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Archive for the ‘Salisbury Cathedral’ Category

Salisbury Cathedral is running an action-packed free open evening Night Visions: An Evening at Salisbury Cathedral on Friday 17 May from 6.30pm to 10.00pm.  The event is part of Culture 24s nationwide Museums at Night initiative, the annual festival of late night openings when hundreds of museums, galleries and heritage sites open their doors for special evening events.

Salisbury Cathedral ToursDavid Coulthard, Director of Marketing and Visitor Services, said “Last year’s Night Visions was an extraordinary success with more than a thousand visitors enjoying a fabulous evening in the Cathedral with music, stories, special tours and hands on activities.  This year we’re doing even more and look forward to having a cathedral full of people joining in the fun.  Starting at 6.30pm we’ve devised three and a half fast moving hours of different activities to entertain and appeal to families and our younger and older visitors alike.  There are four elements to the evening: music, stories, tours and hands-on activities. Come along, we might just surprise you!”

Musical activities include a ‘come and sing’ workshop, a short performance by Salisbury Cathedral Junior Choir, and organ demonstrations. Outside, you can enjoy stories in the lantern-lit cloister garden, follow the special mystery object treasure hunts in both the cathedral and cloisters, and especially for children there’s a picture quiz on the medieval frieze in the Chapter House and historical costumes to try on – even have your photo taken with King John!  There’s a quirky history ‘Things-you-never-knew’ trail of the Cathedral and exhibitions of embroidery and copes.  ‘Hands-on’ activities include decorating beautiful illuminated letters and patterned candle-holders, or creating a collage using stone rubbings with a touch of gold leaf.  Or there’s decorating biscuits, ‘Have-a-go’ stonemasonry and even some medieval games.

For the more energetic there are swift ‘roof tour tasters’ to see some of the Cathedral’s roof spaces and get a brief taste of what our full tower tours are like.

And while you’re in the Cathedral Close, visit Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum for their Museums at Night event Music for All between 6.00pm  9.00pm. There’s live music from local music groups, meet historical figures behind Salisbury’s musical past, see the museum collections come to life, enjoy story-telling with Lizzie Bryant and gallery activities with artist Susie Gutteridge

Salisbury Cathedral link: http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk

Wessex Tours
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2015 – The 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta
The diversity of worldwide creativity to celebrate Magna Carta 800 is testament to it’s power and longevity. Thousands of events and activities are being organized for millions of people, all of whom have been touched by the events of 19th June, 2015. A Magna Carta Symphony will be performed, special exhibitions, lectures and conferences will be held. Magna Carta 800 is a global event to which the whole world is invited.

Magna CartaSalisbury Cathedral intends to re-display and re-present its Magna Carta in the newly-conserved Chapter House, safeguarding the document for the future and using the latest interpretation techniques to communicate Magna Carta’s historic background and modern significance to the many extra visitors it expects to welcome in 2015. It also hopes to conserve and repair the Cathedral’s medieval Cloisters where the Chapter House is located.

Brief background information on Magna Carta 1215
Magna Carta is one of the most celebrated documents in English history, regarded as the cornerstone of English liberty, law and democracy, and its legacy has been its enduring worldwide influence. It was written in Latin, the language of all official documents of the period, on a single skin of vellum (calfskin). It consists of 63 clauses written on 76 tightly packed lines, written with the standard medieval time and space-saving abbreviations. It is one of the most celebrated documents in English history whose importance cannot be exaggerated. It is often claimed to be the cornerstone of English liberty, law and democracy and its legacy has been its enduring and worldwide influence. The critical importance of the charter is that it imposed for the first time detailed written constraints on royal authority in the fields of taxation, feudal rights and justice, and limited unjust and arbitrary behaviour by the king. Magna Carta has become an icon for freedom and democracy throughout the world. The other surviving copies are held by the British Library and Lincoln Cathedral.

Stay updated. Preparations are underway for some truly memorable celebrations from a national bank holiday and a new bridge over the Thames to local street parties and tours

Salisbury Cathedral: http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/
Salisbury Museum: http://www.salisburymuseum.org.uk/
The events leading up to Magna Carta: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/middle_ages/magna_01.shtml

Follow us on Twitter for updates leading up to the anniversary: https://twitter.com/HisT0URies

Wessex Guided Tours
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Civilisations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31st (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day). Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.

