We seem to have lost the lovely weather we were having last week, so yesterday we decided to visit Lincoln. Lincoln has a varied and interesting history, dating back to the Romans, who arrived in 48AD, and built a wooden fort there. Once the area had been subdued, the soldiers moved on, and a walled town called Lindum Colonia for retired Roman soldiers was developed. The streets were laid out in a grid, and there was a Forum (market place), a Basilica (town hall), shops and public baths. The Romans left in 407AD, and the town was virtually abandoned. In the 9th and 10th Century the fortunes of the town revived, and Lincoln became a large and important town, with potteries, jewellers, and even its own mint. In 1068, after the Battle of Hastings (1066), William the Conqueror built a wooden castle, (which was later replaced with stone) and by 1086, and the Doomsday book, Lincoln had a population of around 6000. The Cathedral was completed in 1092, and over the years has been rebuilt a number of times due to earthquake, fire and collapse! Lincoln’s prosperity in the middle ages rose and fell with the demand for wool and the wool trade. During the English Civil War (1642-1651), battles raged in the streets of Lincoln, which changed hands several times, and was occupied by both Royalists and Parliamentarians in turn. For the next few hundred years, Lincoln remained a small and quiet market town, but by the mid 19th century, communications had improved, and Lincoln was becoming a thriving industrial centre, with iron foundries, breweries, heavy engineering, and brick building. By 1900 the population had increased to about 50,000, and there was a library, college of art, theatre, and Lincoln had its own football team! Now Lincoln has a university, museums, shopping centres, a population of about 88,000, and a thriving tourist industry.
We had a really good tour of the Castle, the guide Joan, really knew her stuff, and even enthralled my nephew Jacob, who we thought would get thoroughly bored. The castle has been used as a prison and a court for more than 900 years, and Lincoln Crown Court is still within the grounds of the castle. The earliest record of prisoners being held at the castle is from 1199, and from 1608 to 1878 the castle was used mainly as a prison and a court-house, and also a place of execution. About 20,000 people turned up to see the last public execution in 1859, and the final execution took place in 1877. There are dungeons, towers and partly accessible castle walls with magnificent views. There is a Georgian Prison for debtors and felons, but the Victorian Prison Building is a very peculiar, eerie place, where prisoners were kept completely separate, even in the Prison Chapel, where they were locked into cubicles where they could not see anyone else except the priest. One of the highlights for me was seeing one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, a charter drawn up in 1215AD, between the Pope, King John and his English Barons, limiting the power of the King.
I was amazed at the sheer size and magnificence of the Cathedral. (This photo is taken from the castle walls.) For almost 250 years, until the central spire collapsed in 1549, it was considered to be the tallest building in the world – although the exact height is a subject of debate! The Cathedral is the 3rd largest in England, and is the largest building in Lincolnshire.
We had a fabulous day out in Lincoln, but unfortunately didn’t have enough time to go inside the Cathedral. Hopefully we will be able to do that next time I’m on holiday in Lincolnshire.