An October 2004 trip
to Lincoln by MichaelJM
Quote: I've spent many years in this city - I was born there! As a child, I enjoyed the open parks, and as a teenager, I tolerated it. As an adult, I love it. This is an easy walk around my hometown.
Climb the aptly named Steep Hill, and on route, make a detour to see the Usher Art Gallery or stop off at one of the many coffee houses. You’ll certainly need a break at some point because "The Hill" will stretch all those ligaments and exercise any dormant muscles (far better than a visit to the gym!).
Consider a trip to the recently restored Arboretum. It is one of three remaining Victorian parks in England, and on a good day, you’ll enjoy the stroll. Each month will bring its different pleasure, but I personally enjoy the trees with their autumnal hue. Check out the Victorian fountains, the pink bandstand, and the Lion statue. Just down the road from the Arboretum are the remains of the old monastery (not remarkable but local legend suggested that there were passageways linking the abbey to the cathedral. Have a look and decide for yourself!)
Lincoln hosts several museums, including the Toy Museum near the castle, the City Archaeological Museum, and the uphill museum of Lincolnshire Life.
While you're here, visit some of the old original pubs - you'll find them without too much trouble (the Old Still near the Stonebow, The Green Dragon on Broadgate, and the Adam & Eve on Lindum Hill were favourites of mine).
The Bishops Palace is well worth the visit - it's not signposted well, but it's up near the cathedral.
St. Swithin’s church is a fine high church near to Broadgate, and just up from here, have a look at a fort-like building (this is the old Drill Hall, built around 1890 to provide a training centre in police and military drill.) Today, it is described as "a vibrant centre for arts and community activity in the cultural life of the city."
Finally, if you can make Lincoln in December, keep an eye open for the dates of the Lincoln Christmas Market. It will be rammed with stalls and visitors, and the atmosphere is just unbelievable
One of the best views of the cathedral is to be found on the pedestrian bridge over Broadgate (walk down Waterside South from the High Street--you'll see it)
Buses do operate, but generally it’s as quick and far more enjoyable to walk the streets.
If the long haul from the lower city to the Cathedral Quarter puts you off, take a taxi, they do exist but not in large numbers. If you head for the railway station, you’ll be sure to find a waiting cab.
If you really fancy it, take a river cruise from the Brayford pool. I can’t pretend that its a particularly scenic ride. but it is relaxing and you will see some tantilising views of the cathedral.
Heading east from the Pool, I reach the High Street. Lower Lincoln isn’t renowned for its high-class shops, but a short walk through the city centre will take me past some interesting buildings. Furthest south, near the train station, is St Mary Le Wigford. This church was originally erected soon after the Norman Conquest and dates back to 1563. As you walk north up the High Street, keep your eyes above shop-front level, as there are several original facades to be seen. The present TSB Bank has an interesting engraving above its door, and next door is the war memorial and St. Benedict’s Church.
Take a detour off the High Street and explore Lincoln’s market. This is housed in the Victorian Corn Exchange Building of 1879 (an impressive utilitarian building of its day). If you fancy the local fish and chips, I would heartily recommend The Sign of The Fish. No airs and graces here, but good quality food served with bread and butter and a hot mug of tea.
You’ll now be approaching the river, and I’d recommend that you cross the small hump back bridge before turning left, back to the High Street. What a view of Lincoln’s historic buildings! Due north, you’ll see the spire of St Swithin’s, and to the east, The Witch and the Wardrobe (this was a chip shop in my day!) and the Green Dragon Pub. To the west, the river will be full of swans (popular folklore says that if the swans ever leave Lincoln, the cathedral will disappear into its own foundations), and you will see the huge, modern "Empowerment" statue, reaching out across the river, and the black-and-white building of the High Bridge Café. This sophisticated Café was formed in 1902 and has been the purveyor of fine coffee ever since. To the left of the café is a very narrow, steeply stair-cased alleyway. This leads to the historic Glory Hole, said to be the oldest bridge in the country with buildings still standing on it.
Back to the High Street and head north, and you’ll see the Stonebow. This was built at the southern gateway to the Roman town and was completed in 1520. The Mote Bell, dated 1371 (the oldest in Britain), is still rung to announce council meetings. Note the outward-leaning two towers. In this building, you’ll find the Mayor’s Parlour, the city’s Civic Insignia, and what was until 1809 the city prison, described as "a loathsome place, the worst in the Kingdom".
