Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo


The diocese was originally founded by Birinus, who in 634 established his see at Dorchester in Oxfordshire, whence he evangelized the Kingdom of Wessex. From this beginning sprang the later Dioceses of Winchester, Sherborne, Ramsbury, and Salisbury. In the time of Bishop St. Headda (676-705) the see was moved to Winchester, and on Headda's death (705) a formal division took place, when the greater part of Wiltshire with portions of Dorset and Somerset were formed into the Diocese of Sherborne of which St. Aldhelm became the first bishop. Ten bishops in turn succeeded St. Aldhelm before the next subdivision of the see in 909, when Wiltshire and Berkshire became the separate see of Ramsbury, restricting the Diocese of Sherborne to Dorsetshire only. The arrangement continued until the two dioceses were again united in 1058 under Herman, who had been made Bishop of Ramsbury in 1045. He lived to transfer his episcopal chair to Old Sarum in 1075. His successor, St. Osmund , built a cathedral there and drew up for it the ordinal of offices, which became the basis of the Sarum Rite It was the seventh Bishop of Sarum, Richard Poore, who determined to remove the cathedral from the precincts of the royal castle of Old Sarum to a more convenient spot. On 28 April, 1220, he laid the foundation stones of the present cathedral, beginning with the Lady chapel which was consecrated on 28 Sept., 1225. Among those present was St. Edmund, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, and at this time treasurer of Salisbury. The cathedral was completed in 1266, having taken nearly half a century to accomplish. It stands alone among English cathedrals in having been built all of a piece, and thus possesses an architectural unity which is exceptional; it is also remarkable as being the first important building in the early English style. The cloisters and chapter house were shortly added; the spire regarded as the most beautiful in Europe is one of the loftiest in the world, and was a later addition, the exact date of which is unknown; prpbably built by 1300. The diocese was divided into four archdeaconries: Salisbury, Berkshire, Wiltshire, and Dorsetshire. In the "Valor Ecclesiasticus " of 1535, over 800 parish churches are recorded.

From the translation of the see to Salisbury the bishops were:

Old Sarum:

  • Herman, consecrated 1058, removed the cathedral to Sarum, 1075;
  • St. Osmund, 1078;
  • vacancy , 1099;
  • Roger, 1103;
  • Jocelin, 1142;
  • vacancy , 1184;
  • Hubert Walter, 1189;
  • Herbert Poore, 1194.

New Sarum:

  • Richard Poore, 1217;
  • Robert Bingham, 1229;
  • William of York, 1247;
  • Giles de Bridport, 1257;
  • Walter de la Wyle, 1263;
  • Robert de Wykehampton, 1274;
  • Walter Scammel, 1284;
  • Henry de Braundeston, 1287;
  • William de la Corner, 1289;
  • Nicholas Longespee, 1292;
  • Simon of Ghent, 1297;
  • Roger de Mortival, 1315;
  • Robert Wyville, 1330;
  • Ralph Erghum, 1375;
  • John Waltham, 1388;
  • Richard Mitford, 1395;
  • Nicholas Bubwith, 1407;
  • Robert Hallam, 1408;
  • John Chandler, 1417;
  • Robert Neville, 1427;
  • William Ayscough, 1438;
  • Richard Beauchamp, 1450;
  • Lionel Woodville, 1482;
  • Thomas Langton, 1485;
  • John Blythe, 1494;
  • Henry Deane, 1499;
  • Edmund Audley, 1502;
  • Lorenzo Campegio, 1524.

In 1534 Cardinal Campegio was deprived of the temporalities and Nicholas Shaxton was schismatically intruded into the see. On Campegio's death, Peter Peto (afterwards cardinal ) was nominated but never consecrated. Under Mary, the schismatical bishop, John Capon (or Salcot) was reconciled and held the see till his death in 1557. Peto was again nominated, but did not take possession, and Francis Mallet was named, but ejected by Elizabeth before consecration.

The cathedral was dedicated to Our Lady.

More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 2:19-22
19 So you are no longer aliens or foreign visitors; you are ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 19:2-3, 4-5
2 day discourses of it to day, night to night hands on the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 6:12-16
12 Now it happened in those days that he went onto the mountain to pray; ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 28th, 2016 Image

St. Jude Thaddaeus
October 28: St. Jude, known as Thaddaeus, was a brother of ... Read More