Salisbury Cathedral, formally known as the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is regarded as one of the leading examples of early English Gothic architecture. Its main body was completed in 38 years, from 1220 to 1258. Since 1549, the cathedral has had the tallest church spire in the United Kingdom, at 123m. It contains a clock which is among the oldest working examples in the world, and has the best surviving of the four original copies of Magna Carta. In 2008, the cathedral celebrated the 750th anniversary of its consecration.
Salisbury Cathedral is unusual for its tall and narrow nave, which has visual accentuation from the use of light grey Chilmark stone for the walls and dark polished Purbeck marble for the columns. It has three levels: a tall pointed arcade, an open gallery and a small clerestory. Lined up between the pillars are notable tombs such as that of William Longespée, half brother of King Johnand the illegitimate son of Henry II, who was the first person to be buried in the cathedral.
An unusual feature of the nave is an unconventional modern font, installed in September 2008. Designed by the water sculptor William Pye, it is the largest working font in any British cathedral, and replaced an earlier portable neo-Gothic Victorian font. The font is cruciform in shape, and has a 10-foot-wide vessel filled to its brim with water, designed so that the water overflows in filaments through each corner into bronze gratings embedded in the cathedral's stone floor.
The chapter house is notable for its octagonal shape, slender central pillar and decorative medieval frieze. It was redecorated in 1855–9 by William Burges. The frieze, which circles the interior above the stalls, depicts scenes and stories from the books of Genesis and Exodus, including Adam and Eve, Noah, the Tower of Babel, and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.