“ Castle Hill, Lincoln, Lincolnshire LN1 3AA. Tel: +44 (0)1522 511 068. Lincoln Castle is where the city of Lincoln originated. William the Conqueror evicted many Saxon families to build this Castle in 1068, which also houses King John's 1215 Magna Cart „
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Over the last bank holiday weekend myself, the wife and the in-laws visited Lincoln Castle for a special concert featuring the tribute bands Killer Queen (Queen) and Bjorn Again (Abba). Despite being only 26 and 27, the wife and I are massive Abba fans and the chance to see the excellent Bjorn Again in concert was something that we couldn't pass up.
The concert was held in the grounds of the castle which is a mainly grassy area contained in the rectangular stone walls. Now, I'll be honest, I'm not much of an history lover, and so I can't tell you too much about this castle, other than it's in Lincoln and it looks like a castle. In my mind, once you've seen one castle, you've pretty much seen them all. And so rather than drone on about things I know nothing about, I'll tell you about my experiences at the concert.
The concert was due to begin at 7.30pm, with doors opening at 6.15pm. Not sure how busy it'd be, we got to Lincoln at around 5.30pm and parked-up in one of the council car parks around 2 minutes walk from the castle. We got to the castle gates and were greeted with a queue that went 2 streets back and spanned around 300 yards. With nothing else to do, we queued in the rain and were eventually let into the castle grounds.
Once the doors opened, we surveyed the scene and decided to erect our chairs on a small grass bank on the opposite side to the stage. I was slightly disappointed how far back from the stage we were, but I had to keep the mother-in-law happy... However, I needn't have worried how far back we were as the sound carried far and wide from the front and the acoustics within the castle grounds were fantastic.
Unfortunately for us, we'd picked a typical British summer's night, meaning... yes, it was p*ssing it down all night! However, this didn't spoil it for us as we enjoyed the music and the atmosphere nonetheless! :)
We'd brought our own food and drink, but for the people that hadn't there was a van selling burgers, chips and the like as well as a beer tent to supply the thirsty concert-goers. I can't comment on the price or quality of the food or drink as we'd packed enough to feed a small army and replenishments weren't needed.
Thankfully, the concert actually started 15 minutes early (due to the rain) and it was excellent throughout. Killer Queen played Queen's greatest songs and even though I'm not a massive Queen fan, it was a good start to the night. After a half hour interval, Bjorn Again came on and were as fantastic as they always are (we've seen them a few times) getting the audience involved and singing an array of Abba's best hits.
After the music we were treated to a pretty cool fireworks display that really rounded off the whole evening perfectly. All of us had a great night and we can't wait to see Bjorn Again again!
Living in Lincoln, I have never really appreciated the true greatness of this castle. It is for this reason I have decided to write a review, not only to let the world know of it's greatness but also to remind myself just how amazing it is.
Built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror on the site of an old Roman fort, Lincoln Castle is one of the best preserved examples of a Norman castle. At the time one of the most significant settlements in the country, Lincoln followed York, Warwick and Nottingham in William's network of castles in the north/east midlands aimed at upholding his new Danelaw. Aside from two battles in the 13th century, Lincoln has generally been used as a jail, and today the castle walls surround Lincoln Crown Court.
Where it is
Situated in the upmarket Bailgate area of the town, in the shadow of Lincoln Cathedral, the observatory tower on one of the castle walls offers an ideal view of the city.
There are many events on at the castle throughout the year, and also it has a tendency every year to put on a musical performance - Status Quo have performed there regularly over the last few years. The other events, usually running from April to the end of August, can include Medieval Jousting, Historical Re-enactments, children's Fun Days and Open-air Theatre.
The Magna Carta
What is the Magna Carta, I hear you say? It was basically the first written constitution, drawn up between the King, Barons and the Pope because of disagreements between the three about the powers of the King of England. Lincoln Castle is also one of the few places in the world that one of the original Magna Carta documents can be found (there are only four remaining in the world, one is in Westminster Palace, one in the British Library and one in Salisbury Cathedral). It is on display in a specially darkened room, and visitors to the castle can see it.
I am proud to come from a city that can boast such a landmark. I rarely walk round it, certainly not as much as I should, but when I do I find it interesting to see just how many tourists there are. It is only when stepping back and realising what an amazing feat of workmanship it is that one can fully appreciate the enormity of Lincoln Castle.