Now try Steep Hill!
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 24, 2004
Walking the Lower Town
Attraction | "A visit to the Cathedral"
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 26, 2004
The Deanery 12 Eastgate
Lincoln, England LN2 1PX
+44 (1522) 544-544
Keep walking to the right, and you’ll begin to see the interesting shops of Lincoln. You’ll pass a plethora of antique shops (and if these give you an appetite, I’d recommend that you reserve a day to visit the antique centre at nearby Hemswell). You’re walking on the cobbled road at the bottom of Steep Hill, and you will soon understand how it got its name and be wishing that you’d worn some sensible shoes!). The houses now have some real age to them, and I’d particularly point out the Jew’s House on your left, and next door to it, the old Jewish Synagogue. These houses were built in the 12th century, when the Normans were encouraging Jews to settle in Lincoln to help finance the further development of this prosperous city. The Jew’s House, which has an extremely fine decorated Norman arch, is believed to be England’s oldest domestic residence. And you can grab a decent cup of coffee here.
Before tackling the walk to the top, I’d recommend that you make a detour to The Usher Art Gallery. The Usher Gallery was opened in 1927 by the Prince of Wales and made possible by James Ward Usher, a successful entrepreneur and collector of decorative art. Usher once had a local jewellery- and watch-making business and was honoured with the position of Sheriff of Lincoln in 1916. When he died at the age of 76, he bequeathed his amazingly large collection of artworks to the City of Lincoln. This included impressive freestanding clocks and ornate watches, porcelain, silver, enamels, miniatures, and coins, and remains the core of the gallery's collection. The collection has grown substantially and now includes a range of artwork, from neoclassical sculpture to contemporary portraits and craftwork. There is a superb collection of portraits, photographs, and personal items associated with Tennyson, including his distinctive cloak, hat, and walking sticks, and even a drawing of the Tennyson family home by the poet Edward Lear.
The walk up Steep Hill will burn off a few calories, and you may need to hang on to the handrail and make an excuse to visit the numerous quality shops that you’ll see en route. Examine the Black and White building at the corner of Michaelgate (one to photograph, I reckon). You may need a rest here after your climb, and the nearby old antique book shop will beckon you indoors. I love this shop.
Now is the final leg of your walk up to Castle Square.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 27, 2004
Lincoln Cathedral to Well Lane
Attraction | "Viewing the Ancient Castle"
As you enter through the Eastern gate, you will observe a finely carved stone window set into the entrance – don’t be fooled, this is not an original feature but was rescued from a downtown house and placed here for posterity. This gate was originally a plain Norman arch built into a rectangular recess in the wall, but later, fortification was built into the gatehouse and the two round turrets. You’ll immediately see the Crown Court building in the impressive ivy clad 1820s building that faces you as you enter the extensive, six-acre grounds of the Castle.
For some reason, I always prefer to walk clockwise around the castle grounds and start by climbing the square tower. The top of the tower was added in the 1800s and is the highest part of the castle, providing some stupendous views of the cathedral and the surrounding countryside. Indeed, a walk around the castle walls will not be too taxing and will give you magnificent views of the castle grounds and below.
A 15-sided medieval shell keep is built on the larger of the Castle’s two mottes. Affectionately known as "The Lucy Tower," it is a massive structure, and you’ll need plenty of energy to get to the top. The climb is worth it because inside, you’ll see the crudely marked headstones of Victorian convicts. The silence up here can be awesome, and it is clear that these felons were unceremoniously buried here after their period of incarceration was concluded by death.
Now retrace your steps and visit the prison. This is an absolutely fascinating tour, as you will feel how it was for prisoners in the 1700s. As you enter the prison chapel, you can try out one of the lockable cubicles, built in such a way that the preacher could see everyone but the inmates could not see each other. If you’re claustrophobic, perhaps you need to give it a miss!
In the prison building, you will see the original 790-year-old Magna Carta document. This IS history! There’s a good exhibition putting the document into context – take time to examine this fascinating read.
The 13th-century Cobb Hall, at the northeast corner, served as a castle prison for many centuries. Closely examine the ancient graffiti, and when you’re at the top, remember that you’re on the site of the county gallows, which were used for almost a century, up until 1868, for public hangings. Also on the grounds, make sure you check out the early-1800s Bath House, the well, and the King George III Statue.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 28, 2004
44 (0)1522 511068