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Salisbury is known as ‘the city in the countryside’, and the sight of the magnificent Cathedral rising up from the water-meadows  – a view made so famous in the landscape paintings of John Constable – quickly makes it clear why the name is well deserved. On my city tour we’ll explore the Cathedral, set in eight secluded acres of garden in the walled Cathedral Close, uniquely and harmoniously built in only one architectural style and boasting Britain’s highest spire. We’ll see the best copy of the Magna Carta, signed by King John in 1215 – I’ll explain the background to and importance of this historic document – and Europe’s oldest working clock, dating from 1386. For the energetic there’s the chance to climb the tower to enjoy a panoramic view of this mediaeval city with its half-timbered buildings. Apart from the Cathedral, you can then choose to see one of Salisbury’s historic houses –  Arundel’s, the last home of former Prime Minister Edward Heath and devoted to his life, interests and collections – or Mompesson House, a gem from the Queen Anne period and which featured in the film ‘Sense and Sensibility’. Or we can travel just outside town to see  Old Sarum, a vast Iron Age hill fort was where the first Salisbury cathedral once stood and with archaeological remains from the Roman, Norman and Saxon periods. A visit to Salisbury is the perfect introduction to English provincial life and a welcome change of pace from bustling London.

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