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No visitor to Lincoln can fail to see its Cathedral, which along with Lincoln Castle dominates the town and both of these impressive landmarks can be seen from many miles around.
Construction of the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lincoln, to give it its full title, began in 1092 although it was not until 1311 that it was completed. At that time it was not only the tallest building in Britain but the tallest building in the world and remained so for the next 200 years. It originally stood 525 feet (160 metres) tall but during the 16th century disaster struck and the main tower collapsed, which was never rebuilt. Today Lincoln's Cathedral stands just a measly 271 feet (83 metres) high. In fact Lincoln Cathedral has seen its fair share of disasters and has also survived an earthquake and a serious fire.
Lincoln Cathedral is located right in the centre of the historic town and is not really something that you would struggle to find as it is well sign-posted from the corner of all of the narrow, cobbled streets.
I visited Lincoln Cathedral at the beginning of December 2007. My main reason for visiting Lincoln was for the Christmas Market but since both the Castle and the Cathedral are all very close to one another it is actually possible to visit all three attractions at the same time. Prior to this visit I had only ever been here once before, although I was quite young and I don't remember a great deal about it.
There is a charge to enter Lincoln Cathedral, something that I found quite surprising, although this charge is seemingly justified by the fact that the upkeep of this place is £50,000 per week.
The current admission charges are:
Adults - £4.00
Concessions - £3.00
Children (aged 5-16) - £1.00
Children under 5 - Free
When you enter the Cathedral and part with your money you are given a leaflet but tour guide books cost a further £3.95 so it can work out to be quite an expensive visit. There are also a number of different guided tours that can be taken including floor tours, roof tours and tower tours. These take place at various different times throughout the week but usually have to be arranged in advance because they do fill up quickly. I visited on Sunday when no guided tours take place. Photography is allowed inside the cathedral providing that it is not for commercial use.
The first two things that struck me about Lincoln Cathedral close up was its huge size and also the fact that it looked very white and clean.
With such a grand exterior one would expect something quite spectacular inside and it has to be said that I was not disappointed. There is plenty to see inside other than the standard items that you would expect like the stained glass windows and fancy gold ornate decorations. If you are visiting for the first time a guided tour or a tour guide book would be useful but I was fortunate to be with a friend that once worked as a tour guide in Lincoln as she pointed out many of the main features to me.
The Angel Choir and Shrine to St Hugh was one of the items that was pointed out to me. This is small chapel or to describe it another way it is small a church within the Cathedral. This is also the area where the Lincoln Imp is to be found although hunting it down is still a bit of a challenge. There are many different myths and legends associated with the Lincoln Imp but my favourite one is that the Devil sent two mischievous imps to do evil work on Earth. They caused destruction all across England and eventually turned up in Lincoln Cathedral where they regularly tripped up the Bishop and smashed tables and chairs. Then one day an Angel turned one of the imps to stone but the other one escaped.
After the Angel Choir and Shrine to St Hugh the imposing West Front was pointed out with its Romanesque Frieze. I also saw the tomb of Katherine Swynford and the breathtaking stained glass windows of the Dean's Eye and Bishop's Eye.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Lincoln Cathedral but due to the cost it is probably somewhere that I would not be in a big rush to visit again.
The Cathedral is open during the following times.
Monday to Friday from 7.15am until 8pm
Saturday and Sunday from 7.15am until 6pm
Monday to Friday from 7.15am until 6pm
Saturday and Sunday from 7.15am until 5pm
Lincoln Cathedral has dominated the skyline of Lincoln for over 900 years and has survived fire, earthquake and collapsed towers in its lifetime. As it is literally a stones throw from the fantastic Lincoln Castle, it is possible to do both attractions and visit some of Lincolns shops and bars on a day trip. Lincoln Cathedral was, amazingly, the worlds tallest building for a period of 250 years until 1549.
Entry to the Cathedral costs £4 with £3 concessions available for people on benefits and children age 5-16 pay only £1. Annual passes are also available for those who live locally, for an affordable £15.
It might not feel quite right to have to pay to enter a place of worship, but it costs £50,000 per week to keep the Cathedral open for visitors and to maintain it. At least it is a reasonably affordable entry fee that will not put too many people off entering whether singles or families.
Interestingly when you pay your admission you are simply given a leaflet with the day of the week on the front, and this leaflet apparently lets you re-enter the Cathedral as many times as you want. Im not sure if this means they lose revenue as it would seem very easy to give your ticket to someone on the way out, giving them a free entry. It was a little strange to say the least.
