Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Salisbury was my first. I was an ignorant 18 year old, just graduated from high school, spending the summer in Europe. My brother and I were on our way to Stonehenge and when we got to the town of Salisbury and we found that we had missed the bus. The next one wouldn't run for an hour. We noticed a spire looming over the town, and decided to go take a look. Finding a massive cathedral set in the middle of a park, we thought it would be worth exploring. In 1981, you couldn't enter through the main west portal, instead you entered on the west end, but off to the side. As I came in, it all felt very familiar, we were in the sort of vestibule that any Anglican church might have. Then we turned a corner and were in the nave. To this day, the feeling of absolute awe I felt has stayed with me. Only one other time, high in the Rocky Mountains, have I ever been so completely struck. On that trip we saw other cathedrals, Canterbury, Westminster Abbey, and St. Stephen's in Vienna, but, for me, that initial feeling of shock and joy will always belong to Salibury. We didn't catch the next bus either.
Salisbury, is unusual amongst cathedrals in that it was built entirely one building campaign and was happily spared major renovations in later centuries. There were no previous buildings on the site that could have constrained the plans. As a result it was built largely in a single style and has a unity that many cathedrals lack.
First exterior, michaelday_bath on flickr
Second exterior, Stephen McParlin (stephen_dedalus) on flickr
Nave, ajoh198 on flickr