Salisbury: The liberty of the close

Pages 72-79

A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1962.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.



In contrast to the earlier cramped site upon the hill, the Close, laid out in 1220, was planned on an ambitious scale. Its area of over ⅓ square mile gave space to lay out not only a cathedral and its buildings, but also ample lawns with houses for the dignitaries, canons and others round the edge, yet within the precincts. (fn. 1) In fact its area was not much smaller than that covered by the rest of the city of New Salisbury during the first century after its foundation. The original lay-out of the buildings still exists today. On the north and east the Close is enclosed by high, stone walls, while on the west the River Avon is its boundary. The wall continues for some way along the south side, thus forming a precinct roughly square in shape, but the liberty of the Close at its fullest extent reached south beyond this wall as far as the loop of the Avon. (fn. 2) The cathedral stands apart in the centre of the precinct with the bishop's palace to the south-east, well beyond the cloister and the chapter house. A road from the palace, known as Bishop's Walk joins the North Walk stretching from St. Ann's Gate to the Choristers' Green in the north-west corner. From here the West Walk divides the lawns of the churchyard from houses along the river side of the precinct.


The cathedral church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, begun in 1220 by Bishop Poore and his architect, Canon Elias of Dereham, was continued under his next two successors, and consecrated by the third, Bishop Giles of Bridport, in 1258, although it was not completed until 1266. (fn. 3) The octagonal chapter house and spacious detached cloisters were begun between 1263 and 1271 and finished within a decade. The beginning of the 14th century saw the heightening of the tower and the addition of a spire, the tallest in England, over 400 ft. high from the ground. (fn. 4) Thus the cathedral has basically a uniform style expressing a single period of architecture. It is built in warmish grey Chilmark stone. (fn. 5) Within, the generous use of polished Purbeck marble for the shafts and capitals is an outstanding example of the use of that material. In the 14th century steps had to be taken to strengthen the supports bearing the weight of the tower, and a system of external flying buttresses and internal relieving arches was devised. The two inverted arches at the entrance to the choir transepts were built for this purpose. (fn. 6) Apart from the destruction of the statues on the west front and of some of the stained glass, thought to have taken place under Edward VI, (fn. 7) no notable changes were made until the 18th and 19th centuries. The work of Sir Christopher Wren in 1668–9 was confined to devising the best means of strengthening the existing structure. (fn. 8) Some drastic changes took place in the late 18th century through the influence and wealth of Bishop Shute Barrington, who was assisted by the architect James Wyatt. While these two improved the palace and repaired the chapter house, they were also responsible for much destruction. Between 1789 and 1792 the 13th-century choir screen, comparable to that of the angel choir at Lincoln, the remaining medieval glass, and the perpendicular Beauchamp and Hungerford chapels, built in 1450–2 and 1476 at the end of the choir aisles to the south and north of the Lady Chapel, were all removed. (fn. 9) From 1863 to 1867 Sir George Gilbert Scott was engaged upon the restoration of the west front, Lady Chapel, transepts and choir. (fn. 10) In 1959 the choir screen of metal filigree work erected in 1870 (fn. 11) was taken away to allow unrestricted view of the high altar from the nave, and at the same time the reredos designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott was removed. Between 1949 and 1951 almost 30 ft. of the apex of the spire was taken down and rebuilt in a new stone, and the whole structure strengthened. (fn. 12)

The cathedral contains a number of important monuments, including notably the effigy of William Longespée, Earl of Salisbury (d. 1226), and three identifiable as tombs of bishops known to have been brought from Old Salisbury. (fn. 13) During the alterations by Wyatt the burial places of the early bishops were thrown into a state of confusion by the removal of their tomb slabs from their original resting places. (fn. 14) Identification is, therefore, sometimes uncertain. There are also the canopied tomb of Bishop Giles of Bridport (d. 1262), the later chantry tomb of Bishop Edmund Audley (d. 1524), and the unusual brass of Bishop Robert Wyville (d. 1375). (fn. 15)

The rich ornaments and plate known to have been in the cathedral at Old Salisbury were doubtless removed to the new. Among the plate in the old cathedral were two gold and eight silver chalices. (fn. 16) An inventory of 1536 shows the cathedral then in possession of three large silver-gilt chalices, with their patens, eight smaller chalices and many other valuable items. (fn. 17) But at the time of the Reformation the church suffered a disastrous loss of its treasures and an inventory of 1583 consists of but 29 items of little value. (fn. 18) Among the cathedral plate in 1960 are a silver-gilt burial chalice with paten, reputed to have come from the tomb of Bishop Nicholas Longespée (d. 1297), three early 17th-century silver-gilt flagons, a pair of chalices of the same period, and a large 17th-century almsdish. There is also a pair of silver-gilt altar candlesticks, hallmarked 1663, given by the recorder Sir Robert Hyde. (fn. 19)

