Travelling Between Southampton And London
When we arrived in Southampton after we finished our cruise through the Nordic countries we had a full day booked. A Salisbury, Stonehenge and Windsor Castle day trip between Southampton and London with International Friends gave us yet more interesting sights to explore.
We visited the Canterbury Cathedral when we did a Baltic cruise and stopped in Dover. So we were excited to spend some time at the Salisbury Cathedral on this trip. The second stop on our transit day was at Stonehenge. A great complement to the standing stones or rock structures we found on our cruise. The final stop on our tour was at Windsor Castle. It was the first but not last view of life as a Royal on our stay by Hyde Park in London.
It was great to explore the great sights on a Salisbury, Stonehenge and Windsor Castle day trip between Southampton and London.
A Stop In Salisbury
We started our day trip between Southampton and London in the small town of Salisbury. It was located about 30 minutes from the port in Southampton. You could also have reached it by train from London in about 90 minutes. Our tour van parked by the wall that still goes around the old town.
The Salisbury Cathedral was built in medieval times. It still boasts the largest spire in the country (404 feet tall and 6,400 tons). There were 332 stairs to the top of the spire for an amazing view around the countryside. But we did not have time for this.
We walked up to the cathedral and got a great view of the outside. The facade was decorated in an amazing variety of figures that represented a hierarchy of bishops and doctors, saints and martyrs, apostles and evangelists, prophets and patriarchs.
Before we went inside we strolled along the outdoor Gothic cloister area. Apparently it too is the largest in England. In the centre of the garden were giant cedar trees.
Admission to the inside of the cathedral required a “suggested” donation (in any currency). We were not going to miss a chance to see more of the Salisbury Cathedral.
Inside The Salisbury Cathedral
When we entered, we took a moment to look around this massive cathedral. Every spot seemed to present something else to look at. We started with what was claimed to be the oldest clock. Originally located in the cathedral’s bell tower, it was made of hand-wrought iron. It did not have a clock face. But was designed to chime at key points through the day. Although the chimes have been removed.
I was always fascinated by the colour and artistry of stained glass windows in churches. The first stop was above the military display. It was very strange to find the modern helicopters in stained glass. The stained glass windows around the cathedral presented different stories told in colour and detail.
As we walked around, we were conscious of the fact that we were walking on medieval tombs. But not all of the bodies were buried underground. Decorative sarcophagus and tombs were found all around the cathedral. In front of Sir Thomas & Lady Gorges tomb was a modern glass art piece (“Preen” from the “Beyond” collection by Diane Maclean).
We made it up to the main altar. Smaller altars lined the side aisles. Everywhere we looked we admired the statues and art. Even the ceiling was decorated.
A stop to see the Salisbury Cathedral was a great way to start our day trip between Southampton and London.
The Magna Carta At Salisbury Cathedral
One of the key reasons many people visited the Salisbury Cathedral was to see one of the copies of the Magna Carta. We moved to a separate wing of the cathedral to see this display. Another set of beautiful stained glass windows decorated the room.
The Magna Carta was a latin document which outlined a charter of liberties between King John and his nobles after many years of heavy taxation and bad governance. It formed the basis for English common law. The actual sheet was maintained in a dark and climate controlled enclosure. But around the room there were displays that provided more information about the document.
Our final stop inside of Salisbury Cathedral was interesting on this visit to London.
The Stories About Stonehenge
It was a short drive from Salisbury to the next stop on our day trip between Southampton and London. A large parking lot sat beside the visitor centre for Stonehenge. A side road ran close by. And people who didn’t want to pay to visit stopped their cars along the road.
Archeologists have determined that Stonehenge was built in a series of stages over a 1500 year period starting around 3000BC. There were different tales about how the massive bluestones were moved to the site 240 miles from the Preseli mountains in Wales. Some talked about hundreds of years moving the giant stones with stone rollers. Some stones may have been moved partially across the water. And then there were people who believed that extraterrestrial beings created the site.
But almost everyone agreed that this site was built on the flat grass plains as a place of worship. It was posited that it may also have been a place of healing. But whatever the original purpose, it was a huge tourist draw. After we saw several different areas of standing stones on our visit to the Orkney Islands on our cruise through the Nordic Islands, we needed to see this much bigger site.
Over the years Stonehenge has been gradually degraded by natural causes and by man. Stones were removed in early days as building materials. And early visitors often took rock souvenirs. We were glad to see the efforts to protect Stonehenge.
A Stop At Stonehenge
Our tour van parked by the visitor centre. We picked up our audio guides and took the shuttle to the rocks. The has been instituted as a way to separate and control the crowds.
The stones were located in the middle of large fields of grass. Sheep grazed in the field. People walked the fields to and from the stones.
We found the stones inside a roped-off ring. This kept people back from the stones. It was meant to protect the stones. But we were happy that this allowed us to get a good perspective on the rocks as we walked slowly around the circle.
Walking Around Stonehenge
A bronze arrow on the ground marked the place on the horizon where the summer solstice sunrise appeared when viewed from the centre of the stone circle. This would certainly be a magical time to visit. At various points around the circle we saw large rocks in the grass. We could just make out the grass moat that encircled the Stonehenge stones.
