedral (A.D. 1220).

The inhabitants of Old Sarum being attached to their bishops and clergy, determined on removing also, and thus the city of New Sarum or Salisbury rose into existence. A charter granted by Henry III, making it ‘a free city,’ and giving to the inhabitants a fair and a market, contributed to its prosperity, and in the succeeding reigns several parliaments were held here. It was fortified by a wall and ditch ; and the erection of a bridge over the Avon at Harnham brought the great western road (which had previously passed through Old Sarum) through this town. Salisbury was the place of rendezvous for Richard III’s army on occasion of the duke of Buckingham’s rebellion : and that nobleman was brought here and beheaded in the market-place, A.D. 1483. During the protectorate of Cromwell (A.D. 1655), Salisbury was occupied by a band of 200 royalist insurgents under Sir Joseph Wagstaffe, who had come over from the Continent, Penruddock, Grove, Jones, and other gentlemen of Wiltshire, who seized the sheriff and judges then holding the assizes, and proclaimed Charles II king. The rising was speedily put down ; and the leaders, except Wagstaffe, who escaped, were executed.

The city, before the late alteration in its boundaries, occupied part of a peninsula formed by the river Avon on the west and south, and by the river Bourne on the east. The village of Fisherton Anger, now included in the municipal and parliamentary limits, is on the west side of the Avon, at the junction with that river of the united stream of the Wily and the Nadder, which meet at Bemerton, two miles west of their junction with the Avon. The principal part of the city lies immediately to the north of the extensive cathedral close, and comprehends the three parishes of St. Edmund, St. Thomas, and St. Martin : it consists of several streets regularly laid out at right angles to each other. Most of the houses are of brick, of comparatively modern erection, and several of them of handsome appearance. The paving and lighting of the town have been much improved of late years : and the principal streets have a stream of water from the rivers conducted through them by canals lined with brick. Fisherton Anger is on the road to Bath. South of the Avon is the suburban village of Harnnam on the Dorchester and Exeter road. The area and population of Salisbury, in 1831, were as follows :-











St. Edmund








St. Martin







St. Thomas







Cathedral Close







Old City of Salisbury







Fisherton parish (part of) conjectured



Milford tything (part of) conjectured



New City as determined by Boundary Act



The cathedral is considered one of the most beautiful in England. The close is entered by several ancient gates. The freedom of the cathedral from the encumbrance of contiguous buildings adds much to the imposing beauty of its appearance. The church consists of a nave and choir with two side aisles, a space on the east of the choir, and a Lady-chapel at the east end ; a large transept with an isle on its east side ; a smaller transept east of the former, with an aisle on its east side ; a central tower and spire ; a north porch, a muniment-room or vestry at the south end of the eastern transept ; cloisters, and a chapter-house. The principal dimensions are as follows :- Extreme length of the church without, 474 feet ; within, 450 feet, thus divided : nave, from the western door to the organ-screen, 229 feet ; choir and adjacent space from thence to the Lady-chapel, 151.5 feet ; Lady-chapel, 69.5 feet: width of west front, 112 feet ; breadth of nave and choir, 34 feet, or, with the aisles, 78 feet ; great transept, length without, 230 feet, within, 206 feet ; width, with aisle, 57 feet ; smaller transept, length within, 145 feet; breadth, with aisle, 44 feet : Lady-chapel, width, 37.25 feet : height within of the vaulting of the nave, choir, and transepts, 81 feet ; of the aisles and Lady-chapel, 40 feet ; height without to the top of the side aisles, 44 feet ; to the parapet of the church, 87 feet ; to the ridge of the roof, 115 feet ; to the parapet of the tower, 207 feet ; to the summit of the spire, 404 feet. The cloisters form a square of 181.75 feet within walls, and have a width of 18 feet between the side walls and windows ; the height of the vaulting is 18 feet. The chapter-house is an octagon of 58 feet diameter internally, and 52 feet in height to the vaulting. (Britton’s Salisbury Cathedral.)

‘This edifice has the advantage of being built in one style, the Early English, and from a uniform and well arranged plan. The tower and spire are of later date, but admirably accommodated to the style of the building. Modern alterations have taken away the altar-screen and town the Lady-chapel open to the choir : the organ-screen is also modern. In various parts of the church are several ancient monuments, some of which are very fine. On the whole this cathedral presents an object for study hardly equalled by any in the kingdom ; the purity of its style, and the various modes of adapting that style to the purposes required, deserve the most attentive consideration.’ (Rickman.)

The eastern end of the cathedral is of remarkable beauty ; but the west front is less pleasing, from its formal square outline. The spire is remarkable not only for its elevation, but for the curious and ingenious contrivance of its timber framework, and for the skill and boldness with which it was raised on a tower not designed originally to support such a burden. The episcopal palace is a large building of various dates and styles, with an extensive and tastefully laid out garden. There is in the cathedral close a college or almshouse for ten clergymen’s widows. The close is under civil jurisdiction of the bishop, recorder, and canons residentiary, who are justices. The three parish churches of the old city are large ; St. Edmund’s and St. Thomas’s are buildings of perpendicular date.

The other public buildings are the council-house, erected in 1795, and devoted to the use of the corporation and the business of the county : the spacious county gaol and bridewell, erected A.D. 1818 ; the infirmary, a plain and commodious building ; the Salisbury and Wiltshire library and news-room, with a small museum annexed to it ; a small theatre ; and several dissenting meeting-houses and almshouses.

The woollen manufacture, once extensively carried on here, has now much declined ; the manufacture of fine cutlery has also declined ; but the silk manufacture has been introduced with some success ; it employed, when the Municipal Corporation Commissioners made their report, 120 persons. There are markets, on Tuesday for corn, and every fortnight for cattle, and on Saturday for cheese and provisions : there are four yearly fairs, but they are falling into disuse,

Salisbury returned members to parliament from 23rd Edward I. The boundaries of the city were considerably enlarged by the Boundary Act, and the suffrage, previously much restricted, extended by the Parliamentary Reform Act. The number of electors on the register in 1834-5 was 650 ; in 1835-6, 689. By the Municipal Reform Act, the extended parliamentary boundaries were adopted for municipal purposes ; the city divided into three wards. The corporate body consists of six aldermen and eighteen councillors, having a commission of the peace. The summer assizes and the Easter sessions for the county are held here, also the city sessions and a court leet and court of record belonging to the bishop. Salisbury is the place of election and a polling-station. for the southern division of Wiltshire.

There were, in 1833, in the four parishes just enumerated, two infant-schools, with 164 children, partly supported by subscription or endowment ; a classical grammar-school, founded by Queen Elizabeth for 8 boys ; four other endowed day-schools, with 10 boys and 28 girls, with the choristers of the cathedral ; two ‘national’ schools, with 210 boys and 150 girls ; seventeen private boarding or day schools, with a number of children not ascertained ; and nine Sunday-schools, with about 1,400 children.