The cathedral library was built above part of the east walk of the cloisters in 1445. (fn. 20) Among its large collection of manuscripts are some dating back to the 10th century, and many of the foundation books written at Old Salisbury in the 11th and 12th centuries. The Salisbury exemplar of the 1215 Magna Carta is also in the library. There are many early printed books, and a collection of 16th- and 17th-century scientific books bequeathed by Bishop Seth Ward. (fn. 21)

Detached from the cathedral, presumably for structural reasons, about 200 ft. north from the nave, stood a massive belfry with walls 8 ft. thick having three tiers and a spire, which was erected in the earlier 13th century. (fn. 22) Its total height was 200 ft., about half that of the cathedral spire. The number of bells it possessed at first is uncertain, at least ten existed in c. 1531, and eight remained in the 18th century. (fn. 23) From the 16th century the belfry contained the somewhat dubious amenity of an alehouse kept by the bellringer or the sexton. (fn. 24) In 1768 the spire, which had long been considered dangerous, was removed, (fn. 25) and in 1790, during the reconstructions by Wyatt, the chapter decreed that the entire belfry should be taken down and sold, thus allowing an unobstructed view of the cathedral from the Choristers' Green. (fn. 26)

All the bells from the old belfry, with the exception of the 6th, were sold before the end of the 18th century. The 6th, bearing the date 1661, was moved with the 14th-century clock from the belfry to the central tower of the cathedral. In 1884 a new clock was installed, which still uses the old bell. In 1956 the old clock, thought to be the oldest in England, was repaired and now stands in working order in the north aisle. (fn. 27)

A number of references have been found to masons living just outside and to the east of the Close in the 13th century. (fn. 28) These may indicate a temporary place of settlement for the men working on the cathedral and the houses in the Close.

The bishop's place grew from his first residence called 'New Place' already established by 1219. (fn. 29) The first simple building was added to and altered by succeeding bishops until it gained its present form of a series of irregular buildings running from east to west, the most striking feature being a late 15th- or early-16th-century tower with its decorated turret. A 15th-century bedchamber was converted into a chapel in the mid-16th century. (fn. 30) Part of the original building survives in the vaulted undercroft known as Bishop Poore's Hall. This was restored by Bishop Wordsworth in 1889. (fn. 31) During the Commonwealth the palace was let out by the corporation in tenements, one of which was kept as an inn by a Dutch tailor. After these depredations the house was completely restored by Bishop Seth Ward. (fn. 32) The gardens were laid out and a lake formed in the mid-19th century, at which time the stables and an entrance lodge were added. (fn. 33) In 1947 the Church Commissioners exchanged the palace with the dean and chapter for Mompesson House. The palace then became the premises of the Cathedral School, and the bishop moved his residence for a time to Mompesson House. (fn. 34) The drawing-room in the former palace (in 1960 a class-room) contains portraits of some of the bishops of Salisbury.

At the entrance to the palace grounds from Bishop's Walk stood the 'glass house', or glaziers' shop for the maintenance of the cathedral windows. In 1568 Bishop Jewell exchanged the Wardrobe, on the west side of the Close, (fn. 35) with the dean and chapter for this building, and in c. 1571 demolished it. (fn. 36)

