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Old Sarum



I'd not thought of this, but the trouble with putting your cathedral in a fort is that all the soldiers get in the way. Apparently.
One its short sheep-bitten turf may yet be traced, in dry weather, the outlines of the foudation walls of its ancient and once splendid cathedral, built by Bishop Osmond - the Conqueror's nephew - but transferred by Bishop Poore in 1220, from that bleak and barren position, into the sheltered vale and fertile meadows of the fishy Avon beneath. Old Aubrey gives the following version of the cause of its removal, which he says he had from Bishop Seth Ward, who extracted it from the musty records of the cathedral.
The old church in the castle of Old Sarum being seated so high was so obnoxious to the weather that when the wind did blow they could not heare the priest say masse. But this was not the only inconvenience. The soldiers of the castle and the priests could never agree; and one day when they were gone without the castle in procession, the soldiers kept them out all night, or longer. Whereupon the bishop, although much troubled, cheered them up as well as he could, telling them he would study to accommodate them better. In order thereunto he rode several tymes to the Lady Abbesse at Wylton to have bought or exchanged a piece of ground with her ladyship to build a church and homes for the priests. A poor woman at Quidhampton that was spinning in the street, sayd to one of her neighbours, "I marvell what the matter is that the bishop makes so many visits to my lady; I trow he intends to marry her." Well the bishop and her ladyship could not conclude about the land, and the bishop dreamt that the Virgin Mary came to him and told him she would have him build his church at Merrifield, and dedicate it to her. Merrifield was a great meadow where the city of New Sarum now stands and did belong to the bishop, as now the whole city belongs to him.
From an article about books on Wiltshire in 'The Quarterly Review' for January 1858.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
9th May 2016ce

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