Salisbury Cathedral was consecrated 757 years ago today, in 1258.
That’s a long time ago, especially in people terms. In 1258, King Henry III was on the throne, England, along with Europe, was heading into the last failed Crusade to Jerursalem, when Acre would be lost once more. There were still knights and kings and serfs.
Salisbury Cathedral has a unique heritage, including the fact that it was one of the fastest built cathedrals in the world at that time. It only took 38 years from start to finish, which meant the entire cathedral was built in the same style.
Many of the cathedrals that took generations to build ended up with styles borrowed from the flavour of the day, a bit here and a bit there. York Minster Cathedral, for example, took 252 years to build!
Salisbury Cathedral is also one of the very few cathedrals with a spire still standing. The structural integrity of the spire has been reinforced over the centuries, and now the spire is the tallest in England, by virtue of the fact that it hasn’t fallen over.
The building of a cathedral was a fascinating process. If you’re curious, you can get an intimate viewpoint of the cathedral building process and the commerce that such a building generated, in the excellent Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.
There’s also a miniseries of the book, but it tends to skim a lot of the interesting stuff (if you’re geeky like me, the details are the interesting stuff!). However, at the very end of the miniseries, they flash forward to the present to show the completed cathedral…and they used Salisbury Cathedral for those shots.