Swans on the Avon in Sailsbury, photographed by Charles Hawes

A guided walk around Salisbury, Wiltshire (part 1)

March 16, 2014 · 25 comments

Dearly beloved, I take as my text this morning “Short walks in English Towns” by Bryn Frank. Published in 1988 it covers 10 towns and cities, one of which is Salisbury, so having booked a holiday there I thought it would be fun to follow his route and see what has changed in the last 26 years. 

Anne thought it might be fun, too, so despite my credit appearing on all these pics, a good many of them were taken by her (though I did all the processing afterwards  to bring them up to my usual high standards).

It was a fascinating walk and to do it justice I have spilt it into two. Which is how we actually did it.

Our apartment was in 95 Crane Street which is on Frank’s route, but I wanted to keep as far as possible to his itinerary which starts in the Central Car Park. Frank considered it and its surrounding shopping precinct to be “very superior”; apart from the fact that it is next to the River Avon, we thought it very ordinary, though interesting that the “new” Sainsbury’s was still going strong.

Salisbury, near the central car park, photographed by Charles Hawes

Of course these days any self-respecting urban walk should start from a train or bus station

I did like the sign at the barber’s.

Barber shop front in Salisbury, Wiltshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Would this make you more likely to use the place?

The idea that the perfect Valentine’s gift might be a sausage was new to me. Am I missing something? (*innocent look*).

Butchers board in central Salisbury, photographed by Charles Hawes

“Is that a susage darling or are you just pleased to see me?”

At the corner of the precinct we crossed the river and the mill race the back of  the Town Mill which was clearly the favoured hang out for Salisbury’s pigeon population.

Mill race at the back of Town Mill, Salisbury, photographed by Charles Hawes

Yep, that’s a pigeon

Just across the street Frank directed us to enter the church of St Thomas Becket.

St Thomas Becket church, Salisbury, photographed by Charles Hawes

Hello Anne!

Inside the most remarkable feature was a large painting of “Doom” above the chancel arch. Painted at the end of the 15th century (perhaps) it had been whitewashed over and only re-discovered in 1819.

Painting of Doom in St Thomas Becket chuch in Salisbury, photographed by Charles Hawes

Nothing like some doom to concentrate the mind.

Anne wanted to draw attention to the unsympathetic light bulbs.

I’m sure they’ll put nicer ones in when they have finished the work

Frank tells us that a few examples of the original stained glass remain and that the organ was presented by George III in 1792.

Leaving the church, Frank had passed a sweetie shop and a bakers in St Thomas Square but these are no more. I did find a 2 pence  piece, though, sitting on top of a  gate post to the graveyard, which I took (to be an omen of good luck).

Churchyard of St Thomas Becket church, Salisbury, photographed by Charles Hawes

Never one to ignore coin of the realm, me.

Turning left from the back of the church we reached the library building, the entrance to which Frank  finds “impressive”. I can’t say that I was that impressed. It seems that there was a clock above the library which was, apparently, presented by the Rotary Club to mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee and which Frank describes as quaint and which I would describe as absent (perhaps I was looking in the wrong place).

The library building in salisbury, Wiltshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

I failed to find a pic of what the clock looked like or, indeed, if this is where it went

Frank rates the library steps as a good place to take in the Market Square but in fact it is better to walk to its middle to enjoy the views.

Market Square in Salisbury, wiltshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

It is a very good space, bounded by relatively attractive buildings.

Frank has a lot to say about the square and its features so we paused while I read to Anne from the book ( I think she wandered off before I had finished).

Here I am, reading to myself.

There have been markets held in the square since the granting of the city charter in 1227. Sadly it was not market day but we had Salisbury City Council’s apology and Frank’s description as substitute.

Salisbury Market Square, photographed by Charles Hawes

It looked as if they are putting in new toilets! (bucking the trend)

It really is a rather lovely space with some fine buildings. Anne was very taken by Nuggs (1268).

Nuggs, on the edge of the Market Square, Salisbury, photographed by Charles Hawes

Its certainly one of the most attractive buildings in the square

Here are two of Frank’s rather contrasting snippets of history about the square. The Duke of Buckingham was executed here for treason against King Richard in 1483. In 1902, to celebrate Edward VII’s coronation, 4,000 guests sat down to a meal of roast beef and pudding; later in the day 4,000 more had tea and cake.

On the far side of the square is a shopping precinct called Cross Keys Chequer. Originally this was a 14th century development, the name “chequer” originating from the grid system with which the area was originally laid out. Frank found a good bookshop and several restaurants. We found TK-maxx…….

Cross Quays Chequer, Salisbury, photographed by Charles Hawes

Lightroom did a great job of removing a green colour cast to the light here.

….. although on the way in there are more attractive remnants of an earlier architecture.

Cross Quays Chequer, Salisbury, photographed by Charles Hawes

Anne in her duvet

Frank directed us to turn left out of the Cross Keys Chequer down Queen Street, where John A ‘Port House is situated, built-in 1425. At the time of Frank’s visit this was a china and glass emporium and it was possible inside to see preserved parts of the wattle and daub wall construction.

