Learning about our sister city across the pond

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 31, 2011

By Rodney Cress
For the Salisbury Post
Having a sister city in Salisbury, England is kind of nice. It is a way to share cultures, talk about family histories, and speak of different types of food, climates, agriculture and how their laws are different from ours. I certainly am proud to be a citizen of Rowan County and I spent a lot of my time in Salisbury. Founded in 1753, we are a part of this country’s great history of becoming a nation. With visits by Daniel Boone, Andrew Jackson, Lord Cornwallis and many others who are known for trips through Salisbury. The Civil War history dominates us and is the most talked about today.
So I got curious about our sister city’s past. What a shocker to discover what they went through to become a city and how long they have been in existence. Salisbury, Wiltshire, began some 2,500 years ago when an iron age fort was built on Salisbury Hill. In the 6th century, the Saxons invaded Wiltshire in 552 and defeated the Celts, forcing them to flee westward. The fort was abandoned for centuries until in 1003 the Vikings raided Wilton and some of the survivors fled to Salisbury Hill and founded a new city with only a market and a mint. Around 1069, William the Conqueror built a wooden castle to overlook the settlement called Sarisberie, with only a few hundred citizens.
Salisbury, Wilshire, began around 1217 when the Bishop created this new town, which was given a charter in 1227. The town became a success with a large market known as the Salisbury fair that was easily traveled to from nearby London. The main industry was making wool cloth, which was exported all over and resulted in Salisbury becoming one of the largest towns in England by the 15th century with a population of 8,000. Salisbury Cathedral is Britain’s finest 13th century cathedral, which began in 1220 and completed in 1258, except for the tower and spire that was added in 1334. It also served as a prison. In 1538, Henry VIII closed down the friaries but left the two hospitals in operation. The plague hit in 1563, 1604 and 1627. In 1642 a civil war between the king and parliament broke out with Salisbury in the middle until 1646 and the king withdrew for a more important battleground. Salisbury stayed in existence mostly with the market and the sale of cloth. It established the first newspaper in 1715. The city grew very little after this, but in 1833 it had gas street lights and its first police force in 1836. Later, there was a railroad in 1847 and their first cinema in 1908. Today, Salisbury, England, is today known for tourism, promoting Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument erected between 3,000 BC and 1,600 BC. Also, its known for its tours of its museums and castles, as well as Market Square, pubs, jazz bands, beautiful gardens and home tours. The world’s best original Magna Carta of 1215 is also on display there.
I find it interesting that two cities with the same name have such different histories but today have similar downtown activities. They have their pride and we have ours. I guess that is what makes the world what it is, and what makes Salisbury what it is — home.