You can also sign up for a roof tour, which looked fascinating although we did not attempt it. You need to be physically fit, as it involves over 300 stairs and numbers are limited per tour so pre booking is essential.
We did opt to pay more for a self guided Audio Tour, which was available for an extra £1 per head. I have done a few of this kind of tour lately and I have generally found them to be a good way of finding out more about a place than simply walking around and referring to a pamphlet.
The Audio tour lasted around 45 minutes but there were plenty of option extra recordings over and beyond that, giving more information on the history and architecture of the Cathedral.
With its front doors facing to the West, its transepts, the fantastic church within a church that is St Hughs choir and the Cloister and Chapter House, Lincoln Cathedral is an impressive building. It wasnt always this large though. William the Conqueror decided the cathedral of the diocese should be removed from nr Oxford to Lincoln, where the castle had already been established. The building was consecrated in 1092. That Cathedral was not as long as the present cathedral, and indeed its towers were nowhere near as tall.
Fairly early on in its life, a mere 50 years later the Cathedral was thought to have been damaged during the civil war between King Stephen and Matilda. The cathedral was lovingly restored and the wooden roof of the nave was most likely replaced with stone at this time, the two west towers at the entry door were also added.
Tragedy struck again with an earthquake in 1185 and once again there was extensive work carried out. The Cathedral increased in size somewhat considerably, with the addition of the second transept, the cloisters and Chapter House and the style became more gothic.
Around the 14th century more work took place, shaping the Cathedral to how it looks today. Both the West Towers and the central tower were heightened considerably, and the Angel Choir was added to the East Face and was consecrated in 1280.
The audio tour divides the cathedral up into 9 distinct areas. One of the biggest attractions in the Nave is the 12th century marble font. Rather larger than the one I remember in the church of my childhood, the font is decorated with mythical creatures representing good and evil, as a reminder that baptism begins with a cleansing. Just off the Nave is the Morning Chapel, where visitors are reminded to enter quietly. While dating from a period much more recent than the Cathedral itself I particularly liked the Stations of the Cross, carved in wood by William Fairbanks, and had a very modern contemporary feel. These are a long term loan to the Cathedral from the sculptor and represent seven years work.
The North and South Transepts meet under the Central Tower of the Cathedral. Here the stunning Rose Windows the Deans Eye and the Bishops Eye - dominate this area. These windows, both positioned over four striking stained glass windows are of an awesome size and packed with detail. A small display near the North Deans Eye window highlights the very different designs between the two. The Deans Eye window was the object of a recent £2million restoration project, an undertaking which has not been seen in Europe since the Notre Dam restoration over 130 years ago. The restoration took 16 years to complete.
When you stand under the Central Tower in the Crossing area, it is actually quite breathtaking to gain an appreciation of the size of the construction given the age of the Cathedral.
My personal favourite major areas of the cathedral were the St Hughs Choir, the Cloisters, and I also liked the Gilbert Pots and hunting down the Lincoln Imp. The Choir, in the centre of the Cathedral dates back 900 years, and is dominated by the impressive organ pipes.
The Cloister and Chapter House were one of the later additions to the Cathedral at Lincoln, and strictly speaking they were not necessary as clergy were not living a monastic life at Lincoln. Nevertheless it is an attractive addition. The ten sided Chapter House is currently housing a very small display about the Da Vinci code as it was used to represent Westminster Abbey in the film. This is a very small display and certainly not worth going to the Cathedral for that alone, but it was an interesting exhibit.
Overall I enjoyed my visit to Lincoln Cathedral and I would say it represents reasonable value for money. If I only had the time to visit the Castle or the Cathedral, I would probably choose the Castle as that provides a broader view on history than the cathedral can. However for anyone interested in both the church and architecture, Lincoln Cathedral will certainly not disappoint.
Visit www.lincolncathedral.com for opening hours and visitor information.
~~ Lincoln Cathedral ~~
Visiting Lincoln Cathedral was one of the main reasons for this years holiday in Lincolnshire, when I was about 10 yrs of age in Junior School we did a project on Lincoln and one on architecture, tying the two projects together with Lincolns historic buildings. I was so impressed with Lincoln Cathedral I have always wanted to come back for another visit. My hubby made my year by suggesting Lincolnshire for our holiday and he took me around loads of beautiful historic buildings, I was one very lucky lady.
~~ History ~~
The first Cathedral was initially a lot smaller than the magnificent building you see today, work started in 1072, it was a Norman Cathedral denoted by the Norman (rounded) arches and it was also built in the shape of a cross.
