A trip to The Pillars of the Earth, in England

The television channel Cuatro has just released the series ‘The Pillars of the Earth’, based on the best seller by Ken Follet. Directed by brothers Ridley and Tony Scott, the adaptation explores medieval England. And the intrigues, passions and power struggles that break out around the construction of a cathedral. To build his novel De él Follet he visited various historical sites in English geography. Now is the time to discover them.

‘The Pillars of the Earth’ has been read by 15 million people around the world and in Spain it has become the best-selling fiction title of all time. This literary hurricane originates from Follet’s interest in cathedrals. The author began to wonder about the enigmas that these architectural giants contain. Why despite their cost and endless works, they were erected.  His investigation revealed to him a fascinating world and much closer than it seems.

As the novelist reveals, in Britain there are several towns called Kingsbridge. However, the place in ‘The Pillars of the Earth’ is fictitious. It is partly inspired by Marlborough, an English town in the county of Wiltshire close to Salisbury, Winchester and Gloucester, important medieval cities with their own cathedral.

Marlborough, a medieval corner

Marlborough was the site of Norman coinage, a historic stopover on the way to London, and a hunting ground for Tudor kings. Today it is the site of a large market (held every Wednesday and Saturday) and a destination for antiquities aficionados. Its surroundings continue to boast nature reserves such as Fyfield Down and Pewsey Down, golf courses and game grounds.

The town of Salisbury is famous for its 13th century cathedral, recognizable in Follet’s book. It is a superb example of early Gothic architecture with the tallest spire in all of England. In it you can see one of the copies of the Magna Carta, the antecedent of modern constitutions. He Stonehenge megalithic complex is located a few kilometers from there.

Winchester Cathedral, curiously enough, inspired Cathedral, the song by the folk rock group Crosby, Stills & Nash (and Young). In this building, originally from the year 642, the marriage between Felipe II of Spain and Maria Tudor was celebrated. Its interior houses more surprises: some Pre-Raphaelite showcases signed by Edward Burne-Jones and the tomb of the writer Jane Austen.

Gloucester, one of the most visited cities in the Cotswolds, boasts a Roman past and a well-preserved Victorian port. Its 12th-century cathedral was transformed into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for three of the Harry Potter movies. Find her in ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’ and ‘The Half-Blood Prince’

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