Following the practice usual for other secular cathedrals licence to build and crenellate the walls of the Close was obtained by the dean and chapter in 1327, (fn. 37) with permission, granted four years later, to use stone from Old Salisbury. (fn. 38) The wall, however, was not immediately completed, for in 1342 the Archdeacon of Salisbury was acting as master of the work upon the wall, (fn. 39) and in that year and the next, money was being subscribed to meet the cost. (fn. 40) In 1342 the chapter resolved to reduce the height of the graveyard wall and use the spoil to build the wall of the Close. (fn. 41) No record survives of the building of the Close gates, but it may be presumed that the gateways still in use are those made when the Close wall was first built. (fn. 42) St. Ann's Gate is a moulded stone archway of 14th-century date. Over the archway is a single room, once a chapel, lit by a window on each of the east and west fronts. This upper room has for centuries been leased with Malmesbury House adjoining it on the north, and in the 18th century was used by James Harris as a concert room. (fn. 43) The North Gate, also sometimes called the Close, or High Street, Gate, is of 14th- and 15th-century date and consists of a moulded pointed arch. On its south front are two two-light stone-mullioned casements flanking a central niche. This is thought to have been occupied by a statue of Henry III, and later housed one of Charles I. (fn. 44) It now holds a statue of Edward VII. The north front is more elaborate. Between its two stone-mullioned windows are the Stuart royal arms. This front was repaired and restored by the Friends of Salisbury Cathedral in 1939. (fn. 45) On the east of this gate was the dwelling of the Close porter, and adjoining this in the 16th century was the prison for the Close. (fn. 46) The Harnham, or South, Gate is without an upper story and consists of a 14th-century segmental stone archway surmounted on both faces with an enriched string course. On the outer faces this is set forward on a series of closely-set and heavily-moulded stone brackets. The gateway was thoroughly restored in 1937. (fn. 47) Its gate house has been almost entirely rebuilt in the 18th and 19th centuries. A fourth gate, known as the Bishop's Gate, plainer in style than the others, gives access into Exeter Street from the palace grounds. It is of 14th- and 15th-century date and consists of a 4-centred arch with a gabled room above. For some time in the 19th and early 20th centuries this room was used as a store for some of the diocesan records. (fn. 48)

Evidence of the precise planning of the residences within the Close is seen in the chapter decrees of 1213, (fn. 49) that the canons were to build 'fair houses of stone' near to the walls of the Close or to the river, and of August 1222, that all those, to whom sites had been allotted, must begin building by the following Whitsun. (fn. 50) Most of the dwellings were finished by the end of the 13th century. Although only nine houses standing today are thought to contain medieval work, many more are built upon the early sites, so that the general lay-out is still the same. (fn. 51) The largest houses, belonging to the canons, were placed chiefly along the West Walk with gardens, some over 150 yds. in length, extending to the Avon. (fn. 52) The Leadenhall (aula plumbea), sometimes called Leyden House, at the south end of the West Walk, one of the earliest houses to be erected, was built by Elias of Dereham as a pattern for others, but proved so costly that he left his successors to pay for it each in decreasing ratio. (fn. 53) Although the present house is Georgian in character it contains some 13th-century features and a restored early English chapel. It remained a canonical residence until 1947 and since 1948 has been a private preparatory school. (fn. 54) John Constable, the landscape-painter (d. 1837), frequently stayed in this house with his friend John Fisher, Archdeacon of Berks. (fn. 55) Another spacious residence nearby was the South Canonry. When surveyed for repairs in 1402 the house included its own private chapel, bakehouse, hothouse, brewhouse, dovecote, and stable. (fn. 56) It was much damaged during the Civil War, and largely rebuilt after the Restoration. (fn. 57) It was much altered in the 19th century. Since 1951 it has been the residence of the bishop.

North of these houses opposite the west end of the cathedral stood Sherborne House, later called King's House, and now part of the Diocesan Training College for women teachers. (fn. 58) This was the prebendal mansion of the abbots of Sherborne until the Reformation. On its northern side were a few smaller houses occupied by certain chantry priests including the chaplains of Walter Hungerford's chantry, and by the succentor. After the Reformation some of these smaller houses were absorbed into Sherborne House, which was improved and extended possibly by Hugh Powell, its Elizabethan owner, and later by Thomas Sadler, principal registrar of the diocese. Sadler was knighted in 1623 after entertaining members of the royal family here in 1610 and 1613, events responsible for the change of name to King's House, and the appearance of the coat of arms of Henry, Prince of Wales, in one of the windows. Within the present building is a 14th-century roof to a former hall, a 14th-, or early-15th-century stone porch with fan vaulting, and much 16th- and 17th-century work. A survey made in the later 18th century shows that the King's House then consisted of four dwelling houses. (fn. 59) One of these was used as a girls' school from 1767: subsequently it housed the Godolphin School for about ten years from 1837, and the Diocesan Training College from soon after its foundation in 1841. (fn. 60) To meet the needs of the college many additions have been made to the buildings, especially on the west side. When the college needed to expand in 1951 plans were made to rebuild on the site of the Old Deanery, another large house to its north, which had been leased by the college since 1926. (fn. 61) Before the proposed demolition took place, however, the framework and roof of a 13th-century hall with central hearth were found and it was decided to restore and retain as much of the existing building as possible. It was in the Old Deanery that Coventry Patmore wrote The Angel in the House. (fn. 62)