Salisbury Cathedral New Year Fireworks

Salisbury Cathedral New Year Celebration Fireworks

Early New Year’s Celebrations

The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal equinox—the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness—heralded the start of a new year. They marked the occasion with a massive religious festival called Akitu (derived from the Sumerian word for barley, which was cut in the spring) that involved a different ritual on each of its 11 days. In addition to the new year, Atiku celebrated the mythical victory of the Babylonian sky god Marduk over the evil sea goddess Tiamat and served an important political purpose: It was during this time that a new king was crowned or that the current ruler’s divine mandate was symbolically renewed.

Throughout antiquity, civilisations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars, typically pinning the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event. In Egypt, for instance, the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius. The first day of the Chinese new year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice.

A move from March to January

The celebration of the new year on January 1st is a relatively new phenomenon. The earliest recording of a new year celebration is believed to have been in Mesopotamia, c. 2000 B.C. and was celebrated around the time of the vernal equinox, in mid-March. A variety of other dates tied to the seasons were also used by various ancient cultures. The Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Persians began their new year with the fall equinox, and the Greeks celebrated it on the winter solstice.

Early Roman Calendar: March 1st Rings in the New Year

The early Roman calendar designated March 1 as the new year. The calendar had just ten months, beginning with March. That the new year once began with the month of March is still reflected in some of the names of the months. September through December, our ninth through twelfth months, were originally positioned as the seventh through tenth months (septem is Latin for “seven,” octo is “eight,” novem is “nine,” and decem is “ten.”

January Joins the Calendar

The first time the new year was celebrated on January 1st was in Rome in 153 B.C. (In fact, the month of January did not even exist until around 700 B.C., when the second king of Rome, Numa Pontilius, added the months of January and February.) The new year was moved from March to January because that was the beginning of the civil year, the month that the two newly elected Roman consuls—the highest officials in the Roman republic—began their one-year tenure. But this new year date was not always strictly and widely observed, and the new year was still sometimes celebrated on March 1.

Julian Calendar: January 1st Officially Instituted as the New Year

In 46 B.C. Julius Caesar introduced a new, solar-based calendar that was a vast improvement on the ancient Roman calendar, which was a lunar system that had become wildly inaccurate over the years. The Julian calendar decreed that the new year would occur with January 1, and within the Roman world, January 1 became the consistently observed start of the new year.

Middle Ages: January 1st Abolished

In medieval Europe, however, the celebrations accompanying the new year were considered pagan and unchristian like, and in 567 the Council of Tours abolished January 1 as the beginning of the year. At various times and in various places throughout medieval Christian Europe, the new year was celebrated on Dec. 25, the birth of Jesus; March 1; March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation; and Easter.

Gregorian Calendar: January 1st Restored

In 1582, the Gregorian calendar reform restored January 1 as new year’s day. Although most Catholic countries adopted the Gregorian calendar almost immediately, it was only gradually adopted among Protestant countries. The British, for example, did not adopt the reformed calendar until 1752. Until then, the British Empire —and their American colonies— still celebrated the new year in March.

For more New Year’s features see New Year’s Traditions and Saying “Happy New Year!” Around the World.

Read more: A History of the New Year — Infoplease.com
http://www.history.com/topics/new-years

Did you know ?In order to realign the Roman calendar with the sun, Julius Caesar had to add 90 extra days to the year 46 B.C. when he introduced his new Julian calendar”

Wessex Tours – Making History!
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An adaptation of William Golding’s powerful novel dramatising the building of the spire of Salisbury Cathedral in the 14th century is full of strong performances, writes Jane Shilling.

The Spire, an adaptation of William Golding's novel of the same name, performed at Salisbury Playhouse.

The Spire, an adaptation of William Golding’s novel of the same name, performed at Salisbury Playhouse.

The spire of Salisbury cathedral rears over the city, its apex surmounted by an oddly festive bobble of red light. The novelist William Golding lived and taught in Salisbury for many years and his novel, The Spire, imagines the building of the great pinnacle — the tallest in England — which was added to the original structure in 1320, a century after the foundation stone was laid.

