Archive for the ‘Salisbury Cathedral’ Category

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 ?


Stonehenge and Salisbury Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in Wessex

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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.”

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

Salisbury and Stonehenge Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in History

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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!”


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/

Stonehenge Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in History

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Filming in Wiltshire

Wiltshire is a perfect loction for film and television productions. Working with South West Screen, VisitWiltshire and Wiltshire Council seek to encourage new productions and film making in the area, making it a very ‘film friendly’ part of England. Film Friendly

Wiltshire is a favourite with filmmakers, taking centre stage in a whole range of productions from swashbuckling adventures to Jane Austin classics. Wiltshire continues to be popular with television and film crews, making an ideal location for anything from traditional period dramas to gothic horror films featuring Hollywood stars.

The county was used as the backdrop in productions such as The Wolfman, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and Creation, as well as TV series such as Lark Rise to Candleford and Tess of the D’Urbervilles.

Wilton House (photo: Will Pryce)Anyone who enjoyed the cinema version of Pride and Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, will recognise not only Wilton House – which doubled as Pemberley, the family seat of Mr Darcy – but also the magnificent gardens at Stourhead, where Lizzie initially rejects his proposal of marriage.

Filming The Young Victoria at WiltonThe film on the life of Queen Victoria: Momentum Pictures’ The Young Victoria, features Wilton House. Wilton was used to double for Rosenau Castle, Prince Albert’s Coburg and Buckingham Palace.

The National Trust’s Mompesson House in Salisbury’s Cathedral Close achieved celebrity status as the London home of Mrs Jennings in the 1995 Oscar-winning version of Sense and Sensibility, when the leading parts were played by Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman. Wilton House’s Double Cube room was also used for ballroom scenes in the film.

Channel 4's Team Team at Salisbury Cathedral
Salisbury Cathedral took centre stage in the TV production of Mr Harvey Lights a Candle and Old Wardour Castle experienced some modern-day drama when it was used for the filming of Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, while other starring roles have been played by Breamore House and Church (Thomas Hardy’s The Woodlanders); Heale House (The Portrait of a Lady) and Houghton Lodge (The Buccaneers and Agatha Christie’s Murder at the Vicarage).

Stonehenge is an iconic location – used in the BBC production of Tess of the D’Urbervilles; the lake at Fonthill Bishop was used in the film Chocolat, and Trafalgar House near Salisbury has been used for several films including Amazing Grace.

Filming Cranford at LacockThe village of Lacock, with its cottages and inns dating back to the 15th century was the backdrop to the recent BBC production of Cranford. The village is much admired by film makers; the National trust village and nearby Abbey has played host to a variety of classic films and costume dramas including Pride and LacockPrejudice, Harry Potter and the 2008 film production of The Other Boleyn Girl.

Castle Combe has been called the “prettiest village in England”. A favourite with film makers this stunning village is located at the southern tip of the Cotswolds. The village has played host to many filming productions, the most famous of these being Doctor Doolittle filmed in and around the village in 1966, and recently the village had a major role in Stardust and The Wolf Man.

Lark Rise to Candleford (photo: BBC)Pride and Prejudice was also filmed at Luckington Court, Chippenham, the BBC Tess of the D’Urbervilles was also filmed in Corsham, Walk Away and I Stumble for ITV was filmed in Calne and Chippenham, and North Wiltshire is also the location for the BBC’s Lark Rise to Candleford. The unspoilt streets of  Bradford on Avon make the town a perfect location for films. Scenes from the Charles Darwin biopic, Creation, were filmed in the town.

Longleat house and safari park has been used for a number of film productions and is the location for the BBC’s Animal Park.

Wiltshire also has more unusual film locations: aircraft hangars and runways at Kemble and Hullavington, and with such a big presence on Salisbury Plain, the British Army has many locations available for filming. Swindon provides a useful urban location a short distance from London along the M4 motorway or by train, the STEAM railway museum and designer shopping village provides hstorical and contemporary locations. Swindon has been used as a backdrop for film, television drama and advertising. Norman Foster’s Renault building in West Swindon appeared in the James Bond film A View to a Kill and the Motorola Building in North Swindon was used as a filming location for the James Bond film The World is Not Enough. The National Science Museum outpost at Wroughton airfield, the house of Lydiard Park and the Cotswold Water Park provide unique locations near Swindon.

