The recent discovery of probate material relating to John Holmes (d 1629), a provincial Jacobean cathedral organist and composer, provides three valuable references to the use of musical instruments at Salisbury Cathedral before the Civil War. These prove that the Choristers' House, where Holmes lived, contained in 1629 a consort of viols, with other (unspecified) instruments, four virginals and an organ. This evidence, though fragmentary and circumstantial, may be read in the context of what is known about the practice of instrumental music in other English cathedrals. The references can then be used to support three generally accepted theses: first, that viols were used for teaching purposes (and possibly also in a flourishing adult musical circle centred on Salisbury Cathedral, for which there is strong circumstantial evidence), rather than in liturgical contexts; second, that sackbutts and cornetts most probably doubled the voices in the choir; and third, that the organ remained the principal instrument of choral accompaniment even in the first decade of the Restoration period. Holmes had previously served as organist and master of the choristers at Winchester Cathedral, where there is also circumstantial evidence of viol-teaching activity since 1618, where wind instruments were employed (probably liturgically) in the sixteenth century, and where Holmes may have composed at least one piece of instrumental consort music, most probably for teaching purposes.