John a Port House, Salisbury, photographed by Charles Hawes

Crew Clothing Co. occupy it now and we found an iron range and a brick fireplace, but no wattle and daub.

Inside John a Port House, Salisbury, photographed by Charles Hawes

Sorry about the very grainy image but I couldn’t use flash or it would have reflected.

Shortly after passing this building we turned right up Fish Row. On the wall is a plaque commemorating the  Trafalgar Way. This is the route from Falmouth to London (via Salisbury) that was taken by a Lieutenant of the navy carrying news to the Prime Minister of Nelsons death in 1805. It took him 37 hours to cover the 271 miles and involved 21 changes of horse. Erected in 2005, this was not there at the time of Frank’s visit.

Plaque commemorating the Trafalger Way, in Salisbury, Wiltshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

This probably tells you most of what you might want to know but I doubt you can read this on your phone.

Fish Row becomes Butcher Row and at the top of the street is the (mostly 14th century) Poultry Cross. We passed a Fish and Chip shop which we marked down for a future supper (OK but very small portions of fish).

Poultry Cross, Salisbury, Wiltshire, photograhed by Charles Hawes

And here’s my favourite person next to it.

Frank tells us that this is a copy of Chichester’s Cross and that there had once been other such crosses in the city.

On instruction we re-traced our steps a little way and crossed over to New Canal Street, passing a half-timbered building that was a Ratners in Frank’s time and is now a Goldsmiths jewellers.

Goldsmiths jewellers in Salisbury, photographed by Charles Hawes

I’ve no idea if what they sell is crap

This change may have had something to do with Gerald Ratner stating in 1991 that: “We also do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95. People say, “How can you sell this for such a low price?”, I say, “because it’s total crap.”


In New Canal Street Frank draws attention to the elaborately timbered 15th century building that had belonged to a wool merchant called John Halle. It had been restored by Pugin in 1834 and was in use in 1986 as an Odeon cinema (from the back and white photograph in the book, it was showing ‘Crocodile Dundee’ at the time). It still is an Odeon cinema, its entrance having been improved since Frank’s visit  by a more sympathetic if totally inauthentic set of doors.

Odeon cinema in salisbury, photographed by Charles Hawes

Pugin lived in Salisbury around this time

At the bottom of New Canal Street we followed instructions to carry on to have a look at The Red Lion.

The Red Lion in Salisbury, photographed by Charles Hawes

Cheery colour!

Frank tells us that the pub is famous for its collection of unusual clocks but neither of us felt like stopping so I contented myself with being photographed  by the red lion.

Charles Hawes at The Red Lion, Salisbury, photographed by Anne Wareham

Actually I wanted to climb on it, but was being observed by someone behind the bar.

Frank says that the pub is festooned with “a rare variety of creeper”  and that there are “very few known examples of this creeper in Europe”. It is Vitis coignetiae and we have one in the garden.  The 2013 RHS Plant Finder has it as “widely available”.  Times change.

Back at the crossroads with New Canal Street we turned left down Catherine Street where I spotted a beautiful waistcoat in a charity shop (which I went back for the next day – a perfect fit- Hurrah!). Catherine Street becomes St John  Street where we paused to admire the Greek Revival facade of The White Hart which Frank says dates from around 1800. The effigy of the hart was erected in 1827 to rival something similar on another hostelry.

The White Hart, Salisbury, photographed by Charles Hawes

By now we were both very cold!

We had been out for a couple of hours by now, most of it in a bitterly cold wind, so we took the short cut back to Crane Street down New Street for some Hot Cross Loaf and a cup of tea back at the flat.

Charles Hawes in new waiscoat, photographed by Anne Wareham

I knew you’d like to see it. Bet you can’t guess where it came from!

(now children, how many times does Anne appear in my pictures?)

The post completing this walk around Salisbury will be published on March 23rd.


{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Ian Thorpe March 16, 2014 at 9:13 am

Very entertaining and informative, and good to see both of you adorning the photos. Whole story completely eclipsed though by that stunning waistcoat – can we see photos of more from your collection, Charles?


Charles March 16, 2014 at 6:38 pm

Thanks Ian. I will try to “guest” more waistcoats in future urban walks.


Neil March 16, 2014 at 9:17 am

Hiya. Salisbury was a frequent shopping place for us when living in Dorset. The Red Lion a favourite eatery, the inner courtyard is just splendid, as is the interior…. fun to see the city again. The cathedral is wonderful. A nice small, cuddly sort of city.


Charles March 16, 2014 at 6:40 pm

That’s nice. I don’t remember you saying anything in the past about Salisbury. Especially nice that you knew the Red Lion. Did we miss anywhere good?


Anne Wareham March 16, 2014 at 10:32 am

Gave me the giggles. Great reminder of a smashing holiday. Maybe in 25 years time someone will use this as a guide to a city walk? Seems less likely as a webpost than a book though…

Want more city walks. Great fun. Where next?


