The Salisbury Museum is housed in The King's House, where King James I of England was entertained in 1610 and 1613. Set in the surroundings of the Cathedral Close, the museum faces the west front of Salisbury Cathedral. Previously based at No 40-42, St Ann Street, where it had been founded in 1860 by Dr Richard Fowler, FRS, it transferred to its current location in the 1970s. The original three-storey building with mullioned and transomed windows, ornate plaster ceilings and a fine oak-balustraded staircase, houses the main temporary exhibition gallery, with the ceramics gallery above. A 90 kg meteorite, possibly the biggest to have ever fallen on the British Isles, is on display at the museum. The meteorite landed on earth some 30,000 years ago and was apparently preserved by the frozen conditions during the last ice age. In normal circumstances the meteorite would have disintegrated, but the cold and ice helped preserve it. Thousands of years later, in the Stone or Bronze Age, it is thought that the meteorite was built into a burial mound close to Lake House. The local chalk environment would again have helped to preserve it. The meteorite may have been unearthed a previous owner of Lake House who was an antiquarian who excavated burial mounds nearby and had his own private museum. Photographic evidence shows it on the doorstep of Lake House at the time the property was owned by the brewer Joseph Lovibond, Mayor of Salisbury in 1878-79 and 1890-91.
The Wardour Hoard is a hoard of over 100 copper alloy objects which were over 2,700 years old and dated to the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age. It was found near Wardour by a metal detectorist, and consists of tools - axe heads, chisels, sickles, gouges, as well as spearheads, daggers, knives, swords and scabbard fittings. It was the most important hoard to have been found in Wiltshire since the discovery of the Salisbury Hoard in the 1980s. The New Wessex Gallery of Archaeology opened in the summer of 2014 and is of international importance, telling the story of Salisbury and the surrounding area from prehistoric times to the Norman Conquest, and showing why Salisbury has a unique place in history. The museum's collections include some of the most important archaeological finds in Britain, including artefacts from the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, the Pitt Rivers Wessex Collection and the Amesbury Archer.
The Museum has an art collection of over 4,000 paintings, prints and drawings, representing local personalities, topographical scenes, special events and everyday life, or created by local artists of note. An outstanding Costume Collection includes clothes relating to the people in and around Salisbury over the past 250 years, including wedding dresses, uniforms, formal wear and lace samples produced by Downton Lace. The Museum also has an outstanding collection of ceramics. Local Verwood and Wiltshire Brown ware is represented alongside the celebrated Wedgwood, Bow and Chelsea potteries. The museum is close to Mompesson House so the two can be combined.
There is a wheelchair available for visitors' use. There is some parking on the Museum's forecourt for orange or blue badge holders. One space by the front door is reserved for use only by those with a disability. There is level access through the ground floor to the shop/reception, galleries (Wessex gallery, Salisbury history and temporary exhibitions), coffee shop, toilets and lecture hall. Salisbury Museum does not have a lift that provides access to the first floor. A carer is admitted free of charge upon request, while the normal charge applies to the disabled visitor. There is an induction loop in the Lecture Hall. There is a toilet available for people with disabilities. This is situated near the Coffee Shop and also provides modest baby care facilities. There are presently few exhibits which can be touched without supervision. There are boxes of archaeological handling material, which can be made available by prior booking. For groups of visually impaired people touch sessions may be arranged using this material. Large print brochures are available on request. Guide and assistance dogs are welcome. They can provide water for them if requested.
Location : The King’s House, 65 The Close, Salisbury SP1 2EN
Transport: Salisbury (National Rail) 8 minutes. Bus Routes : 14, 20, 29, 37, 44, 49, 87, 645, 677, B1, B2, B3, P19, R15, X3 and X7 stop nearby
Opening Times : Daily 10:00 to 17:00; Sundays open at 12:00
Tickets : Adults £8.00; Children £4.00.
Tel: 01722 332151