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A wonderfully unique Grade II property in Salisbury’s world renowned Cathedral Close with views over Constable’s meadows.
The property with its evocative name Camera Principalis, meaning principal chamber has been in residential use for over 800 years, and was part of the Old Deanery. The property has a wealth of features both from the medieval period and the intervening centuries, these include medieval doorways, sculptured stone adornments and Georgian windows.
Camera Principalis has in recent years undergone some refurbishment including new bathrooms, redecoration and new carpets. The accommodation of over 3799 sq.ft. is approached via an impressive stone spiral staircase leading to the first floor and opens into the entrance hall with stairs to the upper floor and a door leading into the stunningly proportioned drawing room with its double height ceiling and amazing picture window with views across the grounds, River Avon and Constable’s water meadows, a door then leads into the atmospheric turret room, currently, the sitting room which again has a full height window overlooking the grounds. From the drawing room, sliding doors partition the dining room which then leads through a lobby with cloakroom and utility into the ‘L’ shaped kitchen/breakfast room. A good sized study completes the first floor accommodation. On the second floor, there is a wonderful master suite overlooking the drawing room with views through its picture window over the grounds. The master suite also has an en-suite shower room and walk in wardrobe, there are then two further guest suites both with en-suite bathrooms, and two further bedrooms which have access to a family bathroom.
The property is unusually secure, due to its situation in Cathedral Close which is gated and locked overnight (with all residents having a key) and the exceptional robustness of the building and entrance.
The property enjoys full use of the communal grounds of Sarum St Michael with its sweeping lawns leading to the River Avon, over which the owner can enjoy fishing rights or can just sit and enjoy the views over Constable’s water meadows, or the views back to the Cathedral Spire. The property also has the benefit of two parking spaces.
Properties of this historic nature are rare and those offering such unique accommodation are indeed a one off and we thoroughly recommend an internal inspection both to appreciate its enormous charm and the size of accommodation available.
Situated in Salisbury’s world renowned Cathedral Close. Camera Principalis enjoys possibly some of the best uninterrupted westerly views across the River Avon and Constable’s water meadows and is less than 0.5 mile walk from the centre of Salisbury. Occupying an enviable position in this highly regarded location, the property affords easy access to the centre of Salisbury, a popular medieval city with an excellent range of cultural, leisure and shopping facilities. There are rail services into London Waterloo from Salisbury with a journey time of approximately 86 minutes. Southampton Airport (24 miles) offers daily flights to a number of national and international destinations.
The property is also within a prime position to reach both Bishops & South Wilts Grammar Schools, and an array of schools in the independent sector including Salisbury Cathedral School, Chafyn Grove, Godolphin and Godolphin Preparatory School. Salisbury itself is surrounded by picturesque countryside, popular for many outdoor pursuits including golf at South Wilts, High Post & Hamptworth, and an abundance of options for fine walking and riding.
Historical Notes from The Vendor:
The house Camera Principalis is part of the Old Deanery, which dates from 1220 when the foundation stone of the Cathedral was laid, and the exodus of the town from Old Sarum had begun. At this time the Canons of Salisbury, the wealthy staff of the Bishop Richard Poore, were allotted plots on which to build residences west and north of the fledgling Cathedral, and were told to do so promptly at the risk of incurring penalties. One of these residences proved to be directly opposite the grand entrance of the west front of the Cathedral in direct lineage to the Nave, so it was hardly surprising when, in 1277, the then Bishop of Salisbury Robert de Wykehampton presented it to the Dean and Chapter, officially designating it as the Deanery.
In building the Deanery, a lot of the stone used came from the previous Cathedral up at Old Sarum, and this was also used for the Close perimeter wall. When you approach the house, you see the name plate ‘Camera Principalis’, meaning principal chamber, and it has been called that for almost 800 years. The whole Deanery was occupied by deans until 1922 and in 1948 was mercifully saved from demolition once its historical provenance was realised. Extensive restoration took place in 1963 and to a lesser extent in 1982 and, most recently, it has been the home of the same family since 1987.
When you come in the front door you are in fact entering ’the annexe’, albeit one built in the 1400’s. This part of the house is known as the tower because, once upon a time, it had a turret on top.
As you go up the spiral staircase, upon the wall on the left hand side are two masonry heads of a king and a queen, and a plinth with a vase on top, all of which are 13th century - except for the vase.
At the top of the spiral staircase, right ahead of you is the original 13th century front door, somewhat shorter than doors today, nicknamed the priest‘s door. Before the tower was built, it was served by a staircase from outside.
The floor plan in the Old Deanery booklet, written in 1964, reveals a positively patchwork quilt of parts of the building that date from different centuries in addition to the original construction. Once you enter the main house, you would hardly guess that it was medieval. The enormous Palladian front window was added in the 18th century and, as you go around to the right, you enter the Turret Room, the first floor of the tower that had a turret on top. Here you can see tucked away the frame of a 15th century connecting door, again much shorter than our doors today.
It is said that Henry VI stayed here in 1457. In an inventory of 1586, the house was referred to as the ‘king’s chamber’, which may imply a previous visit from one of the early tudor monarchs. What is certain is an inventory of 1440 that itemises, including measurements, the entire stock of furniture in the whole of the Deanery.
The Old Deanery Salisbury by Norman Drinkwater FSA from the Antiquaries
Three Bedrooms with En-suites
Two Further Bedrooms
Contact branch for relevant Energy Performance Certificate
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