Other notable houses on the north-west side of the Close, having parts dating from the 15th century or earlier, are the North Canonry, the Wardrobe, and Hemyngsby. The North Canonry, set well forward leaving room for an exceptionally fine garden stretching to the river, possesses a 13th-century crypt, and gables and windows of the 15th and 17th centuries. It was, however, largely rebuilt in the 19th century. The presbyterian incumbent of St. Thomas's church occupied this house for some time during the Interregnum. (fn. 63) It ceased to be a canonical residence in 1940. (fn. 64) The Wardrobe was so-called from its origin in 1254 as the bishop's storehouse. (fn. 65) It was also used as a residence and was exchanged by the bishop with the dean and chapter for the 'glasshouse' in 1568. (fn. 66) Since 1945 it has been leased to the Diocesan Training College. The house now known as Hemyngsby was built by Canon Alexander of Hemingby, the first recorded warden (1322) of the Choristers' School. But, except for its private chapel of an earlier date, and an 18th-century extension, the present building was built in the mid-15th century by Nicholas Upton, and finished by a canon, William Fidion, sometimes, but doubtfully, identified with the Greek scholar Pheidion who had escaped from Constantinople in 1453. Fidion died in 1472, and his name appears on some panelling in the great hall. Under Henry VIII the house was occupied by Edward Powell, an eminent jurist, who was executed after acting as counsel for Katharine of Aragon in the divorce proceedings against her. During the Interregnum it was for a time occupied by the presbyterian incumbent of St. Edmund's. (fn. 67) The house remained a canonical residence until the death of Matthew Marsh in 1848. (fn. 68)

From the beginning some of the canons dwelt along the North Walk and Bishop's Walk. In the former, one of the earliest houses is that known as 'Aula le Stage' in documents dating from the early 15th century, now (1960) no. 21. The name derives from the house having an upper story and a tower. It was one of the four houses in the Close to possess its own chapel, to which probably belonged the 13th-century single-light lancets still to be seen. (fn. 69) The chief internal alterations took place in the 16th century and the front was rebuilt in the 18th century. Between 1531 and 1581 the occupiers of 'Aula le Stage' leased the grounds of a house called Loders at its rear, which was the prebendal mansion of the abbey of St. Mary, Montebourg, Normandy, the parent house of the alien priory of Loders and chapel of Bradpole, both in Dorset. (fn. 70) 'Aula le Stage' was large enough to provide an occasional meeting place for the cathedral chapter. The list of its canonical residents is known from 1316 to 1850, after which date it has been in lay occupation. (fn. 71) Three of the early canons had houses along Bishop's Walk, one being on the site of the present deanery and diocesan registry.

The confusion between the histories of the cathedral song school and the chancellor's grammar school has been dealt with elsewhere. (fn. 72) At the beginning of the 14th century Bishop Simon of Ghent gave the choristers a house, now no. 54, in the north-west corner of the Close, where c. 1323, they were put in charge of a warden, Alexander of Hemingby whose name is associated with no. 56. (fn. 73) This choristers' house was later given to the priests of Lord Robert Hungerford's chantry and is called the Hungerford Chantry to this day. (fn. 74) The choristers meanwhile in 1347 had moved to a canonical house in Bishop's Walk, now no. 5, sometimes called the Choristers' House, where they lived until c. 1620 after which time they attended the chancellor's grammar school as day-boys for some 200 years. They began to live as boarders again in 1847 in the premises of the grammar school in the north-west corner of the Close. These premises, thenceforth known as the choristers' school, comprised Braybrooke House, given to the headmaster of the grammar school as a residence in 1559, and an adjoining school-house. Braybrooke House, externally an 18th-century house, but incorporating some much earlier building, was so called because it was charged with the payment of an obit for Canon William of Braybrooke (d. c. 1329). The schoolhouse, often attributed to Sir Christopher Wren, was rebuilt in 1714 under the supervision of Thomas Naish, clerk of the works to the cathedral. (fn. 75) It consists of one large school-room with dormitory above, which in 1960 retains its original panelling and headmaster's desk. The choristers remained in these premises until 1947 when the school, by then called the Cathedral School, moved to its present home in the bishop's palace (see above). The former school-house, now known as the 'Wren Hall' has been used as a muniment room for the diocesan records since c. 1955.

