Salisbury Cathedral School

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Salisbury Cathedral School
Salisbury Cathedral School, from Catherdal tower.jpg
1 The Close

, ,

Coordinates51°03′50″N 1°47′45″W / 51.063777°N 1.795966°W / 51.063777; -1.795966Coordinates: 51°03′50″N 1°47′45″W / 51.063777°N 1.795966°W / 51.063777; -1.795966
TypeIndependent preparatory day and boarding school
Choral foundation school
MottoDomine dilexi decorem domus tuae[1]
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
Established1091; 928 years ago (1091)
FounderSaint Osmund
Department for Education URN126518 Tables
Chair of GovernorsRobert Key, former MP of Salisbury
HeadmasterMr Clive Marriott
Age3 to 13

Salisbury Cathedral School is a co-educational independent school in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England. It was founded in 1091 by Saint Osmund at Old Sarum.[2][3]


The school was founded by Saint Osmund, the Bishop of Old Sarum and Earl of Dorset, who was recognised for his good works when he was canonised several hundred years later in 1456.[4][5] Osmund was born in Normandy and was a first cousin of William the Conqueror, King of England: William's father, Robert the Magnificent, Duke of Normandy, was the brother of Isabella, Countess of Séez, the mother of Osmund.[4]

The first notable pupil of the school was John of Salisbury, who served Archbishop Thomas Becket until the latter was murdered in 1170. John was quoted by Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine.[6]

Originally, the school would have been housed near the cathedral at Old Sarum. At the start of the 13th century the centre of the Diocese of Salisbury was moved from Old Sarum to its present site. The choristers would then have lodged with various canons in the new Cathedral Close. After 1319, a house was built in The Close to accommodate the School (known as 'The Choristers' House'). The School remained here for the next 300 years. The choristers were educated in the Chancellor's Grammar School nearby.

In 1714, the School moved to a new School House built for it on the north-west side of The Close. This became known as Wren Hall which, with the house connected to it (Braybrooke House), acted as the centre of the school campus until the middle of the 20th century. As this site could not keep pace with the growing size of the School, the school was relocated, in 1946/47, to the former Bishop's Palace in the grounds of the cathedral. The building is designated as a Grade I listed building by English Heritage.[7]

The Choristers of Salisbury Cathedral are educated at the school.

In 1987, the first girls were admitted. In a landmark move, the cathedral became the first in England to allow female choristers when it opened its choristership programme to girls in 1991.[8]

A library partly funded by the former bookstore chain Ottakar's was opened in October 2002. Two members of the Heneage family, who owned the company, were former pupils.

The school featured in a BBC television documentary entitled Angelic Voices: The Choristers of Salisbury Cathedral, which was first broadcast in March 2012.

The school merged with Leaden Hall, an all-girls school in The Close, in March 2016. The combined school is called Salisbury Cathedral School, and the Headmaster remains.[9]


Salisbury Cathedral School (below left of centre)

The school's 27-acre campus[10] is located adjacent to Bishop Wordsworth's School, in the southern part of Salisbury Cathedral Close, which at 80 acres (320,000 m2) is the largest Cathedral Close in Britain.[11] The main school building is the former Bishop's Palace, parts of which date from the building of the cathedral in the 13th century. The pre-preparatory part of the school is located in newer buildings adjacent to the palace, but uses some of the main school facilities. The boarding house is also located in The Close. Sports facilities include football, rugby and cricket pitches, an athletics track, tennis courts/hockey pitches (Astro Turf) and an outdoor swimming pool.


Scholarships are offered on entry to the school at Years 3 and 6, with choral scholarships offered at Years 4 and 5. An exchange programme with pupils from Union High School, South Africa, is available to Year 7 students.

Pupils generally take the Common Entrance Exam at the end of Year 8 and many progress to senior independent schools.[12] Some also leave at Year 6 for local grammar schools, or other independent schools.