As we walked around the ruins of Stonehenge, we saw the remnants of the two rings of rocks. In some places, the lintels still topped the pillars. In other spots stones had tumbled to the ground. At each stopping point, a number indicated which audio segment to listen to. There was a great amount of additional information you could select.
It was a great sunny day to see Stonehenge. But it would be fascinating to catch it early or late in the day with the sun setting it aglow.
We slowly made our way back to the visitor centre before we rejoined our group. Stonehenge was a great stop on our day trip between Southampton and London.
Walking Around Windsor Castle
The final stop on our day trip between Southampton and London was at Windsor Castle. It has been home to British Monarchs for over 1,000 years. And is the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II. As we approached, we saw the walls around the castle. And there was a statue of Queen Victoria.
We walked in the main entrance and got our first view. The Round Tower (really a D shape) flew the Union Jack flag because the Queen was not in residence. We walked in through the St George’s Gate. There was interesting detail everywhere we looked.
The castle stood above gardens in bloom. Flowers framed the towers above the Norman Gate.
When we walked to the back, we saw the Dutch Gun still aimed out over the countryside. Far off in the distance we saw a large church.
It was the perfect day to wander around Windsor Castle on a day trip between Southampton and London.
An Inside Tour Of Windsor Castle
We entered the State Apartments in the castle and walked through room after opulent room. Everywhere we looked sparkled with gilt. Many of the rooms reminded me of our visit to Catherine’s Palace in St Petersburg. We were sorry we could not take any pictures inside.
There were rooms for the Queen and King, meeting rooms, armour and royal china displays. Queen Elizabeth II is often in residence at Windsor Castle. We figured there were private residences not on the tour where the Royal Family spent their time. But some of the opulent rooms we toured were surely used for visiting dignitaries.
The gift shop had lots to buy as a Royal souvenir. There was a large collection of tea sets for sale. It reminded us of similar royal-inspired tea sets we found for sale when we had Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia.
We were happy we got a small look at life as a royal on our visit to Windsor castle on this day trip between Southampton and London. And we saw even more royal spots on our 3 day visit to London.
We Finished Up At St. George’s Chapel
On the way to the exit we saw St. George’s Chapel. It was a place of worship for the Queen and the Royal Family and a church for the local community. St George’s Chapel was known for being the home of the Order of the Garter procession held annually in June. The knights (Companions of the Order of the Garter) paraded in medieval and royal pageantry in velvet robes and plumed hats. This was also the venue chosen for the recently highly televised wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018.
When we walked inside, we learned that there were no photos allowed inside of here either. But it did not take long before we saw why this was the perfect spot for a stunning royal wedding. We understood why this chapel was considered one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in England.
The inside of the chapel seemed to go on forever as we followed the roped-off path. The ceiling was stunning with its stone fan vaulting. Beautiful stained glass windows were everywhere. The West Window was believed to be the third largest stained glass window in England. On each side of the choir we saw beautifully carved stalls of the Knights and Ladies of the Garter. Above the stalls were the helmets, crests and banners of these Knights and Ladies.
The chapel also contained two burial vaults and tombs in the main chapel where the royalty have been buried since the 1400’s. We did not see the vaults on our visit. A visit to Windsor Castle on on a day trip between Southampton and London should definitely include a stop at St. George’s Chapel.
A Final View Of Windsor Castle From The Air
Windsor Castle lay right under the flight path to Heathrow Airport. And we often caught sight of planes framed by the castle.
When we flew out after our stay by Hyde Park in London, we were excited to catch a view of Windsor Castle under the airplane wings.
It was interesting to finish up our visit to London for 3 days with this last Royal view.
A Short Pub Stop
We finished our exploration around Windsor Castle with a little time to spare before we met back up with the group. The Horse & Groom Pub called to us for a little refreshment. The pub had a rich and long history, having been on that site since 1719. The upper room with a view was not open. So we settled into a traditional English pub. At the bar, David debated over which local beer to try.
But I was amazed by the wide selection of gins that were available. All the usual brands were available. But I also found a great selection of infused gins. For this first gin and tonic, I tried the Brockman’s gin. Infused with blackberry and lemon, it was a refreshing way to finish our visit to Windsor. I so enjoyed this fruit infused gin that when we reached the Intercontinental Park Lane for our 3 days in London, I made sure to explore the menu further. The Edgeton Pink with pomegranate and lemon was a decided favourite!
Suitably refreshed, we rejoined our group tour for the final leg of our day trip between Southampton and London.
A Great Salisbury, Stonehenge and Windsor Castle Day Trip Between Southampton And London
On this return to London for 3 days, we enjoyed a Salisbury, Stonehenge and Windsor Castle day trip between Southampton and London. Although, doing all 3 in a long day did not really give us enough time at each spot. So we might recommend spreading these out as day trips from London.
We were sorry we did not get the day trip that included a stop at the Roman ruins in Bath. But that was a great excursion for another trip to London.
Have you done a Salisbury, Stonehenge and Windsor Castle day trip between Southampton and London? Or did you visit from London? What was your favourite stop?
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