Our next trip was quite tricky as we only had a certain amount of time to do it in, leaving from Manchester, as we needed to get back for my friend to give us a lift home or it would cost us more to get another train. We had to get to Sheffield and make our connection there or the whole day would be a little too rushed. Thankfully we made it all on time, and here is our day in Lincoln…
Status: City of Lincoln District, Lincolnshire, City, England
Travel: East Midlands Trains (Manchester Piccadilly – Sheffield), Northern Rail (Sheffield – Lincoln)
Eating & Sleeping: Costa Coffee, Tesco
Attractions: Lincoln Cathedral, Lincoln Castle, River Witham, Bishop’s Palace, Empowerment Sculpture, Brayford Pool, Sir Joseph Banks Conservatory, Museum of Lincolnshire Life, The Collection, Lincoln Guildhall, The High Bridge, Gold Post Box, Exchange Arcade, War Memorial, Steep Hill etc
Lincoln is another ancient, medieval city and has streets similar to those in Lichfield, which we visited a few weeks ago. Coming away from the train station, we joined the High Street which leads all the way up to the magnificent Lincoln Cathedral.
Halfway up the High Street, you will pass underneath the stunning medieval Guildhall/Gateway. Originally completed back in the late 15th Century, the building is officially known as the “Guildhall & Stonebow”. The term Stonebow refers to a stone archway, whilst surrounding it the rest of the structure is the Guildhall. The City Council still meets in the grand Council Chamber inside.
From here we made our way to the steep hill that leads up the Cathedral. It is not just a steep hill, that is its name, “Steep Hill” and you can see why. The Cathedral is a long way up, overlooking the city and it’s so high that we could see it from afar as we approached the city on the train. Overall the hill is 420 metres long, and it feels much longer trying to walk up it, but the experience is worth it.
One of the most famous houses on the street is the “Jew’s House” one of the earliest town houses in England, dating from the 12th century. It was called the Jew’s House because in 1290 all the Jews were forcibly removed from England (as in 1255 a small boy died and it was thought he was sacrificed by the Jews, with the resulting consequences) and the house was supposedly seized from a Jewish Owner.
On the way up to the Cathedral is another historic building, the Medieval Bishop’s Palace. It was built in the 12th century and was used as the administrative centre of the local Diocese. Unfortunately it was ransacked during the Civil War and abandoned, and is now a ruin but some of the buildings have survived in decent condition.
One of the less obvious landmarks up the hill is the “Mayor’s Chair” shown to the left where two people are sat. A plaque next to it explains its significance:
“Traditionally a place to rest on Steep Hill. The bench draws its inspiration from an ornate 17th Century carved seat which can be found in the city’s Guildhall.”
Supposedly the original chair was used by the Mayor of Lincoln to rest on his way to the Cathedral after the long climb up the Steep Hill.
At the top we found a Gold Post Box, dedicated to Sophie Wells, a Member of the Equestrian Team who won Gold at the London 2012 Olympics.
The Tourist Information Office was also located here, and at either end of the square was the Castle and the Cathedral.
We picked the Cathedral to look at first, and headed through a large arch marking the approach the building. It’s so tall we could already clearly see it above the arch, and this was the sight that greeted us as we arrived (pictured). Just like Lichfield Cathedral, this view made me step back and look again to make sure I was getting the sheer scaled of it. There are people in this photograph around the bottom of the Cathedral for a scale comparison and show how tall it is!
Built between 1185 and 1311, the building originally had a central spire, but this collapsed in 1549 and was never replaced. The front two towers also originally had spires. The building laid claim to be the tallest in the world for 238 years, ending its reign in 1549.
The current building was built as the previous Cathedral was all but destroyed in an earthquake in 1185, and construction on the new building started in the same year.
We did get to go inside, and you have to pay to get beyond the entrance and the shop, but we could see clearly the front of the cathedral, a vast, cavernous space full of architecture and fabulous stained glass windows. It was in 1311 that the main tower reached its current height of 83 metres tall.
The Magna Carta (A historic document signed in 1215 aimed curbing the amount of power the King had to protect the people) was signed by the then Bishop of Lincoln, Hugh of Wells (Died 1235) and only four copies survive today, two in London, one in Salisbury and one in the adjacent Lincoln Castle.
This is the square I mentioned earlier that the Steep Hill empties out into, and at the back of the picture is the arch we passed through to reach the Cathedral. The Post Box is located down the right hand side between some of the chairs and tables around the shops. On the left is the Tourist Information Centre in the black and white building.
