Archive for May 9th, 2010

Since its initial publication in 1989 The Pillars of the Earth has been a hugely popular book at Salisbury Cathedral. It is full of drama and intriguing characters but it is also packed with carefully researched historical detail and lovingly tells the story of the building of a beautiful medieval cathedral not unlike Salisbury. The fictitious Kingsbridge created by Ken Follett is in the West Country, not far from the real city of Salisbury, early in the book Tom Builder even seeks work at the original cathedral at Old Sarum. As The Pillars of the Earth became an international best seller we began to meet more and more visitors who had been inspired to visit us by the book, from the UK but also from America, Germany and many other countries.

Many of our clients have read this book before visiting the area which greatly enhances their appreciation of Old Sarum and Salisbury Cathedral.  The announcement that the book is to be turned into a feature lenght film this year is great news for tourism in Wiltshire and for those who have visited or toured with us in the past.  Please take the time to read Ken Follet’s blog.

In 2008, as Salisbury was in the midst of celebrating its 750th anniversary year, Tandem Communications made contact with exciting news about a film of the book. A visit to Salisbury led to closer links, special effects shooting at the Cathedral and eventually a partnership. This section of our website holds a wealth of information about the film including images, video diaries and Ken Follett’s blogs. It will build as the international TV screening of the 8 hour film – starring Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Matthew Macfadyen, Eddie Redmayne, Hayley Atwell, Sarah Parish, Donald Sutherland, Alison Pill and Gordon Pinsent – moves closer.

The Salisbury Link to The Pillars of the Earth

Salisbury Cathedral was built in just 38 years in the 13th Century. This was quick for a medieval cathedral, and took place less than 100 years after the fictional Kingsbridge Cathedral was built in a similarly rapid timescale. The two buildings demonstrate a wealth of architectural parallels, notably the Gothic arches and rows of narrow, pointed ‘lancet’ windows, and Ken Follett has written about how Salisbury Cathedral was one of his inspirations as he researched The Pillars of the Earth.

The director of The Pillars of the Earth, Sergio Mimica-Gezzan, visited Salisbury Cathedral in 2008 and spent time taking detailed notes about the building as well as receiving input from our Consultant Archaeologist, Tim Tatton Brown. Special effects photographers followed in October 2009, meaning that elements of the real Salisbury Cathedral will be seen on screen, woven into the stunning location photography shot in Hungary and Austria, when the 8 hour film makes its TV debut in 2010.

A fabulous personal link between Cathedral and film became apparent as location shooting began when David Oakes, who plays the evil William Hamleigh, mentioned that as well as being educated at Bishop Wordsworth School in the Salisbury Cathedral Close he was also the son of a current Canon of Salisbury Cathedral – Jeremy Oakes!

The book revolves around the building of a beautiful medieval cathedral, built to the glory of God. As the modern day Salisbury Cathedral continues to the serve the purpose for which it was built, a current generation of craftsmen keeps the skills practiced by Tom Builder and Jack Jackson alive as they work to protect, restore and safeguard the building’s beauty for future generations.

Keep checking back as the airing of the film moves closer for more parallels, and some interesting differences, between the fictional Kingsbridge and the real Salisbury Cathedral!


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