Its construction was a miracle of faith over physics. The land on which the cathedral stood was swampy, and the foundations seemed insufficient to support the additional weight. Golding’s novel imagines the spire as the vision of a driven man, Dean Jocelin, who believes that he has been commanded by God to build it to glorify Him and bring the congregation closer to heaven.

As in all acts of spiritual conviction, there is a fine tension between the exaltation of God and Jocelin’s sinful human pride. Golding’s novel brilliantly conveys this by means of Jocelin’s interior monologue. Roger Spottiswoode, who has adapted Golding’s novel for the stage, has a harder task.

Gareth Machin, the artistic director of the Salisbury Playhouse, sets his production on an all-but-bare black set of cloistral simplicity, beautifully lit by Philip Gladwell to define the sharp angles of stone and flesh – we see mortality as a constant haunting presence in the skulls so clearly visible beneath the actors’ skins.

Mark Meadows as Dean Jocelin is the image of a man in whom spiritual and temporal desires are irreconcilably and, in the end, fatally at war. He is able to override the doubts of his brethren at the Cathedral by sheer force of will, combined with the wealth of his aunt Lady Alison (a spirited performance by Sarah Moyle) who takes a highly pragmatic attitude to atoning for the sins of the flesh committed in her youth by putting the riches thus acquired to holy use. The scene in which she explains to her nephew the venal means by which his early preferment came about is a fine study in tragic-comic devastation.

Strong performances by the supporting cast, particularly Vincenzo Pellegrino as the master mason, Roger, animate this gallant essay in dramatising Golding’s vastly complex fiction. So powerful a presence is the cathedral in the drama that it would be perverse not to combine a visit to the play with a trip to the beautiful building that inspired it.

Full article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/theatre-reviews/9672496/The-Spire-Salisbury-Playhouse-review.html

Link: http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/news.php?id=682

Until Nov 24. Tickets:             01722 329333      ;
www.salisbury playhouse.com

On Friday 16 November, 7.30pm – 9.00pm, the Dean of Salisbury, the Very Revd June Osborne, and Gareth Machin, the play’s director, can be heard in conversation as they explore Golding’s tale of Jocelin’s vision in the very location itself, sitting underneath the spire. There will also be readings from the novel and an opportunity to ask questions. Themes include: Jocelin’s vision – was it foolish or inspired? Golding’s juxtaposition of faith and science, the challenges of staging ‘The Spire’ – and the challenges of maintaining the real spire.
Tickets, £8.00 (adults) and £2.50 (students) for ‘A burning will….exploring The Spire’ are available online from http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk here or from Salisbury Playhouse box office,            01722 320333      . All proceeds towards the Cathedral’s Major Repair Programme.

Special tower and floor tours at Salisbury Cathedral focussing on what really happened when the 6500 tonnes tower and spire were added take place on Saturdays 3, 10 and 24 November, and Monday 5, Tuesday 13 and Thursday 22 November.
‘The Spire’ tower tours, £10.00 (£8.00 concessions), begin at 2.15pm (allow 90 minutes) Pre-booking essential online at: http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk here or telephone            01722 555156      .
Floor tours begin at 11.00am (allow 60 minutes) No booking or tickets required – just turn up. Visitors are requested to make a donation to help towards the fabric of the Cathedral.

Further information:
Salisbury Cathedral special events based on ‘The Spire’:

Sarah Flanaghan,             01722 555148       /             07771 510811       or s.flanaghan@salcath.co.uk
Salisbury Playhouse production of The Spire
Gemma Twiselton,             01722 320117       or press@salisburyplayhouse.com
Salisbury Playhouse production of The Spire can be seen from 1 – 24 November, box office            01722 320333      .

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Christmas Market

Salisbury will be hosting its first ever Christmas Market from 29 November. The Christmas Market will be taking place in the ancient Market Place in front of the city’s magnificent Guildhall.
55 beautiful chalets will be tempting visitors with stunning quality products, ideal for those who wish to find an ideal gift.

CSalisbury Christmas Marketome to Salisbury’s gorgeous new Christmas Market!

You will find it to be one of the prettiest, loveliest and most tasteful Christmas Markets in the country. With beautifully decorated chalets, inspiring and desirable gifts and gourmet foods, a warm welcome from stall holders, a Father Christmas Grotto, a spectacular lantern procession, and traditional music by local choirs and schools to serenade you while you shop, we hope we have all the ingredients for the perfect traditional Christmas.

