Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Lincoln Cathedral (Lincoln)

The Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lincoln is one of the most magnificent in England.

Standing at the top of a steep hill, its three towers can be seen for many miles around, being an unmissable landmark in the largely flat Lincolnshire landscape.

John Ruskin reckoned it to be the finest building in Europe, while Alec Clifton Taylor said it was the finest English cathedral.

The see was founded at Stowe in 678 and, together with that of Leicester, moved to Dorchester-on-Thames in 958, before settling on Lincoln in 1073, shortly after the Norman Conquest.

It was Bishop Remigius who founded Lincoln Cathedral, and the three great arches in the magnificent West front are part of this early work.

After a fire in 1141, Bishop Alexander the Magnificent, a great landowner who owned Newark Castle, made additions to the surviving work.

The cathedral was severely damaged by an earthquakle in 1185, and again largely rebuilt by the much loved Bishop Hugh of Avalon, who was canonised soon after his death in 1220. Hugh himself worked as a labourer on the task. When he died, his body was carried by King John and his nobles to the cathedral door, where three archbishops and thirteen bishops received it.

Bishop Robert Grosseteste, formerly Rector at St. Margarets Church in Leicester, was not only a great theologian, but also another active builder.

The central tower is at 271 feet the highest mediaeval cathedral tower in England.

One of the chief glories of Lincoln Cathedral is the Angel Choir, whose name derives from the sculpted angels between the triforium arches. Legend claims that it was built with the personal help of angels.

The Angel Choir is also the home of perhaps the cathedral's most famous inhabitant, the Lincoln Imp, who can be found amongst the carving.

The Angel Choir was completed in 1280, in time for the remains of St. Hugh to be translated to his new shrine behind the high altar, in the presence of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile.

The nave contains a famous 12th century font made of black Tournai marble.

Lincoln has two outstanding rose windows, known as the Dean's Eye and the Bishop's Eye.

The North wall of the cloister was built in 1674 by Sir Christopher Wren. Lincoln is the only cathedral outside London on which this prolific architect worked.

There is a memorial to Katherine Swinford, third wife of John of Gaunt, and the shrine of "Little St. Hugh", subject of the shameful story that Lincoln's Jews were in the habit of sacrificing Christian children. The real St. Hugh would have been horrified to know that his name was used for such a disgusting purpose.

Outside, there is a memorial to Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Edward I held several Parliaments in the cathedral, and Bishop John of Dalderby officiated at the Knights Templar trial in 1310.

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