Lincoln’s Cathedral is a beacon for miles and miles as it towers over the fenland. In fact my sister in law, Anne, tells me on a good day they can see it from the Peak District Moors, over 60 miles away. And as it offered a tower tour, well I just had to go climb those towers and learn it’s history and see the view.Back in the day when the Romans came to stay, they fortified Lincoln with a city wall. Although it was to later get in the way of one of the cathedrals many extension.Then the Vikings also took advantage of the river access and the deep water of Brayford Pool. As did these folk as shown in a painting hanging in one of the chapels.However it wasn’t until William the Conqueor wanted to stake his claim, and show his Norman dominance on the marauding hordes of northerners, that the catherdral and castle were built out of local stone. It was a hugely significant seat of power and in 1215 the Magna Carter was brought here to be signed by the Bishops. Lincoln still holds one of the only 4 remaining originals in its library.
The Cathedral’s life hasn’t always been an easy one, 50 years after it was built it burnt down. It was rebuilt but in 1185 it was destroyed by an earthquake. Rebuilding wasn’t always well planned, the person responsible didn’t align the east and the West correctly so the spine along the beautiful vaulted ceiling is wonky and doesn’t meet up as it should.The tower tour takes you right up into the rafters so you can look down onto the lime mortar on the upper side of the vaulted ceiling. You don’t always realise when you look up that there’s another 30 feet of cathedral above what you see.
In 1311 a spire was added to the central tower, reaching 160m, taller than the Pyramids of Gaza. It became the tallest building in the world for over 200 years but being a wooden structure encased in lead, it was a bit heavy and in 1548 it blew down in a storm. In 1807 the north and south tower spires were removed much to the consternation of the people of Lincoln but Health and Safety was being adhered to by then.Health and safety also decreed that although we were allowed in the bell tower, the ropes had to be out of reach. The bells rest in an upright position so that the the first chime is correctly timed. Obviously there’s a huge amount that I haven’t recounted, condensing 1000 years of history into 10 minutes leaves a lot of gaps for rebellions, civil war But I recommend paying the extra to do the tour. Stained glass is always a beautiful thing to see in a cathedral, this one is known as the Bishops Eyeand the rose window opposite is the Deans EyeThis one facing West shows Revious, the monk William the conqueor put in charge of building the cathedral originally. It still contains some medieval glass, when It was a real honour to be able to walk right in front of it on the tower tour. There is so much to see and most of it hundreds of years old, but there are some new pieces of art work on display. I particularly liked the giant swan. St Hugh of Avalon was one of the early bishops and he befriended this fearsome bird, which terrorised the people whenever St Hugh was away, but behaved like an angel whenever he was in residence.