The interior is over-austere, but there’s an amazing sense of space and light in its high nave, despite the sombre pillars of grey Purbeck marble, which are visibly bowing beneath the weight they bear. Monuments and carved tombs line the walls. Don’t miss the octagonal chapter house, which displays a rare original copy of the Magna Carta, and whose walls are decorated with a frieze of scenes from the Old Testament.
Surrounding the cathedral is the Close, a peaceful precinct of lawns and mellow old buildings. Most of the houses have seemly Georgian facades, though some, like the Bishop’s Palace and the deanery, date from the thirteenth century. Mompesson House, built by a wealthy merchant in 1701, contains some beautifully furnished eighteenth-century rooms and a superbly carved staircase. Also in the Close is the King’s House, home to the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum – an absorbing account of local history.