It is the most picture box of English cities. A place dominated more by the spire of Salisbury Cathedral than by international intrigue.  

Or at least it was until 12 months ago.

On 4 March last year the Wiltshire city went from a peaceful tourist destination to the site of the first chemical attack on British soil.  

Five people became seriously ill. One of those lost her life.


Read more:
Salisbury poisoning saga: How it unfolded

Nerve agent attack: What is Novichok?


The inhabitants of Salisbury saw their neighbourhoods - and livelihoods - thrown into an international spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

When Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were seen slumped on a park bench on a Sunday afternoon last March the initial thought from some passersby was that it might be drug related.  

The Russian former spy had been living a quiet life in the city. That anonymity was about to end.  

Now he and his daughter live in hiding, both still considered targets to those who carried out the initial attack.  

The policeman who came to their aid - PC Nick Bailey - also became seriously ill. All victims of Novichok poisoning - a chemical nerve agent few of us knew anything about 12 months ago.

It began a process of investigation and decontamination which saw a dozen sites around Salisbury cordoned off.  

And it sparked the biggest rift in relations between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

As it seemed Salisbury might be getting on its feet again, four months after the attack on the Skripals, two people picked up a perfume bottle in a park in the city, and returned to their home in nearby Amesbury.

Within hours Charlie Rowley and his partner Dawn Sturgess had also become seriously ill.

Both were rushed to Salisbury District Hospital, which by then had the dubious distinction of understanding immediately the symptoms they were seeing.  

It was another exposure to Novichok and Ms Sturgess - a mother-of-three - died within days.

One year on from that first attack and today the British Prime Minister has told the people of the area that this important milestone shows they are emerging from the shadow cast by the use of chemical weapons on the streets of Britain.

Theresa May has told the people of the Wiltshire city that this is a time to reflect on those affected by the attack, and the many who played a part in the recovery operation. 

It has been an extensive investigation which, as the Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police Kier Pritchard told Press Association, has been the most complex, demanding and high profile his force has ever dealt with.

It has stretched emergency services to the limit and one year on it gives, as Chief Constable Pritchard points out, "the opportunity to briefly pause and reflect on the enormity of the task" faced over the last 12 months.

It was also a task which stretched the local economy.  

A quaint tourist town - often visited as people head too see nearby Stonehenge - saw its visitor numbers halve in the wake of the attack.  

Businesses close to the numerous sites which had to be cordoned off and decontaminated were particularly badly affected.  

Many places had been just getting a sense of normality returning when the second victims were discovered.

It was a worry for both locals and visitors as the realisation dawned that they could not be sure everywhere was safe yet.

In the intervening months a major decontamination has been under way, with even the Skripals house, which was thought to be the "ground zero" of the attack, now being declared officially safe again.

Many in Salisbury will hope that this anniversary will mark another step in moving away from these events.  

A day to be marked and remembered, but also one which will fade as the city gets back to where it was before all of this began.