The chancellor's grammar school, first established at Old Salisbury, is mentioned in a charter of King Stephen dated some time after 1139. (fn. 76) In the new city its house was in Drakehall, later Exeter, Street, opposite St. Ann's Gate. During the Reformation the school appears to have ceased, but was refounded in the Close in c. 1540. For a short period it occupied a house in Bishop's Walk, somewhere south of the choristers' house, until the grant of Braybrooke House to the headmaster in 1559 (see above). Its description 'the free school in the close', used in the parliamentary survey of 1649, was retained until the choristers once more became boarders in the 19th century and gave it their name.

Interspersed among the larger residences on three sides of the Close were the smaller houses of canons, vicars, and chantry chaplains. Near the North Walk a row of these was situated in a lane which ran along the west side of the present Theological College. For reasons connected with the pattern of residence at Salisbury, the vicars choral did not possess a common hall until a later date than those of other cathedrals in England. (fn. 77) Before the 15th century each one had lived in the house of the canon to whom he was attached, but this practice declined when non-resident canons were no longer required to hold houses in the Close. The site of the house taken over for the Vicar's Hall, after their charter of incorporation in 1409, is now approximately covered by nos. 12–14 North Walk near St. Ann's Gate. (fn. 78)

Just beyond the south wall of the Close stood de Vaux College, founded in 1262 by Bishop Giles of Bridport, and dissolved in 1542. (fn. 79) Some at least of the buildings remained in 1826, but had been demolished by 1834. (fn. 80) Some houses at the junction of De Vaux Place with St. Nicholas Street stand on the edge of the former college grounds, and most probably incorporate masonry from the college in their structures. (fn. 81) South-east of de Vaux College, beyond the precinct of the Close but within the liberty, stood St. Nicholas's Hospital founded close to Harnham Bridge some time before 1227, (fn. 82) and still (in 1960) an almshouse for men and women with a resident master. Parts of the 13th-century buildings survive, notably the twin chapels at the end of what was probably a double infirmary hall. The central arcade is also to be seen in the north wall of the master's house. (fn. 83) The chapel of St. John, founded by Bishop Robert Bingham in 1244, (fn. 84) stood on the east side of Harnham Bridge on the island between two channels of the Avon. The shell of the building, still retaining many of the original openings, has now been divided into three stories and is used as a private house. (fn. 85)

Neither the city nor the Close was free from fighting during the Civil War. (fn. 86) The Close suffered damage because it provided a good stronghold, with the belfry as the centre around which the struggle was waged. The parliamentary survey of 1649 described the Close in great detail including the houses of six canons residentiary, the dean, subdean, and succentor, all dignified in character, having numerous rooms, often wainscotted, outhouses, and gardens. Contrasting with these were the more humble dwellings of 6 vicars choral, 7 lay vicars, and 2 vergers situated mostly near or along the present Rosemary Lane, some being very small, and two having shops in them. Also included in the survey were the pieces of meadow lying across the southern end of the Close, and appropriated to the canons residentiary in augmentation of their livings. These were known as 'options' because they were acquired by choice of the canons according to seniority at the admission of each new resident. (fn. 87)

There were probably always a few lay residents in the Close even before the events of the 17th century. In 1386 the dean and chapter granted to Reynold Glover a 'shop over the ditch of the canons of the close on the east side of the north gate' in return for keeping the belfry clock. (fn. 88) The belfry had three shops in it in 1473. (fn. 89) A shop in the North Gate with a room above it was leased to a joiner in the 16th century for 70 years. (fn. 90) Certain other craftsmen appear to have lived within the Close at that date, for some tailors and weavers were said to have set up shop there because they did not belong to any company and were not freemen of the city. (fn. 91) In 1626 all inns in the Close were suppressed except the one in the belfry, (fn. 92) although some probably returned during the following period of secularization. During the Interregnum the Close became a rubbish dump and a playground: butchers killed and sold meat there and coaches entered the churchyard on the north-east and west sides of the cathedral turning up the ground and breaking the graves. (fn. 93) On two occasions the cloisters were used for prisoners, Dutchmen in 1653 and others, perhaps from Monmouth's rebellion, in 1685. (fn. 94)