There are three architectural features that have stuck in my mind since that project in junior school; they are the Norman arched windows, which are rounded at the top, compared to the Gothic arches which are pointed at the top of the arches and finally the flying buttresses. All these wonderful pieces of architecture can be found in Lincoln Cathedral. Sorry I digressed back to the history of the Cathedral.
It went through some restoration after a fire in 1141 which destroyed some of the roof, causing the timber ceilings to be replaced with stone vaults. After an earthquake in 1185 the Cathedral took on a major refurbishment and virtually doubled in size compared to the original building (ok, it may not be exactly double, Ive not measured it, and I am only going from the pictures).
St Hugh was the Bishop of Lincoln at the time bringing his influence on the design; it is here we get the Gothic style coming in and the flying buttresses that I remember so well. There was one more major set back during its history when the central tower collapsed around 1237. Work on replacing this started straight away, King Henry III gave permission for them to dismantle part of the towns extended wall to enlarge the Cathedral and rebuild the towers, over the coming years the three towers were all given spires. These were later lost or taken down after one of the towers was taken by heavy winds in 1548. Without the spires you now have the Cathedral as it is seen today.
Although only a small section remains of the original building which can be found in the fortress-like centre of the west front, you should notice the large blocks of limestone and the round-headed recesses over the doors. The Cathedral has really beautiful architecture which stretches across the centuries.
~~ Our Visit ~~
I really wanted to show my hubby the beautiful stained glass windows of the Deans Eye and the Bishops Eye. Also the wonderful architecture I have already mentioned, oh and not forgetting the Lincoln Imp. He got to see these and much, much more it was lovely seeing the Cathedral cast its spell over him, he loved it, so stay with me now and I will take you on our journey.
Lincoln Cathedral is on the top of a very steep hill surrounded by cobbled streets, beautiful and elegant houses, I was as impressed with them as I was with the Cathedral. You cannot help but be impressed by this large decorative building; it simply takes your breath away. The Cathedral has undergone a lot of cleaning and restoration work which is an on going process.
We started our journey in the main entrance where we paid our £4.00 entrance fee and picked up a guide book for £3.95 (which is very colourful and informative). I asked the lady if you can still climb up the Central Tower as I remember going up there as a child and looking at the clock and the bells on the way up to the top. I wouldnt be able to do it today, but I was dutifully informed that the tower is only open on Saturdays. During our visit it came on Central News that three cellists climbed the top of the tower and played on the roof, to raise money for charity.
The nice lady informed us that a guided tour would be starting in approx 15 minutes time, but we declined as I cannot get about too easily and my hubby did not want me to feel pressured into trying to keep up.
So off we went on our own, there is so much to see and look at with the magnificent carvings, there were really very skilled people about throughout history. It is such a shame that stone masons and carpentry seems to be a dying talent. We were just looking at the polished black marble font, from the 12th century when the organ (well someone playing it) started playing the Teddy Bears Picnic. The acoustics were wonderful and a very pleasant cheerful sound to accompany our visit.
I dont remember how many times the song was played, because I was so engrossed in enjoying my surroundings. We headed down through the Nave and veered off to the left down towards the Cloister, Chapter House and the Coffee Shop. The toilets were down here as well and we were both in dire need so off we went. They did provide male, female and disabled toilets that were kept clean, functional and tidy.
After a short pit stop we popped into the Chapter House where they advertised they were holding the Da Vinci Code exhibition. I dont know what I really expected, but after watching the film the night before (which I really enjoyed) I was looking forward to seeing it. We were very disappointed but I have to say this was the only disappointment of the whole visit. All there was to see were large cardboard arches with photos of the cast and crew filming inside the Cathedral.
We were impressed with the Chapter House which has ten sides and was build around 1220; this was also supported by eight flying buttresses and pinnacles to counter weight of the enormous thrust of the vault and roof above. When you walk in the size of it is amazing and the faded paintings on the wall must have been spectacular in their day.
We moved from here to the café to have a refreshment break and rest my legs, it was a nice day so we walked through the small café area and sat outside on one of the tables by the statue of Lord Alfred Tennyson.
After drinking our tea and coffee we headed back into the Cathedral and over to St Hughes Choir, my hubby was really impressed by the wooden carvings here especially the pulpit which was a masterpiece of craftsmanship. You also find in here a 1667 large brass eagle lectern which is still used today. My hubby was clicking away with our camera taking loads of pictures.
One thing that sometimes gets missed when you are looking at everything is the chandeliers and Lincoln Cathedral has a beautiful one in Brass, this is also found in St Hughes Choir and is complemented by the dark oak surroundings.
