“Salisbury is sleepy, but not as sleepy as some people might think...”
A brief history and background
Salisbury's population of around 40,000 makes it the second-largest place in Wiltshire after Swindon, though it does hold the distinct honour of being the only city in the county. There's been a settlement in the area since prehistoric times. Originally it was situated at the now ruined site of Old Sarum, but Salisbury itself (or New Sarum) was officially founded in 1220.
Points of interest
Markets are a staple of the city, and have been held regularly on Tuesdays and Saturdays since 1227. Stonehenge is one of the biggest nearby landmarks – you can get a bus there from the station – and attracts a steady stream of tourists, making Salisbury busier than other places of a similar size.
Salisbury Cathedral, completed in 1258, dominates the city and is home to the world's oldest mechanical clock, as well as one of four original copies of the Magna Carta; it has the tallest church spire in Britain too. The cathedral was also one of two in the country (along with Wells) which was the inspiration behind the fictional Kingsbridge Cathedral in Ken Follett's hefty history tome The Pillars of the Earth.
Other tourist attractions in the city include the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, the Rifles Museum, and the Pitt Rivers gallery.
Law firms in Salisbury
Salisbury stalwart Wilsons' relatively new office in Alexandra House is just 500 yards from one of the main entrances to the Cathedral Close. Finding the new building was a real coup for the firm: big office buildings are few and far between in this small city (so much so that Salisbury's other large commercial firm, Trethowans, has moved out to a business park along the A30).
Both firms have long-established roots in Salisbury and have embedded themselves in a range of community-driven schemes. Trethowans trainees told us that “to thrive here, you have to be willing to get involved in more than just day-to-day work.” The firm supports three local charities – The Joe Glover Trust, Naomi House and Julia's House – but also sponsors a range of sports clubs and local events including the Salisbury Rugby Club and the Chalke Valley History Festival. Recent charity fundraisers have seen lawyers scale both the O2 in London and the heights of the Three Peaks Challenge.
Wilsons, meanwhile, selected a charity to focus on in 2016: Wiltshire Air Ambulance benefited from the firm's fundraising efforts. Going forward, everyone at the firm is allowed one day a year for a 'Wilsons in the Community Day' at a charity of their choice. The firm really got into the community spirit during 2015, when it sponsored several local events to celebrate the 800th birthday of the Magna Carta (Salisbury Cathedral houses the original copy of the document).
“Salisbury is sleepy, but not as sleepy as some people might think,” a Wilsons trainee told us. “It is quiet – there's no buzzing night life – but during the summer it's great to have the New Forest on the doorstep. And there are always decent shows on at the theatre too.” (Salisbury boasts three theatres: The Guildhall, City Hall and Salisbury Playhouse.) Of course, as another interviewee added: “It's important to understand that Salisbury is quite a rural place really – we only have one night club.” Trainees therefore don't come for the “party lifestyle,” but do appreciate the chance to savour more tranquil pursuits: “Living here, your social life revolves more around long country walks and pub lunches.” Trainees were enthusiastic about two watering holes in particular: the New Inn and the Cosy Club.
For an extra sprinkling of fun there's the Salisbury Young Professionals association, which draws members from both Wilsons and Trethowans. It organises quiz nights, drinks evenings and various charity events. “They do some really interesting events with other businesses like Smith & Williamson [an accountancy firm], so it's a great way to meet people.”