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Lincoln Castle (Lincoln)
Member Name: freediveheaven
Lincoln Castle (Lincoln)
Advantages: Interesting slice of history
Disadvantages: Had to leave the castle for my cream tea
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 it’s 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.
Summary: Lincoln Castle