Last weekend, Lucy and I were lucky enough to be invited to the historic city of Lincoln by the local tourist board and LNER. I’ve never been to Lincoln before and had very few expectations beyond something about a possible cathedral and a vague notion that it would be quite flat. Here are some big things we discovered that I didn’t expect at all.
The journey is only 2 hours by train from Kings Cross.
My UK geography is terrible and, particularly as I currently sell rail holidays around Europe, I should really have had more of an idea where in the UK Lincoln was and how long it would take to get there. I thought the city was probably somewhere north of Watford, so when I actually found out that it was north of Watford, but also north of Birmingham, I was amazed that the journey was so short! Who knew?
The Cathedral is one of the largest in Europe – and was likely to have been the tallest building in the world for over 200 years.
Victorian art critic and writer John Ruskin wrote, “I have always held … that the cathedral of Lincoln is out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles and roughly speaking worth any two other cathedrals we have.”
Lincoln Cathedral is monumental. It’s the fourth largest in the country and has stood for almost 1,000 years. Officially speaking, it’s £9 (at time of writing) for admission but this isn’t entirely clear when you go in. However, you do need to pay the admission if you want to take a tour. There are cathedral tours – and rooftop tours, which sounded amazing. Sadly, we couldn’t go on one of these as they were fully booked. You can pre-book online so it’s definitely best to do this if you want to take in the views.
Lincoln has a castle which dates back to Roman times.
I had no idea that Lincoln had a castle. Not just a castle, but one with medieval walls that you can walk along and a former Victorian prison in the grounds. The prison is home to one of the only remaining prison chapels of the period, where male prisoners were locked in separate small cells so that they couldn’t see or speak to each other and would only have a view of the chaplain in his pulpit. It’s important to be aware that there are dummies in some of the cells. Finding this out when you’re in the midst of exploring can be slightly terrifying.
The city has a copy of the Magna Carta
Another feature of Lincoln Castle is that it’s home to one of only four extant copies of the 1215 Magna Carta, which was signed by Hugh of Wells, the Bishop of Lincoln. Alongside the Magna Carta is the 1217 Charter of the Forest, another fabulously old document – this is the only place in the world where you can see both together. There’s a cinema beneath the gallery where you can watch a film about the history of both documents – but we were on the clock and didn’t have time for this!
It’s not flat. There’s a pretty steep hill up to the Cathedral Quarter – called Steep Hill.
I was completely wrong on this one. From the station, the terrain heads gently uphill and then takes a more drastic turn up a famous cobbled street which was created in Roman times but originally had stairs. It wasn’t a great challenge for seasoned walkers like Lucy and myself – but there was a handy bench at the top, and a well-placed coffee shop called ‘The Summit’. Climbing up here also offers the reward of the castle, the cathedral and lots of boutique shops and cafes.
Walks from Lincoln.
Visit Lincoln has a handy page of Walking Trails