In the past few years, Lincoln has grown from a sleepy midlands town to a thriving place with a popular university that also manages to maintain it’s historical charm…and boy does it have a lot of history!
To familiarise yourself with the historic centre, try a walking tour with @hiddenlincoln My guide Ivan met me outside my hotel at The White Hart and took me on a two hour tour starting with Lincoln as a Roman settlement, through the medieval times right up to modern day. We wandered down streets without a single other person on them, only to come across preserved Roman walls and gates into the city, including the only Roman Gate in the whole country to still have traffic travel through it. Lincoln was a major player in the Roman times, and the city was full of bathhouses, an amphitheatre, markets and garrisons, and it’s possible to see evidence of these all over the city, if only you know where to look.
Ivan was incredibly knowledgable, but tailored his tour to my particular interests, and as we approached the cathedral area, he pointed out numerous ‘secret’ carvings on the building, some done as medieval mischief, and even modern sculptures depicting a caretaker who has been working there for 40 years.
The cathedral is obviously a highlight, and even those not particularly interested in visiting churches will be wowed by the size and grandeur of it. It’s the third largest cathedral in the UK and despite the constant renovations it’s splendid to look at. An earthquake a few hundred years ago means that it’s designed in a few different styles including the more traditional gothic style, but inside it also features more modern artworks inside including paintings from some of the Bloomsbury set.
The chapter house is lovely and during my visit I happened upon an impromptu performance from a fantastic group calling themselves Boston’s oldest boyband, singing ‘Unchained Melody!’
When you’re all cathedralled out, then head to the Bailgate area to take a wander. At the top of the aptly named ‘Steep Hill’, Bailgate and the hill itself are full of boutiques, coffee shops and wine sellers, as well as the odd antique shop thrown in. You could spend quite a while wandering around, highlights include the traditional chocolatiers, as well as the more modern fudge shop, and an amusingly named café called ‘Basecamp’, (which it does feel like when you’re walking back up the hill.) It’s a pretty area with lovely buildings and looks like it’s straight from an old movie set.
Facing the cathedral is Lincoln Castle, a well preserved walled castle with a Victorian Prison housed inside. The prison held both male and female prisoners, as well as very young children and quickly became very over crowded during the Victorian period. An exhibition inside allows you to see how the cells would have looked and learn a little about some of the inmates.
Back outside and you can walk around the castle walls, getting fantastic views of the city and the cathedral towers. It’s a little bit windy up there, but a lovely walk, and it’s accessible to people with disabilities now too after recent refurbishments.
Outside of the town but within easy reach is the International Bomber Command Centre. The memorial itself is a 31 metre high sculpture surrounded by a Wall of Names, featuring the identities of those from Bomber Command and ground crew who lost their lives preserving the freedoms we have today. It’s a peaceful area with views through the memorial towards the cathedral. Inside the main building as well as a café is the indoor exhibition area, an interactive space including stories from the home guard and even a moving map showing bombing in Europe between 1939-1945. It’s a moving place and a very popular site to visit since it’s opening in March 2018. Even for younger members of the family, it’s an interesting place to visit and a great place for them to learn through interactive activities, and for those a bit older, its a wonderful place to pay your respects.
Only a couple of hours by train from London, Lincoln is a lovely weekend away and full of varied options. It’s a great spot for history lovers, a top place for foodies, and with it’s range of trendy bars and cute boutique hotels it’s a great choice for a romantic trip.