UK Politics

5 must see sights for Russian cathedral enthusiasts 

BY Finn McRedmond   /  13 September 2018

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, the two suspects accused of the Salisbury nerve agent attack appeared on Russia Today this morning. They had a rather different take on what had unfolded: “Friends had been suggesting for a long time that we visit this wonderful town”, said Petrov. “There’s the famous Salisbury Cathedral, famous not just in Europe, but in the whole world”, he added: “It’s famous for its 123-metre spire, it’s famous for its clock, the first one [of its kind] ever created in the world, which is still working.”

The pair of cathedral enthusiasts stayed in a hotel in Bow, East London, for the duration of their visit – travelling between Bow and Salisbury twice in one weekend before catching a late-night flight back to Russia on the Sunday evening.

This is surely a heart-warming tale of two buddies travelling across the entirety of Europe for a flying visit to see a cathedral in a small market town. So, we’ve decided to produce a rough Reaction guide for any more tourists of a similar ilk.

1. Chichester 

Chichester is a cathedral city in West Sussex, so we already know it will go down well with our two Russian tourists. The cathedral is a combination of Norman and Gothic styles, and sports an 84m spire – not quite the dizzying heights that that Petrov and Boshirov got to experience in Salisbury, but surely an impressive sight nonetheless. Chichester is also commutable from Bow in just over two hours, comfortably allowing for two separate visits in the same weekend.

2. Stratford-Upon-Avon 

Stratford-Upon-Avon, most famously the birthplace of Shakespeare, is a market town in Warwickshire. The theatre itself doesn’t offer the gothic architecture that seems to attract the pair, but the town itself does have a butterfly farm and a branch of the restaurant chain Zizzi’s as well, so there is plenty to pack into a two-day trip.

It *is* commutable from Bow, but only by a combination of train and bus, so I would suggest that the best place to stay would be the outskirts of Birmingham, only 22 miles away. And remarkably, Birmingham does direct flights to Moscow, which is more than doable.

3. Cheltenham 

Cheltenham is a spa town in Gloucestershire. It hosts several festivals of culture including the Cheltenham Literature Festival and the Cheltenham Jazz Festival. It is also more notably the home of GCHQ, the government’s intelligence and security operation. This could pose some problems for Petrov and Boshirov, depending on what they plan to get up to.

4. Norwich 

A cathedral city in East Anglia brings us back to what Petrov and Boshirov are really looking for: gothic architecture. Norwich Cathedral’s spire-height pales in comparison to Salisbury’s, at only 96 metres, but it has the second largest cloisters in England. This is a must-see for Moscow based cathedral enthusiasts.

5. York 

The historic walled city is a popular tourist destination. It is best known for being home to the critically acclaimed National Railway Museum, which holds the title of European Museum of the Year 2001. The museum displays over 100 trains and 300 other items of permanent stock. Only a short walk from York train station the museum is conveniently located for commuters. York is well worth a visit for this reason alone but also allegedly is home to a cathedral. Bonus!