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Salisbury, diocese of

Salisbury, diocese of. Now roughly conterminous with Wiltshire and Dorset, the see was founded c.1075 when the West Saxon bishopric of Sherborne, united with Ramsbury in 1058, was moved to Old Sarum. From 1496 to 1499 the Channel Islands, previously under Coutances, were temporarily attached to Salisbury before passing on to Winchester. In 1542 Dorset and some Wiltshire parishes were incongruously assigned to the new Bristol diocese until 1836, when Salisbury regained Dorset. Bristol retains the north Wiltshire deaneries. Some medieval bishops were significant as officers of the crown. Most distinguished of all, perhaps, was Roger of Salisbury (1107–39), responsible, as Henry I's justiciar, for major developments in royal administration. Others include Hubert Walter (1189–93), later archbishop and justiciar under Richard I and John; Richard Poore (1217–28), scholar and noted ecclesiastical administrator; John Waltham (1388–95), treasurer of England in the turbulence of Richard II's reign; Gilbert Burnet (1689–1715), historian and Whig supporter of William III. The Norman cathedral, built next to the castle by Osmund the first bishop, at Old Sarum, north of the modern city, is now a ruin, but replaced on lower ground by the present magnificent cathedral, conceived by Herbert Poore (1197–1217), begun by his brother Richard in 1220, and completed c.1258. The exterior is a splendid example of Early English architecture with its slender 14th-cent. spire, the tallest in England, rising 404 feet above the water-meadows. Liturgically important was the Sarum Rite, largely compiled by Richard Poore, widely used in the late Middle Ages and an important source for the 16th-cent. English Prayer Book.

Revd Dr William M. Marshall

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