It is the recovery from this depressing period which has given to the Close its 18th-century character. In 1670 the deanery and three of the canons' houses were restored and subsequent rebuilding or refronting elsewhere was carried out in the new style of domestic architecture. (fn. 95) During the long and notable episcopacy of Seth Ward, Sir Christopher Wren was responsible for surveying the cathedral, and possibly also for the design of the College of Matrons inside the High Street Gate founded in 1682 by Bishop Ward. (fn. 96) In the northwest corner of the Close round the Choristers' Green are to be found many of the finest houses in Salisbury, dating from the reconstruction of the late-17th or early-18th centuries. Out of the many residences which could be specially mentioned in this corner alone, perhaps the most perfect is Mompesson House, built by Thomas Mompesson c. 1680, and improved by his son Thomas in 1701. These dates and the quality of the design suggest that it may have been the work of Sir Christopher Wren, but there is no direct evidence of this. The external appearance of the house is enhanced by the original lead work and wrought iron of railings, gates, and lamp carriers. For a period Mompesson House was used as a lodging for the Judges of the Assizes: it became the residence of the bishop from 1947 until 1951 when Bishop Anderson moved to the South Canonry (see above), and in the following year was given to the National Trust by Mr. Denis Martineau. (fn. 97) Other fine examples of this period of architecture include Myles Place (no. 68) built by William Swanton in 1718 and later occupied by Dr. Heale, first physician at the infirmary, (fn. 98) the Walton Canonry in the West Walk rebuilt by Francis Eyre c. 1719 on the site of a house destroyed by fire at the end of the 17th century, in which had lived Isaac Walton, son of the author of the Compleat Angler, (fn. 99) and the early 18th-century house, now occupied by the Theological College, founded in 1860, in the North Walk. (fn. 100) Malmesbury House, once called Cole Abbey, or Copt Hall, (fn. 101) to the north of St. Ann's Gate is a 17th-and 18th-century house built on the site of some small medieval houses. Its east front is part of the Close wall and has a projecting angular oriel window. On the south wall of the house is a painted sundial, dated 1749, bearing the words 'Life is but a walking shadow'. The house may have been occupied by a son of the Lord Keeper Coventry, d. 1640. But the interior owes much to the influence of a later owner, James Harris (1709–80), the author of Hermes, father of the 1st Earl of Malmesbury, a friend of George IV when Prince of Wales. (fn. 102) It possesses a notable Georgian staircase, and on the first floor a room richly ornamented with plaster-work reminiscent of the Gothic style of Strawberry Hill. (fn. 103) A 17th-century summer-house in the garden has a hiding-hole, traditionally said to have been the refuge of the Duke of Monmouth after the battle of Sedgemoor. (fn. 104)

The 18th and 19th centuries brought improvements in the open spaces of the Close enabling it at last to match the dignity of its residences. One commendable result of the activities of Bishop Barrington and James Wyatt was the draining and levelling of the churchyard, which had been described by a visitor in 1782 as 'like a cow common'. (fn. 105) The gravestones were buried and covered by lawns, a plan marking the position of the graves being kept among the muniments of the dean and chapter. As in the early city so in the Close, watercourses had been constructed to flow across the precincts and adjacent meadows. (fn. 106) At times their unkempt state was reported at the sessions, but some of them remained open until the mid-19th century when they were covered in as part of the improvements effected by the local board of health. (fn. 107) The Close Ditch, about 5 ft. wide outside the north wall, which ran from the Avon near Crane Bridge to the same river below Harnham Bridge, was filled up in 1860. (fn. 108) During the same period various activities within the Close were restricted: even the Whitsun Fair on the Choristers' Green was discontinued. (fn. 109) As a result, today Salisbury possesses a Close of outstanding beauty, protected by its gates whose survival and continued use have made it possible to exercise control of traffic, and preserve to some extent the character of a precinct.


