THE SECRET SALISBURY WALK

This short circular walk of less than a mile takes in some of the history of Salisbury that even many locals don't know about. It includes the old medieval walls, a porch which was once part of the cathedral, the World War I war memorial and the 'secret garden', which is a beautiful place to wander through.


The Secret Garden in Salisbury
The Secret Garden is hidden away behind the Council Offices

1. Start at the Winchester Street mosaic (w3w: noble.craft.local)


It's not the most impressive start to a walk, but the concrete road towering in front of you is a vivid illustration of how this community was torn apart by the road planners of the 1970s, who ripped up some beautiful old buildings to create the permanent traffic jam that is the Salisbury inner ring road.

A close up of the Winchester Street Memorial
The Winchester Street Memorial

The Winchester Street Mosaic depicts life on this street in the early to mid 19th century, and includes this ditty which was pinned to the noticeboard of the Anchor & Hope pub, which you can see back down the road from where you are standing.


"Go to Mould's when you're hungry

The Anchor when you're dry

Go to Churchill's when you're tired

Go to Heaven when you die"


Read about life in Winchester Street, and an interpretation of the mosaic >>


Don't go underneath the road, instead turn left and walk through the narrow passageway which leads you out into The Greencroft. Try to ignore the graffiti (currently some choice words about Boris Johnson) and walk straight ahead. The houses on your left, numbers 18-24, are actually Grade II listed and are typical of the cottages which were once prevalent in this area.


The Greencroft has a fascinating history. Archaeological finds include a paleolithic axe and a few Saxon burials. Throughout the Middle Ages it was farmed, although it was also common land and people had the right to play and walk there. By the 16th century it was used for executions and for burying the poorer victims of the plague, who ended up in plague pits on the site. There was also a riot on the land in 1830 as a result of the Corn Laws. The tree lined avenue which runs down the diagonal of the park, was planted in 1897, probably for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubille.


These days it has a play park, a basket ball court and is used mainly by kids and dog walkers.

The play park and the avenue (they look much better in the summer!)


2. Follow the path which runs to the left of the kids play park, then take the right fork of the crossroads, which will lead you down the tree lined avenue.


Follow the avenue until you get to the road, which you will need to cross. (w3w: trees.bubble.wool). Turn right and then left down some steps (w3w: flap.detect.active)


This is a fairly obscure green part of Salisbury and one that even few locals know about. Directly in front of you is a stone porch, rather weather worn but still standing proudly. This was actually once a part of the cathedral, being a porch outside the north transept. Dating from the 15th century, it was removed by James Wyatt in 1791 as part of his extensive works to 'beautify' the cathedral (or vandalise it depending on your point of view).

The spirelet and pinacles were added to create this 'garden ornament' for the owners of Wyndham House (now called Bourne Hill House), which you can see in the distance on the other side of the porch.


3. Follow the path through the trees - this is the route of the medieval city ramparts, which were constructed in the 13th century. Originally only a ditch, work wasn't completed until the mid 15th century. What you see here is all that remains of these city walls, as they have been demolished over the years in every other location. Follow the path to the end - it is a lovely tree-lined walk. On your left, you will see Bourne Hill House, which you will get a chance to see close up at the end of the walk.



4. At end of the path is a memorial urn.


This dates from 1774 and was built as a monument commemorating the discovery of Saxon remains on the site. The stone plinth is in Latin. This area was once an early Anglo-Saxon burial ground.


Around you, you will see a few other random stone or brick relics, that must have once held significance, but whose purposes have been lost in the mists of time.


5. Keep following the path to the end and in front of you, you will see the Secret Garden.

The Secret Garden is maintained by volunteers, who have transformed the site from a run down, derelict council garden to the lovely space it is now. Originating from the 18th century, the gardens were designated in 1996 to commemorate Salisbury Councillors who have died whilst in office.


It consists of several small gardens, including a Poesy Garden, chequerboard herb garden, vegetable garden, pond and a sunken garden. All plants are native to the UK, and are planted to encourage wildlife. They often hold events, such as tea parties, in the garden, and have wildlife information sheets for children. (Find out more about the garden and events >>)


6. Leave the garden by the side entrance, directly by the church, and go into the church yard.


St. Edmunds is a 15th century church which was converted to the Salisbury Arts Centre in 1975. If it is open, it is a lovely space inside, with a cafe, art exhibitions and plenty of events on. This is the place to go if you fancy listening to live music while enjoying a leisurely meal, or to watch a film, play or stand up comedy act. They also run creative workshops and classes.

If it is closed then wander around the grounds. There are a few ivy clad tombs remaining, as well as a Grade II listed war memorial. It is a simple cross on a stepped plinth. The inscribed words, which are hard to read, are:


THIS CROSS

STANDS HERE IN SACRED MEMORY OF

THOSE WHO WENT FROM THIS

PARISH AND GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR THEIR

COUNTRY AND FOR THE WORLD’S FREEDOM

IN THE WORLD WAR OF 1914 - 1918

THEIR NAMES ARE EVER RECORDED

ON THE NATIONAL ROLL OF HONOUR

THE VICTORY OF BATTLE LANDETH NOT IN THE

MULTITUDE OF AN HOST BUT STRENGTH COMETH FROM HEAVEN


The old school and St Edmunds House plaque


Behind the war memorial is the old building of St Edmunds School. Built in 1860, it is a typical Victorian school building, and was a school until 1964, when St. Edmunds School moved to modern, purpose built premises in nearby Laverstock. On its right is St. Edmunds House and Church Hall, which was built in the 1920s.


7. Leave the Arts Centre grounds by the entrance on Bedwin Street (w3w: select.fled.defeat) and go through the stone porchway, back into the grounds of Bourne Hill. This is the main entrance to Bourne House, which is now council offices. To the right of the house as you look at it, walk through the forecourt and the stone gateway, and you can go into the grounds of the house - the view you saw from the cathedral porch.


Bourne House is a Grade II listed building which was built on the site and remains of St Edmund's College founded by Bishop de la Wyle in 1269. It was bought by the Wyndham family in 1660, who rebuilt in 1670.


From the grounds you can see two cast iron 19th century urns in the Greek revival style.


Bourne Hill House, the urn and the trough filled with ice


You will also see a stone trough, which dates from 1887. It was originally in the market place, erected by the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain & Cattle Trough Association. Over the years it moved around various locations in Salisbury, before ending up at Bourne Hill. It was lost for many years, until it was found in a car park by a member of Salisbury's Civic Society, who ensured it was returned to its previous location in Bourne Hill.


The side is inscribed with a quotation from Proverbs: “Open thy mouth for the dumb”.


The grounds of Bourne Hill are a nice place for a picnic or to explore.


8. Leave the grounds by the forecourt, and walk straight down Greencroft Street which is directly opposite (w3w: having.shift.agent).


Greencroft Street has a lovely mix of old buildings (more on these coming soon). At the end of the street on your left, is the Greencroft Street Mosaic. (w3w: descended.keys.teeth)

A close up of the Greencroft Street Mosaic
The Greencroft Street Mosaic

You can find an interpretation of the mosaic, telling you more about the lives of early residents, here >>


9. At the end of the road you have come back full circle on where you started - the Winchester Street Mosaic is just up the road to your left.



Staying in Salisbury? Read our Salisbury City Guide for full details on independently owned places to stay, eat and shop, as well as places to visit, walks to do and lots more.