Lincoln: History Lessons and British Treasures

Last week I finally made my way up north to visit some old university friends in the Lincolnshire Wolds. It was my first time exploring what the North East region has to offer and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. Though time was scarce, it didn’t stop me making them most of my time, exploring the sights around Lincoln. I have compiled a few select highlights of the city below…

Lincoln Castle

Discover a wealth of rich British history at Lincoln Castle. Dating back to 1068, it plays home to one of only four surviving copies of Magna Carta from 1215. It was brought home by the Bishop of Lincoln and is owned by the neighbouring cathedral, but is now on a display loan at the castle. Built by William the Conqueror in 1068 on a site occupied since Roman times, the elongated walls of this ancient fortress have dominated the town’s skyline for close to a thousand years.

The castle is known for the 1217 Battle of Lincoln Fair, as French forces lay siege to Lincoln Castle. Recent excavation work unearthed an ancient, Anglo-Scandinavian church 3m below, with skeletons and miscellaneous objects dating back to Roman, Medieval, Georgian and Victorian eras on display. Visitors can also discover stories of life in the Georgian and Victorian prison, founded in 1788, it housed the ‘separate system’ to retain its inmates and is thought to be the only original evidence of its kind left in the world. There are also events for all the family to enjoy throughout the year, with the Heritage Centre offering craft sessions, from glass works to stone carving. The inner courtyard is free to enter, with the green lawn perfect for a summer picnic beneath the castle walls.

Lincoln Cathedral

Lincoln’s cathedral was once described by Victorian writer John Ruskin as “out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles’’ and during its consecration, headed up the largest diocese in England: from the Humber to the Thames. William the Conqueror commissioned the first Bishop of Lincoln, to build the cathedral Norman invasion of Britain back in the 11th century. Today it is considered one of Europe’s finest Gothic buildings and was once the tallest in the world, offering panoramic views from the rooftop, with intricate design found throughout its interior.

Inside there are many interesting and hidden assets to be found, from the stunning array of architecture and design, to hidden medieval libraries and traces local legend. Younger visitors may wish to hunt out the Lincoln Imp, supposedly turned to stone by an angel after misbehaving. There is also a facsimile of Magna Carta near the cloister and an Airmen’s Chapel, with Books of Remembrance to those who flew from the surrounding RAF bases in the ll World War.

Steep Hill & Cathedral Quarter

Initially known to the local population as ‘Lindum Colonia’, when the Romans decided to expand their settlement, nowadays, Steep Hill is known for its wealth of independent boutiques, cosy tea rooms and confectionary shops. This quaint cobbled street can be quite the climb, known to be one of the steepest in the country. It is also said that the Mayor’s Chair was once placed on the steep incline during the 18th century, providing a place of respite for weary travellers.

Roam the cobbled streets of Lincoln’s delightful Cathedral Quarter for a blend of culture, cuisine, and history. There are a number of buildings of historical interest around the area, with an art gallery dating back to the 15th century, a Norman House of 12th century origin, with double-arched windows, as well as a charming, half-timbered Harlequin 18th century inn turned bookstore.

We bought a joint ticket, allowing us reduced entry to both the Lincoln Castle and Cathedral and gave the audio guided tour a try as we wandered the walls, allowing for discovery at our own pace, providing interesting highlights as we took in wonderful panoramic views across Lincolnshire. We also took a brief look round Castle Square and ventured down Steep Hill and I am already keen to return for the Lincoln Christmas Market, a festive take on the usual monthly Art, Antique and Farmers markets known to cumulate round this central meeting place.

It is also worth mentioning, the modern adaption of downtown Lincoln, which has a wealth of independent shops and high street brands, catering to a shopper’s every whim. There is also a great choice of eateries, from traditional English pubs to all-you-can-eat buffets, with tea rooms and coffee shops to meet and greet friends. All-in-all, despite the weather, it was a delightful first array into this naturally photogenic northern county and highly recommend a visit.

Fun Fact: Lord Alfred Tennyson, famous Victorian poet Laureate was born and raised in Lincolnshire.

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