Adult - £3.90
Child (5-15) - £2.60
Concession (Over 60) - £2.60
Family (2 adults & up to 3 Children) - £10.40
Thanks for reading!
Lincoln Castle is situated in the heart of Historic Lincoln close to the mighty Cathedral in the Bailgate area of the city. The castle was built in 1068 by William the Conqueror (not single-handedly I assume!) , when Lincoln was one of the most important towns in England. The site itself had been occupied since Roman times and according to the Domesday Book 166 homes were destroyed to make way for the castle. Now it is one of Lincolnshire's most popular attractions and it is not difficult to see why.
Castle entry is an affordable £3.80 for Adults with concessions and family tickets available for less than £10 for a family of five, making this a very affordable day out.
Lincoln Castle is a Motte and Bailey construction and is one of only two Castles in the country with two Mottes. The magnificent castle walls and neatly lawned Castle Bailey make this a great location for all kinds of activities in the summer including archery, jousting, and even outdoor concerts and events. On a perfect summer's day, it is easy to spend most of the day in the Castle, taking a leisurely stroll around the gardens and different features of the castle as well as picnicking on the lawn and strolling among the paths, plants and small gardens areas which line the inner walls.
Entry to the Castle is typically via the Eastgate, directly opposite the Cathedral although there was also a pay booth on the West Gate entrance. The Castle shop is situated at the East Gate and while you will be given a small leaflet outlining the major points of interest around the walls, it is definitely worth investing in the wonderful official Tour guide entitled "Lincoln Castle History and Tour" for £4.50. There is a display copy, and the book is beautifully presented and packed full of information.
Only the cobblestone stone circles just outside the Eastgate give away the site of the Barbican where approaching soldiers could be trapped and killed if they dared storm the castle walls. This remained in place until the late 18th century.
Indeed none of the buildings which were inside the bailey walls, survive, but these walls would have housed stables, offices, and kitchens. The courthouse is still housed within the walls, and this site has been used as a prison and courthouse for 900 years.
Once inside the Eastgate, it is worthwhile finding your bearings with the aide of the site map provided. There are a number of different buildings housed within the castle walls themselves, and both the buildings and the walls are impressive in their own right. While the walls were probably timber originally, the herringbone Norman stonework can be traced back to 1115AD which is almost as old as the castle itself.
The "Friends of Lincoln Castle" group give regular free tours around the castle itself taking around 1.25 hours and you are invited to join at any point you wish. Unfortunately I did not see a tour taking place on my visit, but this is a great opportunity to get more insight into the castle than a mere pamphlet can provide.
The Magna Carta Exhibition
My first stop was to the Exhibition leading to the Lincoln Magna Carta, one of only four original Magna Cartas remaining in England (the other three being at the British Museum and at Salisbury Cathedral). This exhibition was a reasonable size, and it was possible to wander through within about 10-15 minutes, with the finale being the Magna Carta kept under glass in conditions to preserve it. The Magna Carta, signed at Runnymede, is said to be a constitutional set of documents which has influenced the world over, and this exhibition was extremely interesting even in its own right. There were in fact over 40 copies of the Magna Carta and this copy has been documented to be in Lincoln since that time of King John.
My second and more unplanned Gaol tour of the month is that of Lincoln Prison, which dates back to 1787 although Lincoln was the home of prisoners taken from the Battle of Culloden some forty years earlier. Most of the prison, including the dingy cells where prisoners were kept before being shipped to Australia, is not part of the tour, but it is possible to see inside the Prison Chapel. This is a fascinating small semi circular chapel and is most noted for its individual cubicles, to which prisoners were marched and forced to listen to the service for several hours, housed in cubicles which forbid them any contact with fellow prisoners, as part of the "separate regime" which was based on punishment rather than rehabilitation.
It is also possible to see parts of the women's gaol and peer inside cells, which were positively luxurious by Alcatraz standards. In fact many prisoners of the time were better off in jail, as they would be more likely to be better fed, and would even commit crime to be imprisoned!
Although the prison was used for less than 100 years, there were plenty of executions including 73 murderers but almost half that number was executed for stealing livestock!
