“There is no doubt in my mind that Salisbury Cathedral is the single most beautiful structure in England and the Close around it the most beautiful space.”
Bill Bryson (Notes from a Small Island)
The Sarum Experience offers an opportunity to live in the Close in Salisbury, England, at Sarum College for a week.
Explore an English medieval city, soak in the daily atmosphere of an English Cathedral Close, and have an in depth insight into the life of a Cathedral – the full tour including the tower, the stonemasons and the glaziers, the ministry to tourists, congregation and city, the choir, the arts programme, the cathedral’s daily worship and music.
Each week will also focus on a chosen theme:
1. Digging into the early history – In the early days Wiltshire was one of the most densely populated parts of Britain. It is the county of ancient paths, Stonehenge, Old Sarum, Avebury, Silbury Hill and the East Kennett Long Barrow. All these will be visited during the programme with expert advice about the kind of society that was developing both before and after the Roman Occupation. We shall be able to monitor the development of a mediaeval city with its cathedral and explore how some of the basic assumptions we have about community life and worship have come to shape the ways we live today. In the Chapter House of the cathedral resides one of the original copies of Magna Carta, and we shall be able to learn about the development of Western ideas of equality under the law.
2. Exploring the history of spirituality in Britain – Many of our contemporary understandings of spirituality have been shaped by the writings of British writers and poets. This programme will look at the work of Julian of Norwich and John Donne; we shall be able to visit and sit in the church where George Herbert crafted many of his poems and hymns; we shall explore Celtic and more contemporary traditions. This programme will have a prayerful and reflective feel, as it will focus not only on head but also on heart.
3. Reading the novels inspired by Salisbury – The Close at Salisbury has inspired some great novels – The Barchester Chronicles by Anthony Trollope, The Spire by William Golding, The Starbridge novels by Susan Howatch, Sarum by Edward Rutherford, The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett to name some of the most well known. This programme will be like an extended book group guided by a literary scholar. You will be able to read and study the books in the setting in which they were inspired and sometimes even written.
4. Perspectives on Church life in the UK – The key question this programme will explore is: How is the Christian Church in the UK responding to its radical secular culture? The week will provide an opportunity to discuss issues relating to ecclesiology, ministry, spirituality and mission. The Cathedral will provide one important context as church attendance in the UK is increasing in cathedrals. It will provide opportunities to meet with local church leaders from both traditional and emergent churches, both urban and rural and study how they are responding to the challenges of being the church in today’s world. This programme will be especially valuable to clergy and lay leaders who are exploring the impact of cultural change on their church lives.
5. Other specialised programmes as requested by groups. These may have added programme costs.
A suggested pattern for each week to be adjusted according to the interest and needs of the particular group and its leader:
|Friday||Arrive at Sarum in time for tea, evensong, evening meal at Sarum and welcome, orientation to the specific programme and social time.|
|Saturday||A guided walking tour of the Close in the morning, lunch out, and a guided walk in the City. Evensong in the cathedral, evening meal out in Salisbury or in college (extra cost £12).|
|Sunday||Morning service in the cathedral and lunch at Sarum. Visit in the afternoon to Old Sarum the original site of the Roman encampment, city and cathedral.|
|Monday||Tour of the Cathedral, visit to the workshops, tower tour, lunch in the Cathedral refectory (own cost) talk on the ministry and mission of the cathedral, evensong. Evening meal at Sarum and free evening.|
|Tuesday||These days will be customized according to the programme chosen. One could expect a morning lecture or seminar before making visits in programmes 1 & 2. Programmes 3 & 4 are likely to be more Sarum based and we might expect lunches to be offered. Thursday evening will have a concluding programme dinner at Sarum.|
|Friday||Breakfast and return to Heathrow or other visits as planned.|
Contact our hospitality team for more information
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