  • 1. For a more detailed discussion of the early plan see Kathleen Edwards, 'Houses of Salisbury Close in the 14th Century', Jnl. Brit. Arch. Assoc. (3rd ser.), iv. 54–115.
  • 2. The boundary of the liberty is marked on Naish, Map, 1751.
  • 3. V.C.H. Wilts. iii. 164–207. This article on the cathedral chapter contains a more detailed historical account of the building of the cathedral. Apart from Guide Bks. there are few 20th-century works on the architecture of the cath. Among earlier accounts see F. Price, Series of Observations upon that Admirable Structure the Cath. Ch. of Salisbury (1753), and W. Dodsworth, Hist. Acct. of See and Cath. Ch. of Salisbury (1814).
  • 4. R.L.P. Jowitt, Salisbury, 29.
  • 5. V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 248.
  • 6. For an account of the building of the cathedral and the measures taken to strengthen the structure see II. Braun, 'Building of Salisbury Cathedral re-examined'. W.A.M. lvii. 371–5; Arthur F. Smethurst, Visitor's Guide to Cathedral, 11.
  • 7. V.C.H. Wilts. iii. 193.
  • 8. Ibid. 45, 194. The notebk. in which he recorded his work is in the cath. libr.
  • 9. Ibid. 200; W.A.M. xlii. 462.
  • 10. V.C.H. Wilts. iii. 204.
  • 11. Kelly's Dir. Wilts. (1939).
  • 12. Friends of Salisbury Cathedral, 700th anniversary commemoration pamphlet (1958).
  • 13. For an identification of these three tombs see Hugh Shortt, 'Three Early Episcopal Tombs in Salisbury Cathedral', W.A.M. lvii. 217–9.
  • 14. Nightingale, Wilts. Plate, 4.
  • 15. See pl. facing p. 12 in V.C.H. Wilts. iii.
  • 16. Nightingale, Wilts. Plate, 1–3.
  • 17. This inventory is printed in ibid., app. II, pp. 235–45.
  • 18. V.C.H. Wilts. iii. 185.
  • 19. Nightingale, Wilts. Plate, 9–10; TS. inventory in cath.
  • 20. D. & C. Sar. Reg. Hutchins, f. 83.
  • 21. Thanks are due to Dr. Elsie Smith for advice on this paragraph.
  • 22. V.C.H. Wilts. iii. 165, 200; for a picture of it from the north-east, see Hatcher, Salisbury, pl. facing p. 524.
  • 23. J.M.J. Fletcher, 'Old Belfry in the Close', W.A.M. xlvii. 608–16.
  • 24. Dora H. Robertson, Sarum Close, 227, 233; D. & C. Sar. Chapter Act Bk. 1741–96, f. 339.
  • 25. W.A.M. xlvii. 614. For a view of the belfry after removal of the spire, see pl. opposite.
  • 26. V.C.H. Wilts. iii. 200; H. de S. Shortt, Salisbury, 91.
  • 27. Walters, Wilts. Bells, 167–9; W.A.M. xlvii. 608–16; Guide in cath.
  • 28. D. & C. Sar. 4/2/3, 1/2/8; Sar. Dioc. Regy. Liber Evidenc. B. f. 530.
  • 29. V.C.H. Wilts. iii. 165.
  • 30. H. Braun, 'Notes on Bishop's Palace', W.A.M. lvii. 405–6.
  • 31. John Wordsworth, 'Bishop's Palace', W.A.M. xxv. 167, 181–3; see pl. facing p. 74.
  • 32. Shortt, Salisbury, 72, 80–81.
  • 33. Friends of Sar. Cath. Rep. 1939; Brown's Salisbury Guide c. 1900.
  • 34. W.A.M. li. 352; for the Cathedral School, see V.C.H. Wilts. v. 358; for Mompesson House, see p. 78.
  • 35. Jnl. Brit. Arch. Assoc. (3rd ser.), iv. 77, and see p. 76.
  • 36. C. R. Everett, 'Notes on the Decanal and other houses in the Close', W.A.M. I. 445.
  • 37. Cal. Pat. 1327–30, 159.
  • 38. Sar. Dioc. Regy. Lib. Evidenc. B. f. 140.
  • 39. D. & C. Sar. Reg. Hemingby, f. 44d.
  • 40. Ibid. f. 44 and 44d.
  • 41. Ibid. f. 43d.
  • 42. [Sir Bruce Richmond] Close Gates of Salisbury (publ. Friends of Sar. Cath. 1939). For authorship of this pamphlet see Friends of Sar. Cath. Rep. 1939.
  • 43. See pp. 78, 142; there are water-colour paintings of both sides of this gate painted 1803 and 1804 by Buckler in W.A.S. Libr., Devizes.
  • 44. Sir Bruce Richmond, op. cit. The statue of Charles I is in the Museum, St. Ann St., Salisbury.
