Salisbury Cathedral – then and now

Salisbury Cathedral has been painted by several artists, including Turner and Constable. On finding a postcard of Constable’s painting “Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows” we thought it might be fun to try to find the same angle and photograph it – noting what may have changed in the intervening period since 1831 when he painted it one year after the death of his wife. The painting now hangs in the UK National Gallery in London.

Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows - John Constable

Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows – John Constable (Image credit:

The water meadows are still around, but have moved a little further over. And the water is now mostly underground. In fact there is a small capstone in the cathedral beneath the tower where they lower a dipstick each day to measure the water level – which is only 27 inches beneath. So the water depicted in Constable’s painting is still there, as are the water meadows.

Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral

Today the farmer’s dray is replaced by a white van, and green lawn and autumn leaves mark the path of the water course.

The building is amazing today – but imagine how it must have appeared to visitors in the middle ages, living in wooden houses and cramped conditions. It is simply breathtaking – there are more posts to come on this one!

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7 Responses to Salisbury Cathedral – then and now

  1. Anneliese says:

    Beautiful – interesting perspective. Those old drawings are wonderful!

  2. Jan Lennie says:

    I love Salisbury Cathedral – did you manage to visit the interesting museums in Salisbury ? Does this mean you’re near a meet up in Bath ?

  3. Jan Lennie says:

    By the way , the cloisters were there in Constables day (circa 1829) – Planned from 1220 but enlarged and rebuilt with stone vaults in the 1250s and 1260s in the English Gothic style. Largest in area in England. Originally partly glazed. 190 ft (58 metres) of squared walk way – 18ft (5.5 metres) way. The Cloisters were used for daily processions. They were used as a prison in the Civil War period (mid 17th century) after the Dean & Chapter were abolished. The 2 enormous cedars were planted in 1837 – they just dont show well in this painting – this one is clearer

    • Thanks Jan – yes you are correct of course – and I’ve amended the post accordingly πŸ™‚ Constable’s depiction made it look quite unclear – but then he was known for moving inconvenient bits of the landscape around πŸ™‚

  4. Celia says:

    If you like cathedrals with their feet in the water, you must visit Winchester and go into the crypt. It should be looking good since we’ve had some rain – and there’s a sculpture in there by Antony Gormley which looks it’s best in the wet.

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