We set our GPS coordinates for Salisbury Cathedral and it took only 20 min (14km) to get to the city.  Car park in the Cathedral Close is open during the day and cost 6GBP* per day or you can use Park and Ride car parks – park your car for free* and take a bus into the city centre, more info here.

Salisbury is charming city with red brick buildings dotted around it, which we have to grown to love by now, sitting at the confluence of five rivers: the Adder, Ebble, Wylye and Bourne, which are tributary to the Hampshire Avon.  It is the only city in the county and with population just above 40 000.

Gothic Salisbury Cathedral, built in 13th century and has the tallest spire and the largest cloisters in England, Salisbury, Wiltshire

Gothic Salisbury Cathedral, built in 13th century and has the tallest spire and the largest cloisters in England, Salisbury, Wiltshire

Salisbury is a city that has been many centuries in the making. Its origins are just 3km north of the city a place called Old Sarum – a hill fort constructed during Iron Age between 600BC and 300BC. Old Sarum has been occupied by Romans, later invaded by Saxons, then forgotten and later restored after Viking invasions, just to be abandoned by its habitants and burned down by Dano-Norwegian King in 1003.  It subsequently became the site of Wilton’s mint and following Norman invasion the first Salisbury Cathedral was completed at the end of 11th century, but in 1220 work on the new cathedral building, the present Salisbury Cathedral, began in New Sarum – nowadays Salisbury – city only got its present name in 2009.  Old Sarum is currently open to public, where you can explore the origins of the old town and stand in the footprints of first and former Salisbury Cathedral.

Present Salisbury Cathedral is built in Early English Gothic style. Many of the stones for the new cathedral were taken from the old one and it was completed quickly – only in 38 years. But the famous 123m spire was built much later in mid 14th century, currently it is the tallest spire in England. Salisbury Cathedral is also home to Magna Carta – the Great Charter, famous as a symbol of justice, fairness and human rights. For centuries it has inspired and encouraged movements for freedom and constitutional government in Britain and around the world. Only four of the original 1215 copies of Magna Carta remain and the best preserved one is on display in Salisbury Cathedral’s Chapter House.

After the new Cathedral was built, people started flocking to New Sarum and by the 14th century it was the largest settlement in Wiltshire. The city wall surrounding the Cathedral Close was built in the 14th century using the stones also removed from the old cathedral. It originally had four gates: the High Street Gate, St Ann’s Gate, the Queen’s Gate, and St Nicholas’s Gate, but in 19th century a fifth one was constructed to allow access to Bishop Wordsworth’s School in the Cathedral Close.

14th century gateway into the Cathedral Close at Salisbury, the gate is still locked at night - North - High Street Gate, Salisbury

14th century gateway into the Cathedral Close at Salisbury, the gate is still locked at night – North – High Street Gate, Salisbury

On Silver Street / Minster Street junction you will find an unusual stone construction – Poultry Cross.

Poultry Cross is marking the site of former poultry, fruit and vegetable market – built in the 14th century, Salisbury

Poultry Cross is marking the site of former poultry, fruit and vegetable market – built in the 14th century, Salisbury

Poultry Cross is marking the site of former poultry, fruit and vegetable market – built in the 14th century, but the top part redesigned in the 18th century. It is the only remaining one of four other market crosses: Cheese Cross for trading cheese and milk, Barnwell or Barnard’s Cross for livestock and another Market Place was for trading wool and yarn.

As we roaming further down the streets of Salisbury, I had no doubt in my mind why the city was mentioned as a must see in so many itineraries. Impressive buildings, charming little streets bustling with tourists and locals alike creating that holiday atmosphere we love. Everything was in a short walking distance and with little effort you would see the most of the city. If it wasn’t for our rumbling tummies, we nearly would have forgotten about lunch.

Though it doesn’t take too long to find a place for having a meal, there are plenty of pubs and restaurants for every taste, we had our hearts set on The King’s Head Inn on Bridge Street to try their Fish Friday menu. It wouldn’t be a proper visit to Britain without once trying a proper “Fish and Chips” meal. And it was delicious.