Times & Dates  
Opening Times:   10am – 6pm
Daily  10am – 7pm    Thursday, Friday & Saturday

On the first day, the Christmas Market will open at 10am and stay open until 8pm with a big Opening Ceremony from 6pm onwards.   Closes: Sunday 16th December

About Salisbury:
Salisbury is located in the East of Wiltshire, right next to Salisbury Plain. Established in 1220 with a history settlement preceding this, the city was named Salesberie at this time. The first Cathedral was built around 1075. This was however re-sited. It has been said that an arrow was fired and the newer cathedral was built upon this spot! The cathedral holds an the best preserved copy of the Magna Carta 1275.

The town has a very vibrant nightlife with many lovely traditional pubs and modern bars. We cater for every age group and the town has a nice relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

There are many things to do in and around Salisbury. Only a few minutes away from the busy city centre, you can take a peaceful walk in the pleasant parkland. There are paths trailing through the water meadow. With an abundance of wildlife you are able to lose yourself in nature and view the beautiful Cathedral in the close distance. Or if you fancy a walk, meandre across the Water Meadow until you each the Old Mill. Now transformed into a restaurant and hotel!

Salisbury is also very close to the ancient Stonehenge! With a history dating back well over 5000 years, the Henge attracts many visitors each year and is an obvious pace of our proud English Heritage

For full details please visit www.salisburychristmasmarket.co.uk
Tourist Information: http://salisburytouristinformation.co.uk/

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VisitWiltshire has launched a new handy sized Wiltshire Downs & Market Towns pocket guide and map, offering helpful information as part of an on-going campaign to attract and retain visitors to the county.
Wilsthire White Horse

The 24-page pocket guide details a host of attractions and activities to suit all ages, with information about events and festivals, food and drink, history and heritage, and the great outdoors.

David Andrews Chief Executive of VisitWiltshire highlighted the need for the guide: “This new guide is all part of the work we’re doing to celebrate the diversity of the county’s tourism product and to raise the profile of Wiltshire as a must-see holiday destination.  This is a new title for us and I’m particularly pleased that we’ve had such strong support in producing this guide from the local travel industry.”

The Wiltshire Downs are home to some of the UK’s most exciting and iconic attractions including:

The White Horses cut into the chalk hillside
The Ridgeway long distance path, which has been called the oldest road in Britain
Crofton Pumping Station, which houses the oldest working beam engine in the world
Caen Hill locks, arguably the most impressive flight of locks in the UK
Avebury, one of the most important Megalithic monuments in Europe consisting of 200 standing stones in two great circles.  This is combined with a massive bank and ditch which covers more than 28 acres
The new guide is split into clear sections making it easy for visitors to find just what they are looking for.  Amongst the highlights are events listings, suggestions for days out and plenty of pages dedicated to food and drink.  There is also a map showing the location of each individual attraction and activity.

David Dawson, Chair of Devizes Area Tourism Partnership and Director of Wiltshire Heritage Museum said, “We are delighted that VisitWiltshire has produced this timely new Wiltshire Towns & Market Towns Pocket Guide.  Given all the changes to tourism in Devizes lately it’s fantastic to see VisitWiltshire proactively targeting new visitors in this way, informing them of the best to see and do in the area.  Many of our attractions are now acting as mini tourist information centres and will be stocking the guide for anyone to use.”

As well as local circulation, the print run of 30,000 copies will be distributed proactively as part of VisitWiltshire’s marketing drive to bring additional visitors to the county.  Additional content is available to visitors online at www.visitwiltshire.co.uk.

Copies of the free ‘Pocket Guide and Map’ are available from VisitWiltshire by calling 0845 602 7323 or can be downloaded from the internet by visiting www.visitwiltshire.co.uk.

 The Best Tours in Wessex
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 The weather may not be anything to write a postcard home about – but the West’s tourism industry enjoyed a twin boost yesterday.

Key visitor attractions featured prominently in the first global TV adverts for a decade and new research showed up to 17 million Brits will holiday at home this year.

VisitBritain, the national tourism agency, yesterday unveiled its international TV campaign to attract overseas visitors to the country.

The adverts will be screened around the world, and include Stonehenge, Glastonbury and the Cotswolds.

