24 January 2012

Salisbury Cathedral & Stonehenge. . .

On our last morning on the Isle of Wight, we packed up, snapped some pictures outside "our" castle apartment, and got in a few good looks around. . .then it was off to the ferry!

Driving out the gate.

We were able to explore the ferry a little more on the trip back to Southampton. . 

We had read about Salisbury Cathedral in one of the brochures we picked up on the Isle of Wight. . .we knew that it houses the Magna Carta and that its spire is the tallest in Britain (404 feet above ground).  We hadn't consciously decided to stop there, but on the way to Stonehenge, we saw the spire and turned around.  It is really an awesome church to visit. . .and at this point, it's one of our favorite buildings we've seen!

The foundation stones were laid in 1220, and construction went on for 25 years.  There were a handful of later additions, including the tower and spire--added between 1297 and 1320.  The additional 6, 500 tons of stone actually caused the central supports to bend, so buttresses were added to keep it upright.

All throughout the property there were modern sculptures. . .I can't decide how I felt about them.  The kids liked looking for them, but it seemed to me that they took a little bit away from the impressive history of the church.
Various popes, bishops, etc. . and this guy lined the outside walls.

The whole church was filled with tombs--regular services are still held here; can't imagine sliding into a seat next to poor William here:

This beautiful blue window below is dedicated to "prisoners of conscience" throughout the world--those who have been imprisoned for their beliefs without even committing a violent or illegal act.  They hold early morning services here (it's in the Trinity Chapel--the first part of the cathedral to be built) because the window is east-facing and the colors fill the room.

Keith is trying out the Bumping Stone. .

The new choir boys were led to the stone, and their heads were gently bumped seven times while reciting: "We bump you a chorister of Salisbury Cathedral according to ancient custom". Interesting early form of hazing!!
Photos weren't allowed to be taken in the Chapter House, which houses the Magna Carta, so this is the closest my camera got. . . .

The Magna Carta here at the Cathedral is one of the four original copies.  Two more are in London at  the British Library, and the last is at Lincoln Cathedral (about an 1 1/2 north of us).  The Magna Carta is a crude bill of rights that forms the basis of English law; the "personal liberties that the Great Charter guaranteed to the English" were incorporated into the U.S. Bill of Rights.  Needless to say, it was an impressive thing to stand and look at.

Then we were off to Stonehenge. . .the first picture below is the view from the road.  We were just driving along, looking out across the fields. . and then it was: "Oh, there's Stonehenge!"  It was one of those moments that was a little unreal.  Never in a million years would I have ever thought I  would have a chance to visit Stonehenge!!

This was about as close as we could get to the stones; the car park was across the road, so no Griswold European Vacation mishaps while backing up. . .the stones were still standing when we left!

The first Stonehenge was constructed about 5,000 years ago, and was just a circular ditch and bank.  By 2500 BC, the timber structures that were there began to rot, so stones were brought in from all over the United Kingdom.  Then came 800 years of construction and alteration; by the end of those years, Stonehenge was the greatest temple in Britain.  There is still a lot of mystery surrounding how and why it was built and what the arrangement of the stones mean. 

That's the end of our Fall Break/Isle of Wight adventure--Finally! :)