Two weeks ago, I went to the ancient cathedral city of Salisbury with my parents. Obviously this city has been at the centre of a major international incident for about a month now, but as a resident of Wiltshire’s neighbouring county who has visited Salisbury many times, I decided to visit the city to see what had happened.
Oh, this is interesting. It seems like Wiltshire County Council are offering free parking in the car parks. That’s nice. Our space in the car park gives a great view of the city and the huge cathedral, which actually has the tallest spire in the whole country (it used to be Lincoln Cathedral, which was the tallest building in the world until the spire fell down).
Another interesting fact about Salisbury, even leaving out the historically important Magna Carta, is the fact that it is not even the first city in the area. Old Sarum is an ancient city which was inhabited by many Plantagenet monarchs. Over the centuries, land disputes led to a new cathedral (the current one) being built on the Salisbury Plain and a new city being built around it, leaving the old site to be slowly taken apart and rebuilt across the country.
Some remnants of the city remain as a tourist attraction. The catch is that even though Old Sarum was uninhabited, until the Great Reform Act of 1832 the “city” still had two seats in Parliament. This is because the landowners of the area had control over the votes and used empty seats with no constituents to gain control in Parliament. These were called rotten boroughs.
Isn’t history interesting? Say what you will about the system now, but at least it’s fairer.
So, onto the main street. Some shops are closed but the high street looks fine. Into the cathedral we go.
Man, every part of the cathedral needs refurbishment doesn’t it? First it was the front entrance now it’s a side wall.
Anyway, into the cathedral for lunch. It’s very busy in the Refectory, probably because a few shops are closed. Everything seems fine here. We don’t have time for Magna Carta this time (as we had seen it many times before), we’ve gotta go and explore the shops and see what’s open.
The shopping districts are fine. Everything’s open, especially Lakeland, which makes my dad happy. The changes happen when we reach the pub. Moving through into the shopping district beyond that, a police cordon with policemen are blocking the park where the poisoning was discovered. Many shops I have been to in the past were blocked off, but the library was open as usual.
The river that runs through the city is still peaceful and it’s only the park that’s blocked.
Ah, here we are. The restaurant where the poisoning was suspected to happen is completely cordoned off, resulting in a gigantic elephant in the room as everyone just walks past it. There’s a thriving market though, and business seems fine. I then go to my favourite shop in the city, which sells geek merchandising. I’m very tempted to buy a Monty Python mug.
So, everything is functioning as normal. The tourism seems improving. If you’re concerned about whether it’s safe to visit a city of history and interesting places, then don’t worry – it’s perfectly alright to go.