Of some 300 workmen who built the famed Salisbury Cathedral in the 13th century, less than a handful could read and write, said Gerry Wood. Most lived in hovels where they couldn’t stand without stooping, he added.
Yet these 300, in 38 years, built one of the world’s architectural marvels – most medieval cathedrals took centuries. Its spire, completed in 1320, is the tallest in the United Kingdom, and at 404 feet, nearly three times the height of the bell tower here in Salisbury at Salisbury University.
“Now Salisbury Cathedral is marking its 800th anniversary” Wood said, “and we’re having a community celebration Wednesday through Friday, May 25-27, to honor it.”
He is event chair and officer in the Salisbury Sister Cities Association, which links the old and new world communities.
On Wednesday, May 25, at 10 a.m. Ray Thompson, History Professor Emeritus of SU and co-founder of the Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture, talks about the two sister cities in “A Tale of Two Salisburys” at the MAC Inc. Senior Center, 909 Progress Circle.
At. 7 p.m., Salisbury Cathedral Director of Music David Halls offers a virtual organ recital performed on the famed Willis Organ in the cathedral, airing at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 115 Saint Peter’s St. (Halls had planned to perform here live “until Covid interfered,” said Wood.)
Thursday, May 26, is Ascension Day in the Anglican Communion and the cathedral holds religious celebrations. At 7 p.m. a cathedral-like religious service marking Ascension Day also will be held at St. Peter’s. An original anthem, “Eternal Monarch,” composed by Halls, will have its world premiere.
Friday, May 27, at 7 p.m. a community program celebrates the cathedral with the Salisbury Children’s Choir; the Community Choir singing an anthem by John Rutter, “This is the Day,” composed for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton; a presentation by SU President Charles Wight about the Magna Carta, revered on both sides of the Atlantic as a symbol of freedom from oppression (the best copy is in the cathedral); a large multimedia presentation about the cathedral; and more.
“Join in celebrating this wonderful milestone,” said Wood. “Sister Cities focuses our attention on a wider world, one in which we can create lasting friendships through cultural understanding, express empathy, and feel connected.”
For more information visit SalisburySisterCities.org.
This salute is made possible through St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and the American Guild of Organists, Salisbury Chapter. Sponsors include the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, Henson Foundation, the Fulton School of Liberal Arts at SU, the Salisbury-Wicomico Arts Council and the city of Salisbury.