Stonehenge is already in the spotlight because of the summer solstice, and VisitBritain say the UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most important prehistoric monuments on the planet.

As well as the 5,000-year-old site, there are money Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in the surrounding landscape, and Avebury, the largest stone circle in Europe, is nearby.

Glastonbury is synonymous with the annual music festival taking place at the weekend, with international superstars such as U2, Coldplay and Beyonce, as well as theatre and circus performers and much more.but VisitBritain also point to the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey, and the iconic Tor, along with myths and legends about the Isle of Avalon, King Arthur, Joseph of Arimathea and the Holy Grail.

The agency adds: “For many visitors, the Cotswolds represent everything that is quintessentially ‘English’, with villages and churches of honey-coloured limestone set among gentle hillsides, cottage gardens, beech woods and drystone walls.”

Historic sites include Sudeley Castle and Chedworth Roman Villa, while VisitBritain urges tourists to sample local produce such as Gloucester Old Spot pork, Tewkesbury mustard and the famous Cotswold cheeses.

Other locations in the TV adverts include London landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament and St Paul’s Cathedral, the Lake District, Snowdon in Wales, Edinburgh Castle and the Highlands.

Celebrities such as actress Dame Judi Dench, fashion icon Twiggy and chef Jamie Oliver – who has restaurants in Bath and Bristol with another opening in Cheltenham this summer – star in them.

The campaign kicks off a major marketing push that seeks to build on the global impact of the Royal Wedding, with the Olympics next year also guaranteeing the international spotlight.

It will concentrate on the current most important tourism markets, such as the US and Western Europe, and the big growth areas for the future, including China and India.

VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe said: “This is our first global TV campaign for 10 years and marks the start of an ambitious marketing programme. With the eyes of the world on us, we have an opportunity to showcase Britain and then to close the sale with great travel deals and offers from our partners.

“This campaign aims to inspire visitors to come and explore for themselves. Over four years, we aim to attract four million extra overseas visitors, who will spend £2 billion across Britain.”

Meanwhile a new survey has found nearly 40 per cent of Britons will stay at home this summer as families strive to balance household finances.

Many of them will instead enjoy ‘staycations’, with the West sure to cash in.

The poll was carried out for savings bank ING Direct, and chief executive Richard Doe said: “It’s not surprising that the summer holiday is often being sacrificed.”

Visiting Britain ? Visit the West Country!

Wessex Tour Guide
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The Festival returns in 2011 with a packed programme of theatre, dance, circus, film, music and spoken word in locations around the historic city.

On the Festival’s opening night the sky becomes a stage in a performance by world famous Argentine company Voalà.The programme also includes a new music commission, WhereTwo Worlds Touch; outdoor performances of classic Shakespeare;and a performance by Jasmin Vardimon Company.

Read Salisbury International Arts Festival Brochure 2011 – Download

This year’s programme will reflect a focus on the themes of China, Dance and Air, and events will take place across the region in locations as diverse as Salisbury Cathedral, Old Wardour Castle and Stonehenge.

Background to Salisbury Festival
The Festival blazed into life in July 1973. Since then, over a million people have enjoyed outstanding performances of theatre, dance, film and every kind of music, plus literary events and the visual arts. From mid-May to early June each year, the beautiful historic city of Salisbury is transformed as people flock to the Festival, enjoying both ticketed events and free performances

If you are in the UK during May and June this year why not come and stay in Salisbury during this wonderful event.  Even take a tour to Stonehenge ?

http://www.salisburyfestival.co.uk/

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A new film about King John further underlines history’s judgement of the medieval English monarch as a cruel tyrant. But among the dozens of bad kings and despots, why is John always the pantomime villain?

Paul Giamatti is the latest to play King John as a villain in Ironclad

Paul Giamatti is the latest to play King John as a villain in Ironclad

Surrendering lands in France, forced into a humiliating climbdown with the nobility and excommunicated by the Church. Not to mention being blamed for the murder of his nephew.

The medieval reign of King John has been characterised by disaster and his reputation languishes among the lowest for all the kings and queens of England.

This poor standing is illustrated by his persistently negative appearances in British cultural life 800 years on. Depictions on television, stage and big screen, particularly in Robin Hood films, usually present a man who is treacherous and weak.