Neil March 16, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Serious comment here…. I think you should do a blog of a walk around your garden !! Would be a fun way to see things, and have your comments on various aspects of it. Maintain the light hearted humour of Your current blogs, charles… nothing too serious…. I would be willing to accept smug comments about managing to avoid the development of static caravan sites on your land, n stuff…..


Charles March 16, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Nice idea. I did a walk around our Lane but it got censored. But a walk around the garden would work. Anne could take the pics.


Charles March 16, 2014 at 6:42 pm

Giggles is good. Life doesn’t have enough of them. We’ll have to do a Canterbury walk later in the year, but we could well find others. Bath maybe?


Paul Steer March 17, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Very civilized
(apart from the sausages) . The doom was very nice, as you know I like a bit of doom ! Great idea by Neil re :garden walk.


John March 17, 2014 at 3:58 pm

I’ll third the garden walk idea (indeed, ever since Paul blogged a walk around his garden I’ve been thinking of a micro-walk round mine ready for the next Sunday you mitch off!). We have Anne’s view of your garden in her book; it would be nice to have your view of it too.

I’m surprised you didn’t test our powers of observation by asking how many photos of you there were (I did notice the semi-selfie). But I disagree with Paul – the sausage shop was civilised. Well at least they got the spelling right with a “T” rather than a “D”.

I particularly like the lighting/texture of your hands in the waistcoat shot. One looks like cast bronze, even gold; the other like clay (well they do to me).


Charles March 17, 2014 at 7:30 pm

Thanks for the vote for a garden walk, John. Will put that into the pipeline then for later in the year. That’s fun that you noticed something about the waistcoat pic. I keep looking at my hands, too. I don’t know if it was something about what I did with the pic at processing stage. They are showing my age!


Charles March 17, 2014 at 7:35 pm

“Civilized” !!!! I think you are funny sometimes, which means I don’t really understand you. How was it civilized? Civic/ Civilzed? Is that it? Am I being dense. And how is the sausage joke uncivilized. I shall grill you when I see you next. Have you noticed how often churches feature in my blogs? They are there in the next two, too. Are they civilized?


Paul Steer March 17, 2014 at 10:57 pm

Civilized : courteous, polite, genteel, urbane, refined.


Anne Wareham March 18, 2014 at 12:12 am

O, that’s Charles all right……


Paul Steer March 18, 2014 at 6:48 am

Yes !

marice March 17, 2014 at 7:17 pm

Lots of lovely memories when we would off to Salisbury from Blandford for shopping and lunch at the Red Lion, beautiful courtyard, (like the White Hart in Exeter) and some stunning carved furniture in the dining room. Food was good too. Please blog walk Shrewsbury I would love to know if it is worth visiting!


Charles March 17, 2014 at 7:26 pm

Hello! How nice of you to pop up! Its really strange that both you and Neil had such a strong and positive relationship with Salisbury and I didn’t know. As for Shrewsbury, Anne and I had a holiday there years and years ago. Decades. I remember we got bored. Though I found a lovely necklace for Anne on that trip, I think, but that might not have been in Shrewsbury. My Mum reads this blog (though never comments!”) and knows Shrewsbury well, so maybe she will put her six pennyworth in.


Neil March 17, 2014 at 8:29 pm

Hmm… Churches civilised?… Given the atrocities committed in the name of organised religions, I’m never too sure how civilised anything is,that is linked to it….. But many churches are magnificent structures, requiring great artistic conceptualisation, splendid craftspersonship, and stonking constructual organisation, all of which indicate a high level of civility… So, yeah, I reckon.


julia March 21, 2014 at 5:35 pm

a few selfies?


Charles March 23, 2014 at 7:01 pm

Good idea. A much underrated phenomenon. Though I note the absence of selfies in your own blog!


Jessica A. Hawes March 22, 2014 at 11:11 am

The old Shrewsbury that I knew from my school days has been swallowed up by ugly modern buildings and shopping malls. But it still has many fine Tudor houses and delightful nooks and crannies – if you search them out. The churches are all worth a visit and so is the Dingle – and there is always “Sabrina fair” – the Severn winding its way round. Lots of steep ups and down tho’ so wear sensible shoes. Ma


Charles March 23, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Well that was a few years ago…..I can’t see us making a base in Shrewsbury for a holiday again, though I’m sure it does have its good bits. Now that you have shown that you can get to grips with making comments here, you’ll have to instruct that brother of yours.


Karin Muir May 31, 2015 at 10:52 am

Just found your blog when looking for walks around a Grovely Wood. I live in Salisbury, have done all my life, and have just read this one about your tour of the city. The only correction I would like to make is the jewellers you said was formerly Ratners wasn’t the one you photographed. It was the one to the right of Goldsmiths. To see the wattle and daub you needed to go upstairs in Cotswolds Outdoor. It and Crew Clothing were once a large shop called Watsons which sold china, glass and other expensive items, and said to be haunted, as are many places in Salisbury,


Charles May 31, 2015 at 12:23 pm

Thanks for taking the trouble to add these very interesting corrections!


Charles March 18, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Heh heh ! Some of the time.


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