Our photo this week is of the flooding inside Salisbury Cathedral in January 1915 and it poses a question.

Did the Canons of Salisbury Cathedral ever go by boat up the nave to their stalls to conduct services?

This incident apparently happened and was mentioned in the book “Cathedral Architecture” by Hugh Braun.

However, it is also recorded that the water reached less than three inches, which is hardly sufficient for a boat to be floated!

The Salisbury Journal reported how some of the Canons had removed their shoes and socks and walked bare-foot through the ice-cold water.

The newspaper’s report on Monday, 4 January, 1915 (the first day of the actual flooding in the nave) stated that: “For the service at 7.30am though the bell rang and the clergymen appointed for the day attended, there were none of the general public present. Planks and platforms were laid on bricks down the north aisle to the chancel, and along this worshippers proceeded to their devotions.”

No mention was made of a boat.

The Wiltshire Times wrote: “The Cathedral was surrounded by a crystal lake and inside the whole nave was covered by water. In the Close many of the picturesque and beautiful homes, including the Deanery, were washed by a strong current” As many photographs show, boats were used in this period in Fisherton Street as far as North Street and they were also used in Crane Bridge Road.

Mr Braun’s reference to the flooding read: “The Cathedral’s purpose has been loyally observed by the Canons of Salisbury, nothing being allowed to break the continuity of prayer, said in the Cathedral twice every day. Not long ago the Avon flooded the nave. The Canons procured a boat, rowed through the nave up to their stalls in the choir, and said their prayers.”