A short walk along the castle wall across Eastgate or from the Bailey and you arrive at Cobb Hall. This was a 13th century addition and a prime defence point as can be seen by the slits for the bowmen in the construction across the levels. The upper level of the Cobb Hall gives access to the castle walls along the West, although originally it was also a place for executions, with the condemned's final view being that of the majestic Lincoln Cathedral a short walk away.
I entered Cobb Hall on the middle level from the bailey and gardens. It is a steep curved staircase of approximately 30 steps to the upper level, and there is also a tight ladder access to the lower level, where prisoners were chained to iron rings in the walls, and engraved graffiti in the walls.
It is possible to wander along the walls for quite a distance, past the Bath-house and over the Westgate, passing the Courthouse, however it isn't possible to walk all the way around to the Lucy Tower and Graveyard or Observatory, and you will find yourself backtracking to find a staircase to descend to the bailey once again. Nevertheless you should not miss the wall walks, as the views are amazing across Lincolnshire and the Trent Valley area.
Lucy Tower and the Observatory Tower
Lucy Tower is on the South Wall of the castle, behind the gaol and can be accessed by yet more steep steps up the motte. While the keep on the motte will have dated since the time the castle was built, the tower has been used in more recent history as an unconsecrated burial ground for those executed prisoners. A sycamore tree grows within the keep, providing shade.
The Observatory Tower is the highest point around the Castle Walls, although this is due to the addition of the tower onto the Eastern Keep on the second Motte just under 200 years ago. This motte is closest to the entrance at Eastgate and is worth attempting first, due to the steps to the top!
Overall, I think Lincoln Castle, and indeed Lincoln itself represent a great day or two out. The entry fee to the castle is affordable for adults, and the family ticket represents great value for money. There is also a Lincoln Pass, for those with more time on their hands for sightseeing, or staying in the area for several days. I loved visiting the castle and taking in its vast grounds. You could probably see the majority of attractions within 2 hours, but to take them in properly but I would recommend that 3-4 hours is given, to allow time to either sample the reasonably priced café snacks or to enjoy a simple picnic on the lawn. As it is a mere 35 minute drive for me, I am sure I will be back again and again.
Last weekend I had to go to Lincoln with my son who was competing in a trampoline competition. At first I was not filled with much joy at the thought of a two hour car journey departing in the early morning with the prospect of a lot of hanging around in a sports gym to watch less than four minutes of my son in action. On the positive side the competition would be done and dusted by lunch time giving us the afternoon to explore Lincoln a city I had never visited before.
Top of our list was the Cathedral however the castle certainly is a close second and fortunately they are within a stones throw of each other not that I would condone throwing stones at our great historical buildings.
A Very Brief History
Lincoln castle was one of the first to be built by William the Conqueror in the year 1086 as part of the system of castles used to control his new kingdom. It is one of only two castles in England to have two mottes and over the years it has seen its fair share of action being under siege during the Barons War ion the 13th century.
Over the following 900 years since it was built the castle has been used as a court and prison and there is still a working Crown Court within the grounds.
Although many of the original buildings no longer remain the impressively wide 12th century walls do remain and it is possible to walk along these.
A Guided Tour
There are two entrances to the castle with the largest being the East Gate. This will be your point of entry if you first visit the cathedral and was the main entry and exit point to the city of Lincoln.
Turning right out of the gift shop you will come to Cobb Hall which is a wonderful example of a Medieval Tower and climbing up to the top of the tower is not too strenuous and gives access to the wall walk. Doubling back on yourself you will have some excellent views of the cathedral and across the city of Lincoln. Passing over the East Gate you will ten come to the Observatory Tower which is a much more strenuous climb up a rather narrow dark twisting stairs. Watch your head when you reach the top but it is well worth the effort as the view is excellent. If there is any wind blowing you will certainly know about it and there is only really room for about five people at a time at the top of the tower.
Returning to ground level you can then enter a Victorian Prison building which has some rather clever displays which project three dimensional actors onto the backdrop and telling the story of conditions in the prison. The new prison block was built in 1845 and is an interesting exhibit allowing you to walk around the cells. As with all of the exhibits in the castle there is just the right amount of detail on the visual displays which keeps them informative without becoming a challenge to read. My son was particularly interested in the projected scene that showed the last few words of the first woman to be executed at the prison in private and who was subsequently found to be innocent of the murder of her husband. It was good as this gave us the chance to discuss the death penalty and his feelings towards it.