In 1938’s The Adventures of Robin Hood, John (played by Claude Rains) is an overtaxing oppressor, while Disney’s Robin Hood showed John as a cowardly lion sucking his thumb.

A new film Ironclad, released in the UK on Friday, stars American actor Paul Giamatti as the villainous king laying siege to the noble barons in Rochester Castle, in the civil war that followed the signing of Magna Carta.

So why do we always like to bash King John?

Make no mistake, he was a bad king, says John Hudson, of the Institute of Medieval Studies at the University of St Andrews.

“He was a very considerable failure as a king. He loses a large amount of possessions inherited, in particular lands in France, like Normandy and Anjou. He manages to surrender his realm to the pope and ends up facing a huge baronial rebellion, a civil war and a war with France. In terms of failures, he is one of the worst kings.”

And his unpleasant personality compounds his mistakes, says Professor Hudson. Trying to seize control of the throne while his brother, King Richard I, was imprisoned abroad, lost him the trust of the people long before he became king himself.

“A lot of very effective medieval kings are cruel and inspire fear but he hasn’t inspired trust. For people to trust a king and fear him is essential but people don’t trust him.

“People wanted someone to be heroic and not to interfere with their lives. But John was a king who did interfere and wasn’t heroic.”

But it’s simplistic to portray John as simply evil and Richard good, like in some of the Robin Hood films, he says. At least The Lion in Winter, starring Katharine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole as John’s parents Eleanor and Henry II, portrays the family tensions acutely and gives a sense of the personal power struggles within the Plantagenet dynasty.

John grew up in a feuding family. He was born in Oxford in 1166, the youngest and favourite son of Henry II. When John was five, three of his brothers plotted against their father to seize the throne, enlisting the help of Louis VII of France and their own mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine.

The rebellion was short-lived but Henry II punished his wife by imprisoning her for 16 years. On Henry’s death in 1189, John’s brother Richard became king but he nominated his nephew, Arthur, as heir. John tried unsuccessfully to instigate a coup while his brother was in prison, captured on his way back from fighting the Crusades.

The popular image of John as a cruel tyrant began a few years after his death in 1216, after a turbulent 17 years on the throne. The chronicles of Roger Wendover, a historian and monk at St Albans, and his successor Matthew Paris, included many accounts of cruelty that have since been questioned.

‘John the punchbag’

The Tudors were more sympathetic to him, although Shakespeare’s The Life and Death of King John provides a mixed portrayal of the monarch as treacherous and ruthless, but also patriotic in standing up to Rome.

But it was the Victorians who made King John the pantomime villain he is today, says Paul Sturtevant, who is researching Hollywood depictions of the medieval period, at the University of Leeds.

“The Victorians used King John as a punchbag. Prior to the 18th and 19th Century, Robin Hood was not put in a historical place. It wasn’t about the monarch at all, just Robin Hood and his adventures.

“So the Robin Hood stories being placed in John’s reign is a recent thing. He’s portrayed as a pantomime villain because a number of accounts from the time suggest that people found him quite unpleasant as a person. So the question is to what degree those sources are accurate.”

The Victorians latched on to John’s moral failings like his cruelty and his sexual deviancy, taking mistresses married to barons, and this repulsed their newly-formed idea of medieval knights as perfect gentlemen.

“To the Victorian mindset, he was everything they didn’t want in an English king. They re-imagined the period in terms of courtly love and chivalry.”

Most historians would agree he was quite a bad king but whether he was a caricature of evil is another question entirely, he says.

King John at Runnymede John’s most famous moment is signing the Magna Carta

“Almost all the depictions of King John out there are Robin Hood ones and as a result he’s the villain, either bumbling and idiotic or in the Disney animation he’s a lion who sucks his thumb. He’s infantile, with a snake as a patsy.”

The truth is that he was an inept politician but he wasn’t a tyrant, says Mr Sturtevant. His conflicts were not with his subjects but with barons, the Pope or the French.

“I see him a bit like Barack Obama in so far as he inherited a nightmare situation from his predecessor but because he was a bad politician he didn’t help himself to get out of it.

“Richard still has a really good reputation as the heroic lion-hearted king but he spent only six months of his life in England and the rest either on crusade in Holy Land or at war in France.”