The Young Victoria filmed at Wilton House

Scenes from Saving Private Ryan were set on the Wiltshire Downs.Kennet“Africa and the plains of America are just over an hour away from London”, or so the movie makers have found. Rolling hills, majestic horizons, open skies and a real sense of space, together with a South West Screen “Film Friendly” star rated council are just some of the reasons for filming in the area.

VisitWiltshire staff will smooth the way for a hassle free shoot.

>>Read more about filming in Wiltshire in an article in Your Wiltshire magazine

Wiltshire can offer Neolithic monuments, stone circles, Saxon and Civil War battlefields, peaceful villages where the old rural traditions are still alive, or historic towns such as Devizes and Marlborough both with unique shopping quarters which make them stand apart. Marlborough has reputedly one of the widest high streets in Europe and is home to Marlborough College, while Devizes has an impressive Market Place.
The area has first class road and rail links with the rest of the country and over half of it is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The area is rich in industrial heritage related to the Kennet and Avon Canal and local industries such as brewing still survive today, with beer still delivered to local hostelries by dray. 

Filming near Marlborough and Devizes include: Time Team – Reconstruction of a timber structure that was excavated at Durrington, Walk Away and I’ll Stumble – Tamzin Outhwaite (2 part drama featuring Avebury), Flog it – Pewsey, How Long is a Piece of String – Savernake Forest and Kennet and Avon Canal, History Mysteries – Open University, and Derek Acorah’s Ghost Town – Devizes, and Wilton Windmill was used for The Victorian Farm produced by Lion TV for the BBC series The Victorian Farm.

The Wolfman filmed in Wiltshire

  Latest NewsCastle Combe
Steven Spielberg  filming War Horse in Castle Combe

Hollywood director Steven Spielberg has to shot his most recent film in Castle Combe.  Based on the 1982 book by author Michael Morpurgo, the War Horse, it will feature Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch and Harry Potter star Emily Watson among the cast. The film is now in post-production and is due for release by Disney in 2011.

>>View coverage of the filming in The Daily Telegraph

We offer private guided sightseeing tours of all these locations.
Wiltshire Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in History

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Bruce Munro’s ‘Light Shower’ is now installed high in the Cathedral’s Spire Crossing where, from Monday 29 November, it will be switched on all day and light will cascade through the fibre optics to the 2,000 teardrop shaped diffusers. Light as gossamer, Light Shower is simply incredibly beautiful. It will stay in the Cathedral until the end of February.

Light Showers Number Crunching:
40,000 metres of fibre
1984 teardrop diffusers
32 rows of 64 drops
8 x 150 watt metal halide projectors
400 man hours to make
232 man hours to install

Bruce Munro’s Water Towers, a maze of huge towers made of stacked recycled water bottles, will be installed in the cloisters in early January 2011. They are illuminated with fibre optics powered by energy-conserving LED lamps, and will change colour synchronized to choral music.

Bruce Munro’s work is currently showing at ‘Contemplating the Void’ at the Guggenheim in New York. His acclaimed Field of Light was seen at the Eden Project in 2008/9. “I am deeply honoured to be invited to show at Salisbury Cathedral” says Munro. “It is a truly amazing building, a magnificent example of English Medieval architecture and craftsmanship.

His new exhibition starts the Friday (14th) at the Cathedral
Salisbury Cathedral: http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/
Salisbury, Wiltshire, The South of England. The city of the oldest clock in the world and neighbour of the most famous megaliths in the world.

This display is well worth a visit!
Salisbury and Stonehenge Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in Wessex

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Salisbury and Stonehenge are separated by some 20 minutes drive, so after having had visited the prehistoric megaliths, it would be simply unforgivable to not pop in on this medieval town (though it has the status of city), which is first of all famed by its 13th century gothic cathedral.
The construction of Salisbury cathedral became one of those rare examples where only one generation of people was involved. That’s why, having had been erected during less than 40 years, this attired in stone lace structure represents a purest specimen of early English Gothic. The gracefully soared 123 metres spire is deceptively light. Actually its weight (with the weight of the tower) amounts to 6500 tonnes!

