Salisbury

“No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right.”
– Magna Carta

My father-in-law wins, hands down, for finding accommodation for a trip through the southwest of England. We provided the itinerary and travel suggestions, he came up with the most wonderful housing finds. We did a five day loop through Salisbury, Bath, the Cotswolds, and Oxford  to take in the sights and he was armed with guidebooks and things to do at every step of the way. And with not a single miss!

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Salisbury is a small, but completely charming city. The center is a delightful hodgepodge of medieval through 20th century architecture and most of the historic sites and buildings are fantastically preserved. Unless you like history it might not be in your typical travel plans, but let me heartily recommend it as a stopping point on the way West from London. We stayed in a B&B called Cricket Field House that was very lovely and nicely appointed, and was just over a five minute drive from convenient and free/cheap parking near the cathedral.

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The Breakfast Room won me over for a very important reason: the liberal use of Blue Willow china. It may be ridiculous, but that’s what my family has always owned and used and nothing in the world makes me feel more at home. The staff is fantastically friendly and helpful. I chatted with the breakfast server for quite a bit, and the gentleman who owns the establishment, when he heard where we hoped to eat that evening made a quick call to be sure that we could be accommodated immediately, without even being asked. In the interest of honesty, I also feel compelled to report that as we were leaving after breakfast a tiny and fluffy black puppy made an escape from the home portion of the house and put in an appearance by dashing across Jeff’s shoes before being snatched up by me. Puppies have a rather alarming effect on my brain so even though I’d decided that Cricket Field House was a delight, she sealed the bargain.

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After parking the car we walked across the river and took in the views.

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The New Inn is a bit of a misnomer, since it was built in the 15 century and remains essentially identical today. But we’ll let nomenclature slide because it was a great place to eat. Traditional hearty pub food, with a very nice sticky toffee pudding it has to be said.

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The interior is tilted and uneven in the best possible way, with low beams and paneled rooms, open fireplaces and hidden corners.

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And the view from the garden? Not half bad!

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I took enormous delight in how the lowest beams have been altered to accommodate our modern heights with handy leather padding. It’s still about a foot above my head, but Jeff pronounced them not only useful but necessary.

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After dinner we went for a late night stroll by the cathedral, to which we returned on the following day to see the best preserved version of the Magna Carta in existence (the Magna Carta is celebrating it’s 800th birthday next year, incidently), to gander at the supposedly oldest working clock in the modern clock in the world, and admire the various medieval and Tudor minions and courtiers buried there. I got to study up on the 1st Baron Hungerford who fought in the Battle of Agincourt, and his grandson the 3rd Baron who famously got into a land dispute with a family named Paston–through the Paston family letters we have some of the best information about the life and experiences of the up-and-coming gentry class in the Middle Ages.

Virginia might be for lovers, kittens, but Salisbury is for history people!

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