Salisbury and Wilton
City of Salisbury. The city of Salisbury stands in a valley at the confluence of the rivers Avon, Bourne and Nadder. It is a cathedral city, and the Cathedral is one of the finest examples of Early English architecture in the country. Salisbury did not always stand where it does today; it was originally situated on the hilltop site of Old Sarum, 2 miles to the north, which was successively occupied by Britons, Romans, Saxons and Normans. The city was moved from Old Sarum at the beginning of the 13th century to its present position on a plan devised by Richard Poore, the then Bishop of Sarum. It is one of the earliest examples of town planning and many straight broad streets running north to south and east to west which form ‘chequers’ or squares bear witness to Bishop Poore’s work. By virtue of its location the city has always been of natural importance and the development of the great training ground of Salisbury Plain, with its permanent camps, its airfields and its ranges, has resulted in Salisbury having close ties with the Services. Tourist Information 01722 342860.
Wilton is 3 miles west of Salisbury and lies at the confluence of the rivers Wylye and Nadder. The town is older than England itself; King Egbert proclaimed the union of the two ancient Kingdoms of Wessex and Kent from his palace in Wilton in AD 838. The foundations of this palace are believed to lie buried beneath Kingsbury Square.
Wilton was granted its first Charter by Henry I in about 1100 and was a Municipal Borough up to 1974. The first Charter and subsequent Charters are all in existence and may be seen on request to the Town Clerk.
For many centuries Wilton has been the centre of the sheep trade for the whole of this part of the country and up to the end of the last century as many as 120,000 sheep were sold at the Great Fair held in September. In all, four sheep fairs are held each year, on the second Thursday in August, September, October and November. For some years there was a considerable decline in the number of sheep in the country and the fairs were greatly reduced, but there are now indications that the sheep population is again increasing and the fairs becoming busier.
The fair held in September is claimed to be the largest in the South West of England and is held by virtue of a Charter granted to the town by King Henry VI in 1433.
Wilton House has been the seat of the Earls of Pembroke for 400 years. It is open to visitors and has a superb collection of works of art. The Grounds, House and Restaurant open between April and September. Check website for times, prices etc. www.wiltonhouse.com
Wilton Shopping Village
The Wilton Shopping Village offers you a unique shopping experience – good value in an historic, riverside setting. You’ll find a wide range of factory outlet shops all with discount prices. Leading brands in fashion, textiles, glassware, china, golf equipment and much, much more – not to mention the finest names in carpets from The Wilton Carpet Factory Shop. In addition to the restaurant, which is situated inside the Edinburgh Woollen Mill shop, you can also enjoy the exhibition * and children’s play area, or just relax and watch the river wind its way by. With so much to see and enjoy you can spend the whole day here without spending a fortune. * Tours of Wilton Carpet Factory are also available.