It is one of the best medieval views we have had so far, and is what I think of when I think of a quintessential British town or city, and it’s something Britain is very good at, preserving it’s history.
All of the buildings in the square date back centuries, and appear to be little unchanged.
As I said before, across the way from Lincoln Cathedral is Lincoln Castle, a series of impressive buildings, guarded by a gate post that is flanked by two cannons, which for some reason are aiming at the Cathedral so I hope it doesn’t go off by accident!
Through the gate post is the ticket office and gift shop, and we could see the main Castle building. We didn’t go in as we had a lot to see and do during the day but we did stop to gaze through at the different buildings.
Lincoln Castle began it’s life in the 11th century, when William the Conqueror (1028 – 1087) built it on the site of the original Roman Fortress on the site. In 1066 William had beaten King Harold at the Battle of Hastings (1022 – 1066) and began his takeover of England, but the further northwards he went the harder this became, so he set himself up with some impressive Castles in the region, and along with Lincoln he built castles at York (Clifford’s Tower), Nottingham and Warwick.
In order to build the Castle, at least 166 houses had to be demolished to free up space.
From the Castle, we walked back down Steep Hill to the main pedestrianised shopping areas, where the River Witham passes under the street after making its way out of Brayford Pool, which is on the next picture. The riverside is a pleasant area and flanked by shops. The Sculpture that is crossing the River here is the called the Empowerment Sculpture, which was installed in 2002. The figures resemble turbine blades, and this is deliberate as it is intended to reflect the cities industrial heritage.
Like the Angel of North around Newcastle, this sculpture is now used in promotional material for the city and has become a well known Lincoln Icon. The two figures are reaching towards each other over the river.
Right at the back of the previous photograph, and shown in close up here behind the greenery you can make out a bridge covered in buildings. This is the High Bridge over the River, with the Brayford Pool behind it. It lies on the High Street before you reach the Guildhall coming from the station.
It is the oldest bridge in Britain that has buildings on it, and was built around 1160. The shops that currently stand on it are from 1550, which is amazing.
There are only two other bridges in the UK with shops on them, both in Somerset, the Pulteney Bridge in Bath, and a bridge in Frome town centre.
There are a number of interesting buildings up and down the High Street, including the “Exchange Arcade” shown above.
Located in a small square just off the High Street back towards the train station, the Exchange is a Victorian Building, with the Western Section, which we were stood in front of, dating back to 1847. The rest of the building to the rear was then completed by 1880.
When it opened, it was used as the Corn Exchange, where local traders could meet and trade under one roof.
On the other side of the High Street, just a few doors up you will find the towns War Memorial, completed in 1922 at the end of World War I.
It stands outside the Church of St Benedict, completed in the late 13th century. It is a shadow of its former self, as some of the main portions of the building such as the Nave were eventually demolished. Today it is the HQ of the “Lincoln Diocesan Mother’s Union”, and a notable historic building on the high street.
This is the Brayford Pool, which is actually just part of the River Witham, that has been widened to create a large natural lake, which is used as a marina and there are boats moored around the edges. A new quayside is visible on the right, full of shops. From here views of the Lincoln landmark buildings up the Steel Hill are visible, including one in particular…
This is a photograph I took from just down from the Brayford Pool. It shows the Cathedral in all it’s glory, and I even got the sun shining on it to light it up a bit. You can see the two front towers where we were stood earlier, and the central tower which was once adorned with a rising spire. It is a very long building, and even from here the detail is impeccable.
This was the last thing we saw in Lincoln, as it was time to head back to Manchester, but what a view to finish with. Lincoln has a long history, and even the first ever tanks were constructed in the city.
Lincoln is a genuinely beautiful, historic city and if you want to see a medieval English city, then Lincoln (along with York) is your best option. Other attractions include the Sir Joseph Banks (1743 – 1820) Conservatory, dedicated to the British Explorer of the same name, and is a tropical building that houses various exotic types of plant life. Also there is the Museum of Lincolnshire Life chronicling the history of the County and City since 1750. There are various exhibitions, and the museum is in a former Barracks building from 1857.
Lincoln is well connected by rail, with trains heading to London, Sheffield and Peterborough as well as easy connections to the rest of the UK. The M1 isn’t too far West of the city, giving connections up to Leeds and Bradford via the M62 which then runs over to Manchester, Salford, Liverpool and the M6 (For Scotland and Birmingham) and the M61 (For Preston).
Leeds Bradford International Airport is the closest major airport.
I would recommend Lincoln to anyone, and I hope you are as impressed with it as I was.