Covering over 80 acres, Salisbury has the largest Cathedral Close in Britain. It is a wonderful green space to escape the busy streets of Salisbury and to just explore and relax, with 21 Grade I listed buildings surrounding the magnificent cathedral, as well as museums and gardens.
Salisbury’s Cathedral Close is as old as the cathedral itself, being laid out in 1220 and used as a building site for the early part of its life and into the 14th century when the spire was added. It has always been somewhat separate to the rest of the city, with the construction of a wall on the north and east sides in 1327 – 1342, which is still there, with the River Avon acting as a natural boundary on the west.
While the cathedral was still being built, the land around it was divided into plots and given to the canons to build their ‘fair houses of stone’.
In the 18th century, James Wyatt was given the controversial task of transforming the Close.
He pulled down the bell tower, removed all of the gravestones as well as altering the interior of the cathedral. Originally, the population of the Close was originally completely ecclesiastical; now it is also home to the very wealthy as well.
There are several buildings in the Close which are open to the public; others you can only stand and peer through the wrought iron railings and admire their moss covered gabled roofs, mullioned windows and beautiful gardens. A mixture of architectural styles and designs, narrow alleyways that lead off to mysterious places and grassy lawns dotted with benches, the Close is a delightful place to spend a day immersed in history and beauty.