England’s best views: Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire

England’s best views Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire from the Meadows 

‘The view of Salisbury from across the Avon water meadows is a perennial favourite. Its celebrity rests on John Constable and his 300 versions of Salisbury. His most finished masterpiece of the scene, Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, was painted at the height of his powers in 1831. The viewpoint is unmistakable today.

There may now be no horses in the stream and the Crane Street car park is too close. But sheep make a suitable substitute for horses. The cathedral steeple is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. On my last visit to Salisbury, blustery clouds were forming behind the darkened steeple. 

Suddenly, the sun broke from the clouds behind me, raced past me across the meadow. Finally, it caught the cathedral and set the steeple ablaze. I wished for Constable at my side ‘ 

Extracted from ‘England’s 100 Best Views’ by Simon Jenkins, to be published by Profile books in October 2013 (£25 hardback)