Now for the hunt of the Lincoln Imp, I have told my hubby the story of the mischievous little devil that played havoc, according the stories that it, this all happened when they were trying to build the Cathedral, because of all the trouble he caused it is foretold that the angels turned him to stone. He is quite a character to look at with horns and claws; he is covered in feathers and sits there casually crossing his leg. We got the guide book out and worked out our location so we could find him on the diagram. We were in luck he was only a couple of pillars down from where we were standing and for 20p we could put him in the spotlight.
Excitement over we had located the Imp so we moved off and went to light a candle and say a little prayer, we did this in the Burghersh Chantry, and this was decorated with large modern pottery candle sticks and pots with sand for you to add your lighted candle to. There is a little box where you can leave your donations towards the candles.
You will see many beautiful stained glass windows whilst here each depicting their own little story and many dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries. The two largest windows are the Deans Eye and the Bishops Eye and these can be found where the Nave crosses, where there are the North and South transepts respectively.
I was getting a little tired now and this is a large Cathedral so it was time for a break and we still had the Lincoln Castle to visit later on. We could leave the Cathedral at any time and come back if we wanted to as our ticket held true for the whole day. It wasnt until much later when I was relaxing that I found out I had missed visiting the vast libraries. I will have to tell you about these from the brochure, (which has a lovely picture of the Wren Library). Taken from the brochure Michael Honywood was appointed Dean at the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. Cathedral Chapters and choirs had been abolished since 1643, and the damage to the fabric of the Cathedral was enormous. Honywoods great legacy to Lincoln Cathedral was his gift of the Wren Library. In 1674 he chose the famous English Baroque Architect, Sir Christopher Wren, who designed the new building over an open loggia, or walkway, on the site of the then ruinous north range of the cloister. Honywood bequeathed his vast library of around 5000 books, on a wide range of subjects, to add to the 100 medieval manuscripts already in the possession of the Cathedral, which were kept chained to the oak desks in the 1422 Medieval Library. This earlier building had originally extended south towards the Chapter House, but nearly half of it was lost in a fire, the date of which was not recorded. It is known that repairs were carried out in 1789, when the truncated exterior of the Medieval Library was faced in ashlar masonry in order to make it blend in with the Wren Library. Its roof retains mostly original timbers, bosses, and carved angels. This room is used for annual exhibitions, usually about some aspect of church history, based on the books and manuscripts from the librarys collection and the Dean and Chapter archives.
At night time Lincoln Cathedral is lit up and looks spectacular against the night sky, it can be seen form up to 30miles away.
I would most definitely recommend a visit here and it is excellent value for money if you enjoy the beauty of historic buildings.
~~ Other Information ~~
The Cathedral has its own colour magazine keeping you up to date on the goings on within the Cathedral, this is called The Lincoln Cathedral Times, it is free and comes out twice a year.
The Deans Eye rose window has for the past 16yrs been going through a major restoration project costing £2 million. What a wonderful opportunity this became for the few Stonemasons that are about today to leave their mark on history. Even the stained glass went through some restoration work, although 70% of the glass is still original, many panels had to be re-leaded, keeping as much of the 19th century lead as they could. The glass was cleaned and treated leaving a very impressive and beautiful fully restored window that is there today.
If you wish to help the Cathedral raise the funds for the continuing restoration, they operate an Adopt a Stone scheme which starts at £25, this will get you a block of stone, for £50 you could get an etched stone and for £120 you could adopt a carved piece of stone.
~~ Location ~~
At the top of a very steep hill
www.lincolncathedral.com for any further info
Thank you for sharing my experience, I hope I did not bore you too much.