Upon leaving the prison continue walking around the outer wall and you come to Lucy Tower. This tower formed the last line of defense should the main walls be breached as it stands on the original motte of the castle. The steps up to it are steep but wide with hand rails either side and at the top there is a lovely old tree surrounded by the gravestones of prisoners executed in the Tower.
Continuing around the walls unfortunately you have to walk through the car park serving the court and at the weekends the court building is closed. Walking past the West Gate brings you to the north side of the castle. Here there is a recently built steel staircase which provides the easiest access to the wall walks for those who do not fancy climbing the steps inside of either Cobb Tower or the Observatory Tower.
At the base of the northern wall is The Bath House however at the time it was not possible to enter what was in effect the prison laundry. On the grass in front of the Bath House there is the original Castle Well and a bust of King George III.
If you walk across the grass from the Bath House you will come to the Georgian Prison Building which was built in 1787 for debtors and felons. I found this to be very interesting in particular because it housed the prison chapel. Instead of pews the prisoners stood up in wooden cells which were designed to resemble coffins and gave them only a view of the preacher and nothing else. Not only can you stand in one of the cells but also stand on the pulpit and look out over the congregation that are permanently housed their. Locking your child in is optional but to be expected, mine was not impressed proclaiming that he knew I would do it when he went in.
Also contained in the prison building is an exhibit of the Magna Carta. I was not aware that there are actually four surviving originals of the Magna Carta and one is housed at Lincoln Castle. Certainly the approach for the display was aimed at school children but I still found it very informative however I did have an urge just to get on with it and see the actual document. There is a member of staff in the room housing the Magna Carta and on the day of our visit he was only too happy to answer questions and share his wealth of knowledge.
There is a café within the castle however this was shut for refurbishment during our visit. This is not a problem as tea shops and restaurants abound just outside of the castle gates and most of these were open even on a Sunday in January.
The toilets were clean and serviceable and were accessible with ramps where required.
There are free guided tours available and these last about 75 minutes at 11.00 and 2.00 respectively.
It is easy to find located as it is on Castle Hill. Follow the brown historical Lincoln signs as you approach the city and there is adequate car parking in and around the castle and cathedral however on the Sunday we visited we were able to street park for free.
Opening Hours and Admission
The castle is open between the hours of 9.30am to 5.30 pm Monday to Saturdays with a later opening time of 11.30 on a Sunday. In winter the castle closes at 4.00pm.
Admission is £3.70 for adults, £2.15 for concessions and £9.60 for a family ticket. Under fives get in for free.
Check out the website for any additional activities that take place such as heraldry and jousting events that happen in the summer months.
To conclude this is a great attraction for all the family and a nice way to spend a couple of hours. In fact in the summer the grassed area would be a nice place to eat a picnic. It is certainly suitable for all of the family with a range of things to see to keep all ages interested. Those who are afraid of the dark or heights will probably give the Observatory Tower a miss but there is plenty at ground level for everyone.
For more information check out the friends of Lincoln Castle website
Oh and my son came first in his competition so it was a pretty good day out.
Thanks for reading and rating my review.