salisbury cathedral

Considering the fact that the foundation of Salisbury cathedral extends deep down the soggy ground only for 5 metres, it only remains to wonder how it has been still withstanding such load yet to admire the craftsmanship of medieval builders.
Inside of Salisbury cathedral it is as much mesmerizingly beautiful as outside. The sunlight, flowing through the vibrant stained glass windows, softens that characteristic gothic solemnity and makes it more warm and friendly. Apart from good looks the cathedral prides itself on keeping one of the 4 copies of Magna Carta, having been remained from the time of John Lackland, as well as the oldest working clock in the world dated by 14th century.

salisbury cathedral

In the confines of the spacious Cathedral Close nestle picturesque buildings of different époques and styles. Mompesson House (on the left from the High Street Gate) is a typical sample of English Baroque with gorgeous plasterwork and elegant interior that became the set for “Sense and Sensibility”, starring Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant. Malmesbury House (just by Sarum College) is quite often associated with the name of distinguished composer of the 18th century George Frideric Handel. It is believed that this is where he gave his first concert in Britain, to be exact in the room above the Saint Ann’s Gate. Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, situated in an ancient building of the 13th century opposite Salisbury cathedral, houses not only the curious artefacts having been found in the process of excavations near Stonehenge but also possesses the exhibits of the time of Romans and Saxons, the pieces telling about Salisbury’s social life in the Middle Ages, great collections of costumes and paintings.
sarum collegeSalisbury is one of those provincial towns where no one can help oneself but meander around the narrow little streets enjoying the tranquillity far from boisterous metropolises. Everything is so snugly compact in comparison with the cities with high population. So there is even its own “Little Ben”, though probably “Little Tower” would suited this clock tower better, because it was built on the site of the former prison.
While walking along Salisbury, scrutinizing the old houses, amidst which there is a good deal of colourful timber-framed ones, and dropping in on little souvenir shops, the time unnoticeably flies by. And getting hungry organism suddenly begins to focus attention not on “that lovely little house” but on those with the signboards “pub”, “restaurant” or “café” on them. Though it doesn’t take too long to find a place for having a meal, because there are plenty of pubs and restaurants for every taste.
salisbury wiltshireSome of them can be interesting not only from gastronomic point of view, but also from historic. In this list for instance are: the restaurant at “The Old Mill” placed in the building of an old paper mill of the 12th century, “The coach and horses” built in 13th century, “The haunch of venison” on the Market Place. That last one exists at least from the 14th century and it doesn’t only keep a vivid atmosphere of the past. Between the ground and first floors is yet another one small area for visitors, pretentiously called “The house of Lords”. There, in the tiny baking oven, a cut mummified hand clenching the playing cards has been put on display. It was found during the refurbishment of the restaurant and alleged to be of an unlucky gambler, having had been punished for his cheating. That part of dead body doubtfully raises someone’s appetite but definitely increases the popularity of the place.
salisbury wiltshireAcross from “The haunch of venison” is an unusual stone construction. It’s called Poultry Cross, though visually it looks more like a stone marquee. In the 15th century, when Market Place was wider, there were four Crosses. In those days they functioned as departments in the modern supermarkets. So in the Middle Age there were: Cheese/ Milk Cross, Poultry Cross, Wool/Yard Cross and Barnwell Cross where the livestock was being sold. Nowadays this only remained Poultry Cross is the sort of a town summerhouse, a perfect spot for making a date or take shelter from a heavy shower.
In spite of such worldwide neighbour like Stonehenge, Salisbury, having its own charisma, doesn’t fade in the rays of the megaliths fame at all. Salisbury is like a main spice in the dish, it makes the trip to Stonehenge more complete. Without it that “megalithic delicacy” might be a little bit mild.
External links:
Visit Salisbury and Wiltshire Tourist website – www.VisitWiltshire.co.uk
Salisbury Cathedral – www.salisburycathedral.org.uk
Stonehenge – www.Stonehenge-Stone-Circle.co.uk
Salisbury and Stonehenge Tours – www.StonehengeTours.com

Southern England log : http://thesouthofengland.blogspot.com
Tours from London – www.Welcome2London.co.uk
Needless to say we can organise private guided tours of Salisbury and Stonehenge for small groups.  These tours can depart from Salisbury, Bath, Glastonbury or London

Salisbury Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in ancient Wiltshire

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Had to share a few Wessex snowy pictures with you………

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Stonehenge Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in bad weather

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