Serenely settled at the peak of one of Lincolnshire's highest points sits the majestic cathedral church of st Mary - better known as Lincoln Cathedral. Due to its geographical position, Lincoln Cathedral can be see from approximately 20 miles in any direction. --------------------------------------------- History. The Cathedral was originally built by Bishop Romegius, and consecrated in 1092. Romegius was a Benedictine Monk and a supporter of William the Conqueror in 1066. Romegius was also the first Norman bishop of the largest diocese in Mediaeval England - this diocese stretched from the River Humber down to the Thames. The original cathedral of this diocese was situated in Dorchester, close to Oxford, but William ordered the bishopric should move to Lincoln, where William had already had the castle built. Lincoln cathedral was built from Lincolnshire oolitic limestone and situated opposite the castle, thus offering excellent protection from invasion due to its vantage point high above the county. The cathedral was damaged by fire in or around 1141, and partially rebuilt by Alexander "the magnificent", who was Bishop of Lincoln from 1123-48. In his "History of the English", Henry of Huntingdon stated that: "...the bishop restored the cathedral with such subtle workmanship that it was more beautiful than ever before, and second to none in England". I would agree with that! An earthquake struck in 1185, damaging the basic structure of the cathedral. The bishop of this time, St Hugh (Bishop of Lincoln 1186-1200) began the reconstruction in 1192. The cathedral was reconstructed in a Gothic style, with pointed - no longer round - arches, ribbed vaults and flying buttresses, which enabled large, stained glass windows and large roof spans to be inserted. St Hugh died in 1200, before work was complete. In 1237, the central Tower of the cathedral collapse
d. A new tower was started and, in 1255, henry the Third allowed part of the town wall to be removed, thus allowing for enlargement of the cathedral. The rounded chapels were replaced with a larger, square east end. This was done in order that the huge amount of pilgrims that were visiting could have access to St Hugh's shrine. All three towers had spires until 1549. At this point, high winds blew down the tallest, Central Spire; the two Western Spires were strengthened in 1730 due to leaning, but were later removed in 1807 for safety reasons. Thus stands the cathedral as we know it today - large, imposing and majestic beyond belief. Lincoln Cathedral is a powerful symbol for religion, both locally and nationwide, as well as imposing a huge amount of pride in the local population. Religious services in the cathedral demand high standards all round - language and music (with the cathedral Choir being amongst the most beautiful in the country)- and the cathedral is frequently used as a centre for the arts, with theatre, orchestral, choral and musical groups using the building as a worthy platform for their talents. --------------------------------------------- Visitor attractions. In 2000, the cathedral introduced admission fees for the first time (previously this was done on a voluntary basis). At present, these stand at £3.50, with concessions being £3 and accompanied children free. Guided tours take place daily, with specialist tours being available (pre-booking advised for these). Such specialist tours include a guided tour of the roof and upper structures; pilgrimage tours look at religious significance; technical tours look at various workshops connected with the constant restoration projects. There is access to the cathedral library, sewing room and vestries. A coffee shop and gift shop are available. Don't forget to look for the Lincoln Imp - that famous little stone ch
aracter who "hides" within the internal stonework of the Cathedral. --------------------------------------------- It is almost impossible to talk about Lincoln cathedral without mentioning its significance personally. During a particularly difficult period of my life, I was lucky enough to live in Lincoln, in the shadow of the cathedral. I was perhaps its most frequent visitor, with only the staff putting in more hours! There is something spectacularly serene about the building, both internally and externally. I spent a lot of time sitting in the grounds, where I used to study, or read for pleasure, in the summer sun. However, the most peaceful moments were achieved inside the cathedral, basking in the reflection of the stained glass as the sunlight filtered through. An uncanny sense of serenity envelopes as I do this. I can't explain what it is, whether it is a religious thing or just a sense of inner peace brought about by escaping the hustle and bustle of daily life, but I would thoroughly recommend anyone in the area to give it a try. If there is a more beautiful example of architecture in the country, I have yet to discover it.
From whichever way you approach the City of Lincoln you cannot avoid seeing the towers of Lincoln Cathedral dominating the skyline. A Cathedral has stood on the hill overlooking this area for nearly 1000 years and although many parts have been rebuilt the Cathedral has managed to survive in spite of a fire, an earthquake and gale force winds. Of course as it is at the top of a hill, be prepared for a good walk to get to the Cathedral, but the climb is well worth while. The Cathedral is very impressive and popular with tourists. After entering through the Great West Door you cannot fail to be impressed by the Nave. This enormous area of the Cathedral can seat over 2000 people, but normally the area is kept free of seats so that visitors can appreciate the full glory of this hall. The size of the pillars and the height of the roof make you aware of the enormity of this hall. There are also some very impressive stained glass windows throughout the Cathedral depicting stories from the bible. We visited the Cathedral on a Sunday and from beyond the Nave the area was restricted to people attending services. (The Cloister and Chapter House area). We are planning to re-visit the Cathedral (not on a Sunday) and then I will expand further on this opinion. There are private chapels at the side of the Nave, which anyone can use for private prayer (at any time) and these were very intimate and quiet. Near the exit from the Cathedral is the Minster shop where there are many gifts and souvenirs for sale. Personally I do not like the idea of a shop within a Cathedral, but judging by the popularity of the shop I must be in a minority with this view. There is no admission charge to the Cathedral, but there are a number of donation boxes around the Nave if you wish to make a donation during your visit, but these are not intrusive. It was unfortunate that we could not see the entire Cathedral, but I was p
leased to see that it was being used for regular services and not just an historic monument.