Wiltshire Heritage Guide
The cathedral building is marked by the use of dark Purbeck marble in its slender columns, and in sculptured heads cunningly worked into the design of corbels at the triforium level. Apart from this, Salisbury can seem sparse, even bare, but that, too, can be beautiful. The 13th century cloisters are magnificent, with tracery in the Geometric style. The spire is one of the glories of Salisbury. It stands fully 404 feet high, the tallest spire of this age in the world.
If grand architecture does not excite you, why not take in a peaceful village, or two, or three, or .... Wiltshire is blessed with numerous attractive villages, including Castle Combe, which has been called "The prettiest village in England." The setting for the original film version of Doctor Dolittle, Castle Combe maintains an air of timeless calm, in part because visitors must park at the top of the hill and walk down into the centre of the village.
Another contender for the title of prettiest village in Wiltshire is Lacock, where the entire village has been purchased by the National Trust and is maintained with an eye to limiting the incursion of modern civilsation. Lacock is the home of Lacock Abbey, a former monastic house that became a stately home after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century. Lacock is known as the home of Francis Fox-Talbot, one of the innovators responsible for the development of modern photography, and a museum of photography lies just outside the gates of the Abbey.
Stately homes abound in Wiltshire. I've mentioned Lacock, but not far away is Bowood House, one of the finest stately homes in Britain, set in 2000 acres of landscaped grounds by Capability Brown. Near Warminster is another treat, Longleat House. The home of the extrovert artist the Marquis of Bath, Longleat is a children's delight, featuring a variety of family attractions in addition to the world-famous Longleat Safari Park. The house itself is a magnificent example of country house architecture, set in a lovely bowl in the Wiltshire hills.
Wilton House, located just west of Salisbury, is well worth a visit. The family seat of the Earls of Pembroke is famous for its Double Cube Room (60 x 30 x 30 feet), and the sheer magnificence of the furnishings. The house was begun in 1543, with contributions at various points by Inigo Jones, James Wyatt, and William Kent.
From stately homes to quiet countryside, excellent walks are to be had along the Kennet and Avon Canal, where the towpath has been turned into an attractive waterside trail. For longer excursions, take the Ridgeway Path, which starts near Avebury and stretches north-east into Buckinghamshire. The Ridgeway has been used as a trail for thousands of years, and the path passes close to a number of ancient sites.
There you have it, a quick overview of Wiltshire. I hope that this will give you some ideas to help you begin exploring the many and varied delights of the county. You won't be disappointed!