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Salisbury Cathedral Spire

Salisbury Cathedral Spire

Built c.1310-1330, octagonal in shape with a height of 55m/180ft above the tower. The height of the combined tower and spire from ground level is 123m/404ft which is the tallest in England. Among medieval stone towers and spires in Europe it is second in height only to Strasbourg 142m/466ft completed 1439. Post-medieval taller spires, e.g. Cologne and Ulm. Salisbury's Cathedral spire suffered lightning strikes in 1431, 1641 and 1741. The stones are only 20cm/8in thick at the upper 49m/160ft section of the spire.

The upper 15m/50ft can only be inspected by using a weather door on the north side and climbing to the exterior of the spire. At the top of the spire is an iron cross which was removed in 1950 and can now be found in the North Quire Aisle. Wooden framework inside the spire was formerly thought to have been used in construction of the spire but dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) carried out in 2003 suggested that the timber may have been inserted between 1364 and 1376, probably as reinforcement after a severe storm in 1362.

At the base of the spire windlass (in its original medieval form and position but rebuilt in 1762) used to haul up stones. The top 9m/30ft of the spire was rebuilt in 1950 and both spire and tower extensively restored in 1986-1996.

The tower is square in shape, with a height from ground level of 69m/224ft. The top of the upper stage contains 14th century iron ties and  braces, considered by Sir Christopher Wren to be the finest of its kind in Europe. This section also contains a timber frame probably added in the late 17th century. Further iron ties were inserted in 1740 and again in the lower stage in 19th century.