16th April 2019
I must admit to being surprised on hearing that Salisbury has been crowned the winner of The Sunday Times Best Places to Live 2019 list. After working there for 18 years I am well aware of its many charms, but sadly the recent novichok poisonings have cast a cloud over this beautiful city.
Yet out of 101 locations across the UK championed by The Sunday Times, taking into account air quality and broadband speed, as well as the all-important schools, transport links and property prices, Salisbury comes out top, demonstrating a remarkable turnaround in the past 12 months. It is the way the community has bounced back from the novichok saga, which cast a dark cloud and frightened the tourists away, that convinced the paper that Salisbury should be the winner.
The whole city is to be connected to full-fibre broadband, the cafes are full and the tourists have returned. This is no surprise – Salisbury’s enduring appeal is partly down to its most distinguishing feature, the magnificent 14th century cathedral with its 404-foot spire. It is the tallest in England and dwarves Salisbury’s other special feature - the Cathedral Close. This collection of outstanding historic buildings set around the precincts of Cathedral Green – a village green on steroids – is to my mind one of the prettiest groups of buildings in the country. These houses are, of course, hugely prized and sought after.
It is not just architecture and its intimate size that make Salisbury stand apart – its setting at the confluence of five chalk streams on meadows once painted by Constable is sublime with the added bonus that it does not take forever to get there. It could not be said to be commutable (although some hardy souls do it) as it is an hour and a half on the train to London. But for those who don’t have to be in London every day and want to take advantage of the great schools and quality of life, it is well within the realms of possibility.