 

The King's Head Inn has been occupied by an inn since the 15th century and it was known as the King's Head and Brewery until it was rebuilt in the 1880s and renamed as The County Hotel.

The King’s Head Inn has been occupied by an inn since the 15th century and it was known as the King’s Head and Brewery until it was rebuilt in the 1880s and renamed as The County Hotel.

 

Across the Avon River from The King’s Head In  is Fisherton Street Clock Tower, locally nicknamed as “Little Ben”, built in 1892 on site of the former prison – Fisherton gaol (1569 – 1823) and presented to the city by Dr J. Roberts in memory of his late wife Arabella. The river also marked the City boundary until 1835.

Fisherton Street Clock Tower locally nicknamed as “Little Ben”, built in 1892 by Dr J. Roberts on site of the former prison - Fisherton gaol

Fisherton Street Clock Tower locally nicknamed as “Little Ben”, built in 1892 by Dr J. Roberts on site of the former prison – Fisherton gaol

If you cross the foot bridge from The King’s Head Inn towards The Mill restaurant (Bishop’s Mill) you will walk in to The Maltings, where you find shopping area and also some cafes and pubs and lovely gardens alongside the banks of the river Avon.

After some browsing around the shops and city we are heading back to our hotel in Lydiard Park, to continue our journey to Lacock village tomorrow.

New day new start, the sun is out and it is a very hot today. After some breakfast we pack our bags and load them in the car – we will be staying in Lee Valley tonight on the way to Stansted airport. Today we have two planned activities to visit Lacock village and Roman baths in Bath.

After setting the GPS coordinates for Lacock abbey, we are on the road again. Lacock is a little historic village frozen in time with its picturesque streets and historic buildings, 6 km from the town of Chippenham. Village is loved by many film makers; it has been featured in movies like “Harry Potter”, “Pride and Prejudice”, “The Other Boleyn Girl”, “The Wolfman” and also in TV series like “Larkrise to Candleford”, “Lost in Austen”, and many other films requiring an authentic background.

 

Lacock village – High street near Red Lion

Lacock village – High street near Red Lion

Although the village dates back to the 13th century, most of the houses are 18th century or earlier in construction. There is a 14th century tithe barn – for storing tithes—one tenth of a farm’s produce which was given to the Church, a medieval 14th century church, and an inn dating from the 15th century and an 18th century lock-up.

St. Cyriac’s church – built in 14th century

The history of Lacock Village is very much linked to the Abbey. It was founded in early 13th century by Ela Countess Dowager of Salisbury, she inherited her title and lands of her late father. After the death of her husband William Longespee the illegitimate son of Henry II, she became Sheriff of the County of Wiltshire. Few years later Countess joined the abbey as a nun and later she became its first abbess.  Lacock developed a thriving wool industry during the Middle Ages and the abbey prospered until the mid 16th century, when the dissolution of the monasteries and its demolition took place. The Abbey together with the village were sold to William Sharington and it was converted into a country house. Some of reminders of former abbey have survived till today and are open to public like medieval cloisters, chapter house, sacristy and monastic rooms.

One of the most famous owners was William Henry Fox Talbot, who became the owner of the abbey in late 19th century. William was an amateur scientist and inventor, he became interested in the early stages of the technical side of photography and in 1835 he made what may be the earliest surviving photographic camera negative – a view of the oriel window in the south gallery of the Abbey.  William’s experiments eventually led to his invention of colotype or “Talbotype” – a photographic process using paper coated with silver iodide. His techniques were the basis of present day photography. Today William Henry Fox Talbot work is shown in the Fox Talbot Museum of Photography by the Abbey grounds.

In 1916 the Abbey and estate were passed on to William Henry Fox Talbot’s granddaughter Matilda Talbot, she donated Lacock Abbey, together with most of the village and Manor Farm to the National Trust between 1944 and 1946 and it is still owned by National Trust today.

While wandering around the village you will notice many unmanned sale stations – some berries, herbs & plants, shopping bags etc. These are based on honesty of tourists – take one leave money behind, just an easy way for locals making a little extra cash. Just wondering how honest the tourists really are…

Unmanned plant & herbs sale station – based on honesty of tourists – take one leave money behind, Lacock village

 

Entrance to the village and St. Cyriac’s church is free, but there are entry fees to The Abbey and Fox Talbot museum.

