Spire Archive Research | Salisbury Cathedral

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Spire Archive Research

As part of the Cathedral's 2017 'Memory and Identity' event theme we wanted to actively undertake our own research into...

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Spire Archive Research

As part of the Cathedral's 2017 'Memory and Identity' event theme we wanted to actively undertake our own research into the Cathedral's own memory - the archive - to find out more about the Cathedral's most iconic feature, its spire.  We decided to concentrate on the postwar period, specifically the 1950s-1991.  Much of the Cathedral's earliest history has already been well documented but not so much its more recent history so we decided that this project would start to address the balance.


A small but enthusiastic group of five Cathedral volunteers was formed in Autumn 2016 and spent the next nine months visiting the archive and library to consult a wide range of sources. The volunteers who took part were: Alan Castle, John Elliott, Linda Jones, Chris Macey and Pam Wall.  The main documents they consulted were the minutes of meetings of the Cathedral Chapter, annual reports of the Friends' of Salisbury Cathedral, a series of scrapbooks of newspaper cuttings, photographs and records such as architect's reports originally kept by the Cathedral's Works' department.


Initially each researcher noted down possible items of interest from the documents into a spreadsheet.  From this spreadsheet these themes and periods in the spire's history emerged:

  • Restoration in 1950
  • Repair and maintenance in the 1960s and 1970s
  • The 1980s restoration and the 'Save Our Spire' fundraising appeal 
  • How the spire has inspired local artists, poets and authors
  • Birds and the spire


The information in this spreadheet also made it possile to develop a timeline for the spire's recent history.  Alongside the archive research another group of volunteers undertook a series of oral history interviews with those involved in the restoration of the spire or with memories of fundraising for the spire - all the interviews have been added to our archive for the benefit of future researchers.


Each researcher adopted a theme or period and then used the information in the spreadsheet to compile their own historical summary which was used as a basis for a short talk at the Archive Discovery Day held on Saturday 5th August.  All the research also fed directly into an exhibition on the spire held in the Cathedral throughout August until 3 September 2017.  Click here for more information.


You can read the researchers own notes and summaries as well as a time line of work and references to the spire from the archive records in the attached documents below.  


Tower and Spire Timeline - Alan Castle.pdf

Spire Research Project Information Spreadsheet.pdf

The Troublesome Tower and Spire summary of condition reports - John Elliott.pdf

1950 Spire Restoration summary research notes - John Elliott.pdf

Repairs and Maintenance in the 1960s and 1970s research notes - Chris Macey.pdf

1980s Spire Restoration and Fundraising Appeal - Pam Wall.pdf

Culture and Kestrels Inspiring the Arts and Birds notes of a talk - Dr Linda Jones.pdf