Cathedral prepares for 800th anniversary

SALISBURY will celebrate the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Cathedral, one of the masterpieces of medieval architecture, in 2020, with a series of special events, which will include a spectacular flower festival.

Originally built at what is now Old Sarum, the Cathedral was founded on its present site, on the water meadows of the Avon, in 1220. The flower festival, like the new Brian Munro light installation in the Refectory, will have the theme of Confluence, reflecting the development of the Cathedral and the modern city on the confluence of the Avon with its four tributaries, the Nadder, Ebble, Bourne and Wylye.

More than 300 flower arrangers from across the diocese and region gathered at Salisbury Cathedral for the launch of Confluence, to hear an introduction by the Dean of Salisbury, the Very Revd Nicholas Papadopulos, and Michael Bowyer, the director of cathedral flowers, and his co-designers Angela Turner and Pam Lewis share their vision for the festival, in September 2020.

Reflecting on the Cathedral’s move from the original site and the subsequent 800 years of history, the three award winning designers created large arrangements to inspire their audience and illustrate the colours and types of designs that may be part of the 2020 display.

Michael Bowyer said: “The 2020 theme is movement and our designs will focus specifically on the fact that the Cathedral sits at the confluence of five rivers, which summons up wonderful images of flowing shapes and gorgeous light and colour.”

The 2020 Flower Festival is part of a year-long programme of celebrations, marking the 800th anniversary of the founding of Salisbury Cathedral and the growth of the city within which it sits. The approval to move the Cathedral from Old Sarum to its current site was granted by the Pope in 1219, and the first stone of this remarkable building was laid on 28th April 1220, with the main body of the building completed just 38 years later.

The anniversary celebrations will reflect on the enormous level of human and spiritual endeavour that was required to make this move and develop the city. Themes explored will be how ideas and beliefs shift over time, how faith, art, music, taste and fashions evolve and how new thinking, courage and advocacy move society forward.

There will be a light and sound show inside and outside the Cathedral early in the year, an exhibition featuring 20 works by international sculptors including Henry Moore, Eduardo Paolozzi and Grayson Perry, a city heritage trail and the flower festival.

The spirit of human endeavour and resilience runs deep in Salisbury, as could be seen during the events of last year, and 2020 will mark the fact that we are ready for the next 800 years of movement and change.

Pictured: The Dean addressing the anniversary launch; a display, hinting at the theme of movement, by Michael Bowyer, the director of flowers. Photographs by Ash Mills