While roaming the picturesque streets of Lacock village, we even didn’t notice how quickly the time had passed away, and after some debates we decided to give a miss to the Roman baths in Bath – we still have nearly a two hour drive to Cheshunt to conquer. Roman baths will have to wait till next time.

After arriving in Cheshunt and checking in at YHA London Lee Valley Hostel, we just had to take the advantage of sun (we don’t get much of it in Ireland) and went for a walk in nearby River Lee Country Park – part of Lee Valley Park stretching for 42km along the river Lea (Lee). Cheshunt just 20 min train ride away from London, so it actually would make a nice base camp for visiting London and it also has connection to Stansted airport.

But the best part of Cheshunt was our dinner in Emmi Restaurant serving Turkish cuisine. It was a Saturday and the restaurant was full, but we were very welcomed even without a reservation. We loved the vibe of the place and food was sooo delicious.

Emmi Restaurant - Cheshunt

Emmi Restaurant – Cheshunt

Our order consisted of mixed starter for two: “Meze” – platter of humus, cacik, saksuka, tabule, kisir, falafel and börek for £6.95, and 2 Mixed Grill’s as main – grilled chicken, lamb and kofte for £9.95 each.

Portions were very generous and also there was a lovely complimentary serving of bread, hummus and salad at the start. Well to be honest it was difficult to finish it all, once we got to the main we were nearly full, so if you are a light eater consider not take a starter.

The best bit was our main – Mixed Grill. Who knew that chicken can taste soo delicious, and the grilled lamb was absolutely amazing, and that’s a lot coming from a person that even doesn’t like lamb or maybe I have been eating it at the wrong restaurants obviously.

Well Emmi Restaurant was the perfect end for our little adventure as we say goodbye to England and heading back to the rainy Ireland.

Flights:

Our flights where from Kerry airport to London Stansted airport serviced by Ryanair.

Car rental:

We rented a car from Stansted airport through Economy Car Rentals, our preferred company for getting the best car rental deal, their customer service is excellent, and we have never had any problems with our bookings so far.

First car rental company they assigned to us had sooo many bad reviews online of people being scammed to pay extra for damages. We have been renting cars all over the Europe, but never had I come across so many bad reviews as the ones for London based car rentals. And it really got me worried, but after contacting the customer services, they provided us a good deal with a far better company Enterprise Rent-A-Car – and we had no issues with the car or company what so ever and they charged only 200 GBP deposit instead of the advertised 800GBP deposit, also they have a clear policy for any scratches – whatever is bigger than a golf ball is a damage to the car. The only extra we optioned out to get was damage to the windscreen, while driving on a motor way chip on a windscreen is an easy one to get and it is something out of your control. And while we were collecting our car, there was a car just returned with a chip on windscreen, I hope they got their insurance for windscreen damages.

 Accommodation:

It took a while to find the best location, as nearly all hotels/ hostels were all booked out. But we managed to score a nice hotel at Swindon in Lydiard Park, yes the actual park. So it became our home for 2 nights, they had no rooms left for the 3rd night, so we booked closer to Stansted airport at Cheshunt, Hertfordshire to shorten the drive back the next morning for our flight back home. And it turned out right next to another park – Lee Valley Park. So much fresh air for the weekend…

Avebury – Avebury, Marlborough, Wiltshire, SN8 1RF

Stonehenge – Amesbury, Wiltshire, SP4 7DE

Salisbury:

Old Sarum – Castle Road, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1 3SD (Entrance fee)

Salisbury – Salisbury Cathedral, 6 The Close, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP1 2EJ (Entrance fee to see Magna Carta)

Park and Ride car parks at Salisbury – more info here

Lacock – Lacock Abbey, Lacock, Wiltshire SN15 2LG

Bath – Stall St, Bath, BA1 1LZ

Cheshunt Emmi Restaurant – 59 Turners Hill, Cheshunt, Waltham Cross EN8 8NT

* Information correct as of June 2015