The school continues to serve its original function of educating choristers of the cathedral choir. Every year auditions are held for children between ages 7 and 9 and successful applicants receive scholarships to attend the school.[13] It was the first English cathedral to allow girls to become choristers, and is unique in that the girls have equal duties with the boys. Many choristers board in a large boarding house located near the school.[14]

Notable former pupils[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Salisbury Cathedral School Motto: "Domine dilexi decorem domus tuae" Psalm 25:8: 'I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of thy house'. [Originally suggested as the School's motto by Bishop George Moberly - c.1885]
  2. ^ 'The cathedral of Salisbury: From the foundation to the fifteenth century', A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 3 (1956), pp. 156–183. URL: Date accessed: 28 January 2008.
  3. ^ Nicholas Orme, 'School founders and patrons in England, 597–1560', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn, Oxford University Press, Oct 2006, accessed 28 Jan 2008
  4. ^ a b Powicke Handbook of British Chronology p. 81
  5. ^ Robertson, Dora H., Sarum Close (Jonathan Cape, 1938; 2nd.ed. 1969)
  6. ^ Power of a woman:Memoirs of a turbulent life: Eleanor of Aquitaine p.339 by Robert Fripp. ISBN 978-0-9780621-0-1 accessed 24 January 2008
  7. ^ English Heritage Images of England reference no. 318958
  8. ^ History Archived 8 September 2012 at
  9. ^
  10. ^ Salisbury Cathedral School. Pre-Prep School prospectus, accessed January 2008
  11. ^ "Visitor Information, Salisbury Cathedral". Retrieved 25 January 2008.
  12. ^ Curriculum Archived 21 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Choristers
  14. ^ "Day in the Life of a Border". Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Osmond, Stephen E., Register of Past & Present Pupils of the Cathedral School Salisbury (5th.Ed. 2002; publ. Salisbury Cathedral School Association)
  16. ^ Diary of John Evelyn: (6 September 1680)
  17. ^ a b c in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  18. ^ Clay, Christopher: 'Public Finance & Private Wealth; The Career of Sir Stephen Fox', (Oxford University Press, 1978).
  19. ^ Probyn, Clive T.: 'The Sociable Humanist; The Life & works of James Harris' (Oxford University Press. 1991)
  20. ^ Burrows, Donald and Dunhill, Rosemary. 2002. Music and Theatre in Handel's World: The Family Papers of James Harris 1732–1780. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-816654-0.
  21. ^ Harris, James, first earl of Malmesbury (1746–1820), diplomatist by H. M. Scott in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  22. ^ Earle, William Benson, in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  23. ^ Glover, Gareth: Wellington's Lieutenant - Napoleon's Gaoler (The Peninsula Letters & Diaries of Sir George Ridout Bingham) (publ. Pen & Sword Books - 2005)
  24. ^ Ellis on The Comprehensive Guide to the Victoria & George Cross
  25. ^ a b Smith, Peter L.: In the Shadow of Salisbury Spire (publ. The Hobnob Press - 2011)
  26. ^ Catalogue of papers of Stephen Clissold (1913–1982), 1940–1982 - Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
  27. ^ DANIEL, Nicholas in Who's Who 2007 (London, A. & C. Black, 2007)
  28. ^ Barker, Sebastian. Obituary: David Gascoyne. The Independent. 28 November 2001.
  29. ^ HILLS, Air Vice-Marshal David Graeme Muspratt in Who's Who 2007 (London, A. & C. Black, 2007)
  30. ^ KEY, (Simon) Robert in Who's Who 2007 (London, A. & C. Black, 2007)
  31. ^ MATES, Lt-Col Rt Hon. Michael (John) in Who's Who 2007 (London, A. & C. Black, 2007)
  32. ^ a b Meades, Jonathan (2014). An Encyclopaedia of Myself. Fourth Estate, London. ISBN 978-1-85702-905-5.

External links[edit]