In 1989 it cost 75p to get into Lincoln Castle of a weekend. I was 14 and studying (amongst others) GCSE History. We learnt all about the castle, the names of the towers and various inhabitants etc, and had to do quite a few field trips. Although I've forgotten most of this, it was a really special place for me. I remember walking round the turrets with the 3 other people in the class, laughing and having picnics. Then, at the weekend, when we'd spent our pocket money in the town centre (cream teas at Stokes Coffee Shop - which hasn't changed one little bit in eleven years!), we would traipse up the imaginatively named 'Steep Hill' to the castle and sit at the top of the Observatory Tower with the world at our feet (Lincoln was the whole world when I was fourteen!) talking our lives away! It was such an idealic time, I was one of those rare and lucky teenagers who had great friends and knew that her school days were the best days of her life, and whenever I think of Lincoln Castle it's always bathed in sunlight and echoing with the sound of my old friends' laughter. There, wasn't that poetic! Well, I had to leave Lincoln two years later (possibly the biggest tragedy of my life) and I'm writing all this twaddle as a way of setting the scene and giving you an idea of how I was feeling when I took my three and a half year old son to visit the castle nearly twelve years after I had left. I was pretty apprehensive at first, especially as my Dad had once taken us back to the place where he grew up - raving all the way about the huge fabulous park he used to play in, the beautiful old church he used to go to and the great swimming pool with the massive slides. When we got there the park was tiny - about the size of our local common -the church was locked , and the swimming pool had been replaced by a Chinese restaurant! He's drummed it into me ever since that you can't go back!! However, Pierce had ha
d a toy castle for Christmas and wanted to see the castle in Mummy's photos. So here we were twelve years later heading home again for the day. The first thing I noticed was the price: £2.00 per adult and £1.20 for Pierce, why I thought it would stay the same after so long I don't know! Still the price is great for what you get, and everything else was just perfect. In fact, as a nice little touch, the sun even broke through an otherwise cloudy day just as we were approaching the castle, and shone for the whole visit! Anyway, the purpose of this opinion (somewhat lost beneath the misty eyed memories I know!) was to tell you all why you should pack up a picnic hamper right away and head straight off for Lincoln Castle. So I'll get on with it. Firstly, It's situated in the Bailgate area of Lincoln, a very 'Olde Worlde' part of the town at the top of a hill. Opposite the castle, just across the square, is one of Englands' most beautiful cathedrals; the site of ancient Roman ruins is just around the corner, and the museum of Lincolnshire life (one of the few museums I have ever been to that makes history interesting for kids) is within walking distance. Not to mention all the gorgeous little shops and cafes. So you really can make a great day out of it. The castle itself was built in 1068 by William the Conquerer. It's one of only two in Britain to have two mottes! Lewes Castle is the other. What makes it such a great castle to visit is its completeness, you can really get a feel of what it would have been like to live there all that time ago. Inside the castle walls is a large grassed area (they occasionally have concerts here - I saw Clannad play at night many moons ago - magical!) and several buildings which house the County Court and old victorian prisons - in use between 1787 and 1878 - which they have now set up with waxworks to show the conditions in which the prisoners were kept. You can see the Mag
na Carta in the little museum and there's a lovely gift shop and café. One of my favourite places is the eerie prison chapel. The pews were designed like rows of individual upright coffins which prevented the prisoners from distracting each other and reminded them of their ultimate fate! (I used to play hide and seek in them as a youth!). There is one raised bench at the back that condemned prisoners would sit on to hear their final sermon. All of this is accessible and you can get in to the pews and aisles. You can walk almost right round the castle walls, viewing the whole of Lincoln City. One of the things that breaks the circle is the Lucy Tower, named after the mother of the Countess of Chester who had the tower built. Originally it was twice the current height and had rooms built onto the sides - you can just see the joist holes where the beams would have sat. Later it was used as a grave yard for prisoners, and is one of the most peaceful places in the whole of Lincoln (as long as you don't go on bank holiday weekend!). Leaving the Lucy Tower and continuing round to the right, you come to the Observatory Tower with it's rooms at the base. You need to be fit for this one. As the name suggests, it was the look out tower for oncoming attack and the spiral stair case seems to go forever! The views are worth it though. Take some twenty pence pieces with you as there are little telescope dotted round the turret and at the top of the tower. If you have young child like mine, expecting them to pass a telescope without having a go is just fool hardy! Moving in the same direction round the castle walls, you'll come to an innocent looking wooden platform on top - this is where they used to hang folks!. There are steps going down to the dungeons from this platform. When you go down the first flight of stairs you reach a kind of landing before going down to the real dark dungeons. Take a close look at the seats b
y the window. Prisoners would sit here while the gallows were being made ready for them and there are carvings in the walls of Christ on the Cross. They've been covered with perspex to preserve them but are still quite easy to miss. Down then into the dungeons. Again none of this is off limits and you feel really free to explore. Pierce loved this, though he held my hand tight while his eyes got accustomed to the dark! There are regular free guided tours if you want to make sure you don't miss anything, and they do a range of special events throughout the year - medieval re-enactments, the famous Christmas market, firework displays etc. I'd say you have to be reasonably fit to see Lincoln castle properly, there are a lot of steps! But it's worth it, and if you take a picnic (plenty of grassy slopes in the grounds) it's a very cheap day out that will keep the kids interested and maybe even teach them a little about history. Personally, I'm just glad my castle's still the same and my lovely memories are intact!