Salisbury Cathedral Close Preservation Society


A Child in the Close

Annual Lecture - November 2011 -
by Robert Key FSA

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It was said that the Rector of St Mary’s, Portsea, Geoffrey Lunt, trained more curates who became Bishops, Deans and Archdeacons than any other priest in the Twentieth Century. In 1935 Geoffrey Lunt was himself enthroned as Bishop of Ripon. In 1946 he was translated to Salisbury. He asked my father, Maurice Key, to come as his Suffragan Bishop of Sherborne. And that is how we found ourselves in Salisbury.

It was a huge relief for my parents to leave devastated post-war Plymouth for the tranquillity of Salisbury Close. I had been born in April 1945 – an end-of-war celebration and an early baby-boomer!The Bishops had recently moved out of the old Palace, into Mompesson House. For us, Bishop Lunt negotiated the lease of the main part of the  South Canonry – which we shared with the Precentor, who had an upstairs flat in the north wing.
The house was bliss It was quiet. It was safe for children (apart from the river on two sides of the garden). There was a large vegetable garden and a hen run. There was even an old pig-sty!

Even in the post-war years the old social order had changed little in Salisbury. Especially not in The Close.  Once a week, the man from the International Stores on the Poultry Cross would sit himself down at the kitchen table and take the grocery order. He would also take the food coupons from the ration book! He had a small brown suitcase packed with samples and price lists. Later a delivery boy would appear on a bicycle with a huge, laden basket at the front, delivering the order.

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