  • 45. Ibid.; Friends of Sar. Cath. Rep. 1939; there are water-colour paintings of both sides of this gate painted in 1804 by Buckler in W.A.S. Libr. Devizes.
  • 46. W.A.M. l. 438–9.
  • 47. Close Gates of Salisbury.
  • 48. Ex inf. the Diocesan Registry, Salisbury.
  • 49. Fasti Eccl. Sar. ed. W. H. Jones, 241.
  • 50. Jnl. Brit. Arch. Assoc. (3rd ser.), iv. 63.
  • 51. Ibid.
  • 52. Ibid.
  • 53. C. Wordsworth, 'Elias de Derham's Leadenhall', W.A.M. xxxix. 433–44.
  • 54. Ex inf. the Headmistress.
  • 55. R. B. Beckett, John Constable and the Fishers, passim.
  • 56. Jnl. Brit. Arch. Assoc. (3rd ser.), iv. 65.
  • 57. W.A.M. l. 439.
  • 58. C.R. Everett, 'Prebendal Mansion of Sherborne Monastery commonly known as the King's House', W.A.M. xlvii. 379–441.
  • 59. Ibid.
  • 60. Jowitt, Salisbury, 56; for Godolphin School and Diocesan Training College, see V.C.H. Wilts. v. 362, 363.
  • 61. W.A.M. liv. 115; V.C.H. Wilts. v. 364.
  • 62. Jowitt, Salisbury, 55.
  • 63. J. M. J. Fletcher, Incumbents of Salisbury Churches during Commonwealth, 5.
  • 64. Ex inf. Miss M. Luckham, Diocesan Registry.
  • 65. W.A.M. l. 444; Jowitt, Salisbury, 55.
  • 66. See p. 75.
  • 67. Fletcher, op. cit. 15.
  • 68. W.A.M. l. 433; Jowitt, Salisbury, 54; Country Life, 9 Aug. 1913, 197.
  • 69. Jnl. Brit. Arch. Assoc. (3rd ser.), iv. 74.
  • 70. V.C.H. Dors. ii. 116.
  • 71. C. R. Everett, 'Aula le Stage', W.A.M. xlix. 288–312.
  • 72. Dora H. Robertson, 'Buildings in City and Close connected with the Cathedral Choristers', W.A.M. xlviii. 1–30, and unless otherwise stated, the following information about the houses occupied by the two schools comes from this article. Thanks are due to Mrs. Robertson for reading this section on the Close.
  • 73. See p. 76.
  • 74. W.A.M. l. 434.
  • 75. Robertson, Sarum Close, 222; H. M. Colvin, Dict. of Brit. Architects, 1660–1840, 404.
  • 76. Sar. Chart. and Doc. (Rolls Ser.), 8.
  • 77. V.C.H. Wilts. iii. 179.
  • 78. Jnl. Brit. Arch. Assoc. (3rd ser.), iv. 81–7, 89.
  • 79. V.C.H. Wilts. iii. 369, 384.
  • 80. Ibid. 384; there is a water-colour painting of the arcade of the church painted by Buckler in 1805 in W.A.S. Libr., Devizes.
  • 81. V.C.H. Wilts. iii. 384.
  • 82. Ibid. 343.
  • 83. For some account of these buildings and a plan, see Arch. Jnl. civ (1947), 149–50. There are two water-colour paintings showing the remains of the early buildings by Buckler dated 1805 in W.A.S. Libr., Devizes.
  • 84. V.C.H. Wilts. iii. 344.
  • 85. There are two water-colour paintings of the chapel dated 1803 by Buckler in the W.A.S. Libr., Devizes.
  • 86. See p. 118.
  • 87. The survey is printed in Trans. Salisbury Field Club, i. 95–99, 132–8, 167–71; ii. 81–87.
  • 88. W.A.M. xlvii. 613.
  • 89. Jowitt, Salisbury, 52.
  • 90. Ch. Com. no. 136778 f. 35.
  • 91. E 134/31 Eliz. Hil./10.
  • 92. Robertson, Sarum Close, 162.
  • 93. Ibid. 210.
  • 94. W.A.M. xlix. 123; V.C.H. Wilts. iii. 193.
  • 95. Shortt, Salisbury, 79–82; V.C.H. Wilts. iii. 194.
  • 96. See p. 169.
  • 97. Guide Bk. to Mompesson House.
  • 98. Shortt, Salisbury, 87. It has been occupied by six generations of the Jacob family.
  • 99. W.A.M. l. 444.
  • 100. V.C.H. Wilts. iii. 68.
  • 101. W.A.M. l. 432.
  • 102. See p. 142.
  • 103. Jowitt, Salisbury, 49, and pl. facing p. 47.
  • 104. Ibid. 49.
  • 105. Ibid. 46.
  • 106. Naish, Map, 1751.
  • 107. Robertson, Sarum Close, 227; Shortt, Salisbury, 106. A wide drain passing behind the Palace was covered c. 1798: W. Gilpin, Observations on the Western Parts of Eng. (1798), 67–9.
  • 108. Sar. Dioc. Regy. Cases and Opinions, f. 41; see below, p. 114.
  • 109. Robertson, Sarum Close, 227, 263.