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Salisbury Cathedral and Refectory plan to stay as close to home as possible. Salisbury Cathedral Shop and its food...

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Posted By : Amber Rawlings Tuesday 9th August 2016

Salisbury Cathedral and Refectory plan to stay as close to home as possible. Salisbury Cathedral Shop and its food suppliers, Levy restaurants, are looking closer to home for the products and food they sell to Cathedral visitors.


Earlier this year shop manager, Helen Russell, decided to expand the local focus in the shop by consolidating relationships with existing regional suppliers and introducing new lines. From a business point of view Helen believes it makes sense:

“I am very keen to support the local economy and there is plenty of talent around our region. Having your supplier on the doorstep means that you can develop a conversation about what you want and what sells – and suppliers can pop in and try ideas out on you.

“We had a great hit with David Burton’s Magna Carta Chutney, selling out almost as soon as it came into the shop. I think David really grasped what the Cathedral and Magna Carta 800 was about and what visitors would want. It had an authenticity about it that people liked.”


Refectory Manager Kevin Oborne of Levy Restaurants echoes Helen Russell’s sentiments:

“People like the idea that the food they are eating is made on the premises and as fresh as it can be. Visitors like to know where their food comes from and, even better, that it has been made by Lewis, our head chef, and his team in the kitchens here.


“Amongst our best sellers are the homemade soups, fresh salads and deli sandwiches which are prepared onsite daily. In the tea rooms the New Forest Ice Cream has been a big hit over summer… but we can’t do it all. With up to 700 visitors a day in the Refectory and Tea Rooms we have to be realistic. I’d say around 95% of what we use is made here and I’m happy with that – the rest is high quality and all teas and coffees are Fairtrade.”


Having a fully manned kitchen means that Kevin can adapt his menus to suit his visitors. He and Lewis Burns, his head chef, look carefully at what people want to eat and can respond very quickly to feedback. As Lewis points out:

“When you are visiting you are often on a schedule but don’t always want a mass produced, off-the-shelf meal. Something nourishing but nice that reflects the place in which you are eating goes down really well. We major on fresh and we change our menus with the seasons. Cream teas are very English and very popular with visitors, our Mediterranean/European-with-a twist healthy lunches do well too, and morning pastries and coffee are key sellers.”


For the suppliers local feels good too. Helen Russell’s clients enjoy the one-to-one relationship that supplying locally provides and the opportunity to discuss their products face-to-face. Twelve years ago when he retired Steve Hannath, formerly a headteacher and OFSTED inspector, took a Cathedral Tower tour – and that tour set him off on a whole new career as an author.


Having trained as a Tower Guide Steve became fascinated by the raw materials used to create the building. The result was The Cathedral Rocks, a paper on the earth materials used in the construction of Salisbury Cathedral. It was soon followed by a book, Chalk and Cheese: Wiltshire’s rocks and their Impact on the Natural and Cultural Landscapes. His latest venture is a guide to the Cathedral Close.


Ed and Judy Glover have also enjoyed a long relationship with the Cathedral Shop. Based in Wilton, the couple started their award winning pewterware business 22 years ago, making handmade products inspired by the organic shapes of the natural world. In keeping with their natural inspiration, the couple watch their carbon footprint carefully. The lead free pewter is eco-friendly and recyclable and the Cathedral Shop with its international clientele is just down the road.


Other suppliers include Supertogether, the Stockbridge based print product supplier, David Rose, artist and print maker, illustrator Ruth Churchill, photographer Peter Brown, jam maker Sarah Marks from Gomeldon, whose handmade preserves are naturally made with fruit sugar, and of course, David Burton, the chutney maker whose hobby has developed into a flavour range.


“Ten years ago, when I took up chutney making as a hobby I had no idea where it would take me but relationships with local outlets like Salisbury Cathedral, the annual Downton Cuckoo Fair and nearby farm shops have meant that I could develop the business steadily and naturally. I’ve enjoyed every moment of it and I have met lots of interesting people in the process.”


Helen Russell has to pick her products carefully. After more than 15 years running the Cathedral Shop she knows what will and won’t sell and those products can’t always be sourced locally, but she’s always on the lookout and has plans to extend the range if she can find the right goods.

Anyone interested in selling locally at Salisbury Cathedral should contact Helen by email only which should include a description of their products and price plan.


For any other enquiries contact Marie Thomas or 01722 555148