To pay for his foreign wars, not to mention a huge ransom when he was captured, Richard had raised taxes far higher than any level England had experienced. By the time John was crowned king, the cupboard was bare, but his fiscal demands led to unrest.

Mike Ibeji, who researched King John for Simon Schama’s History of Britain on the BBC, says it was in the interests of those who put John’s successor Henry III on the throne to portray him negatively. King John was very unlucky, he says, but he also made his own bad luck.

There are several times during John’s reign where he actually has the upper hand, where he’s in a position where if he just does things the right way, he’s going to end up succeeding in what he’s trying to do.

“But he always overplays his hand and goes too far because he’s in a position of power and can’t rein back. So he doesn’t have a sense of scale and that’s his biggest problem.”

For example, he quelled a rebellion in France but when his nephew and enemy Arthur then dies in his custody, the finger of suspicion points at John and the revulsion felt in France renews the revolt and leads to defeat. A kingdom that once stretched from the Scottish border to the Pyrenees was falling apart.

What John will always be remembered for, apart from antagonising Robin Hood, is signing Magna Carta, which limited royal power and restated English law. And some of his defenders say that at least he provoked the barons into introducing one of history’s most famous documents.

In the History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Winston Churchill wrote: “When the long tally is added, it will be seen that the British nation and the English-speaking world owe far more to the vices of John than to the labours of virtuous sovereigns; for it was through the union of many forces against him that the most famous milestone of our rights and freedom was in fact set up.”
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-12603356

Visit Salisbury Cathedral in Wiltshire on a private guided tour and view the original Magna Carta

Salisbury and Stonehenge Tour Guide
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Things that go bump in the night at Salisbury Guildhall
Strange noises heard at Salisbury’s Guildhall whilst restoration work is being carried out have encouraged stories that the building is haunted.

Salisbury Guildhall

Salisbury Guildhall

 

Those working at the centuries-old building in Market Walk in the city have reported unexplainable knocking and rattling sounds.

The building has long been rumoured to be haunted.

The Guildhall of today is the fourth such building to occupy this position within the City of Salisbury.

The first Guildhall dates back to Tudor times, when it was known as “The Bishop’s Guildhall”.

Then, the building was under the control of the Bishop, from where he exercised his feudal rights of criminal and civil justice.

Civil War

Salisbury was relatively isolated from the Civil War but there were a few occasions in which skirmishes took place. One such incident took place at the Guildhall in March 1655.

The Cavalier Colonel Penruddock’s rebels stormed the building and kidnapped the Assize judges and the High Sheriff of the county, and freed the inmates of the gaol.

This building is steeped in history and it has seen some things in its time and I imagine there’s one or two people still left in there who should have maybe left a while ago
Claire Burden, Salisbury City Council

It is said that the sounds of gunshots and screaming have been heard in the building ever since.

Salisbury City Council’s business manager, Claire Burden, who is overseeing the £1.3m renovation of the Guildhall said: “The building has a lovely friendly atmosphere but other people have come in in the past and said ‘oooh there’s something in here’ and now our builders have reported hearing rattling doors and creaking floorboards and all that sort of stuff in there.

“This building is steeped in history and it has seen some things in its time and I imagine there’s one or two people still left in there who should have maybe left a while ago.

“They’re all welcome to stay. It’s part of what keeps this building wonderful and what keeps people interested in it!”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/wiltshire

Salisbury Ghost Tours
SALISBURY CITY GUIDES is a grouping of individual professional tourist board qualified Blue Badge guides committed to tourism in Salisbury, England and to the surrounding area. We have an entertaining range of walks and tours of interest, both to the general visitor and the specialist, which we can tailor to specific requirements. We welcome enquiries from groups needing a special service to accommodate disability, to cater for a particular interest, or to enhance an existing itinerary.
They offer two tours of Salisbury:

THE CITY WALK . This 1½ hour guided tour will take you through the centre of the city to the Cathedral Close. Along the way your guide will tell you about the origins of the mediaeval city, its history and the reasons for its prosperity. They will draw your attention to buildings and monuments of architectural and historical interest, and link them to some of the City’s characters.

THE GHOST WALK. Let the guide introduce you to a cast of past inhabitants and the reason why they find it impossible to leave.
Click here: http://www.salisburycityguides.co.uk/

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