UK Tour: Lincoln

12/8/12: Lincoln Cathedral
(Located in Lincoln, Lincolnshire)

"I have always held and am prepared against all evidence to maintain 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" -John Ruskin, Victorian art patron, social thinker and philanthropist.


Founded in 1072, Lincoln Cathedral was consecrated in 1092 only to succumb to fire and an earthquake in 1185. As a result, the west end (seen in the first picture below) is the oldest with the east end being rebuilt in the 1200s. The nave and main transepts were completed by 1240. With the death of St. Hugh, the Bishop of Lincoln who oversaw rebuilding efforts, the eastern "chevet" end was pulled down in favor a larger expanse to house his tomb/ shrine. This section is now called the Angel Choir and is noted for its design and stone work.
In 1311, the central tower was raised. In 1420, the same was done to the western towers. At this point, Lincoln became the tallest man-made structure on earth, surpassing the Pyramids of Giza. Even fortified with lead, the central wooden spire only lasted until 1549 when it was blown down in a storm. The other spires were removed in 1807 which gives the cathedral the outline that it still carries today.

The broad west facade. Despite being cloaked in early english gothic, it is the last remaining section of the Norman church.
 
 The left Norman arch surmounted by later gothic additions.

The center of the western facade.

Carved and layered arches, tell-tale signs of Norman design.

The east end which now contains the Angel Choir. The Fleming Chantry is barely visible protruding from the right side.  The chapter house, where official church matters were tended to, lies off picture to the right.

A view from the south. To the left internally lies the Little Transept. The small chantries at the bottom on both sides of the entrance are built in the perpendicular style (1500s). As a whole, the cathedral is a combination of early english (1186), late early english (1235) and decorated (1260) design.
 
 
 
 As with most largescale religious institutions, Lincoln included a cloister range which connected the church proper to the chapter house and other administrative buildings. The Wren Library is now housed above one section of the north cloister.

The Galilee Porch, built circa 1250 as part of the rebuilding effort.

The impressive nave looking towards the Norman west end.

The crossing upon which the central spire was mounted.

Looking towards the nave from the choir. The organ screen and choir stalls are hand carved.

A view of the Angel Choir.

The great east window.

The north aisle along the choir.
 
 
Now some design features...
 
The choir screen separates the organ and choir from the crossing. It was built in the mid 13th century.
 
A close-up of the screen shows that it was once very colorfully painted. It is a common misconception that abbey/ cathedral interiors were just bland stone facings. This is an effect of time and wear rather than asthetic purpose. Color and vibrancy were very important. Oftentimes walls were whitewashed or plastered. Details were then colored in or picked out with gilding.
 
The Lincoln Imp! Medieval legend states that two imps were sent by Satan to ravage England. After causing mischief within the cathedral, an Angel appeared in the Angel Choir (where else?) and commanded them to cease. One imp, on a column high above, threw stones at the heavenly being. The angel then turned the imp to stone and he remains there to this day. Apparently no one cared about the other one...
 
 Now for some tombs...
An in-floor tomb well worn by the passage of time and feet. The etched brass detailing was removed long ago but the outline of the figure is still visible.


This is a nice example of a cadaver tomb. As usual, the tomb is topped with a "life-like" effigy of the interned. Directly underneat lies the same person but only as a wasted corpse. Most likely it meant to show that earthly glory is fleeting. It may also indicate belief in the resurrection.

A well worn tomb with the effigy mostly destroyed.

A refurbished tomb...and an important one at that! This tomb contains the viscera of Queen Eleanor of Castile who died near Lincoln in 1290. Married to King Edward I, they formed one of England's few monarchical love matches. The king was devastated by the loss of his Queen and as a result built the Eleanor Crosses: one at each point where her body rested overnight en route to Westminster. There were 12 in all (only three originals survive). Charing Cross in London gets its name from this. (A Victorian replica of the Eleanor cross stands outside Charing Cross train station).

The tombs of Katherine Swynford (right) and her daughter Joan Beaufort (left). Katherine married John of Gaunt, a son of King Edward III and "founder" of the Lancastrian faction. She is thus the matriarch of the Beaufort family, staunch Lancastrians in the form of the Dukes and Earls of Somerset who fought in the Wars of the Roses. Margaret Beaufort is the great granddaughter of Katherine. Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty, is Margaret's son and thus his claim to the throne is traced through her back to Katherine Swynford. Whew! Got that?
 
Joan Beufort was married into the Neville family who were mostly Yorkists. The web spreads from there to the Staffords, Hastings and even Richard III.
 
 The tomb/ shrine of St. Hugh.
Hugh of Lincoln was brought to England by Henry II as part of the latter's efforts to atone for his role in the murder of St. Becket. Hugh was responsible for the early rebuilding work at the cathedral after the 1185 earthquake. After his death in 1200, the east end was enlarged to form the Angel Choir so that his shrine could be built. With Hugh being the second most well known saint in England after Becket, the church was quick to accommodate pilgrims.
 
With the reformation in England, the tombs of saints were broken and defiled and the bones scattered. This happened to Becket but I do not know if it happend to Hugh. Given the lack of statues in the alcoves of his tomb, I'm guessing some form of desecration occured? More research is necessary here.

Roman mosaic work found in the church yard. History stacked on top of history!
 
Lastly, Lincoln in the sunset...
 



And at night...

 Lincoln Cathedral is currently undergoing restoration work on the roof. As a result, debris and broken material is removed and thrown away. Some places have gotten smart about this. Afterall, one person's junk is another's treasure right? Conservators gathered hundreds of medieval nails removed from the wooden beams. Rather than toss them, they sell them for 3 pounds a piece! Buy yourself a piece of history and help save history at the same time. I plan to use these as part of a hands-on experience for my future students. The nails date from the 12th and 13th centuries.
 
Below them is a replica of a bodkin arrowhead. This was a common style of arrowhead used by the English during the Hundred Years War and the Wars of the Roses. It's design meant it was used to pierce armor and mail. Current reassessments of the arrow's capabilities suggests it wasn't as lethal as originally thought. Still, lightly armored men at arms would've suffered terribly under an arrow storm comprised of these.
 
This is not the last time we visit Lincoln. A seperate entry on another structure will appear soon!
 
12/8/12: Medieval Bishop's Palace
(Located in Lincoln, Lincolnshire)

The palace was first built in the late 12th century to serve as the official residence of the bishop. The diocese of Lincoln was quite large and required an appropriately grand house to showcase its power and control. The outline seen today is due to the work of Lincoln's greatest bishop, St. Hugh who expanded the structures in the 1290s. Bishop Alnwick completed the palace with additional improvements in the 1430s. That said, this palace is similar to other bishop houses in that it maintained two great halls (one private, one public) as well as an audience chamber and chapel. It is also in close proximity to the church which, in this case, is Lincoln Cathedral just north of the walls.
For more information on Saint Hugh, see my UK Tour visit to Lincoln Cathedral.

An overhead shot of the ruins of Bishop's Palace (courtesy of Google Maps).
Visitors would enter through the porch (1) via the outer court (0). This brings them into the 13th century west hall (2). Connected to this would be the pantry and buttery with the great chamber one floor above (3). The kitchen was detached from the complex to prevent any fire from spreading to the rest of the palace (4). The inner court was an open area (5). The gatehouse is known as Alnwick's Gatehouse, after the bishop who built it in the 1400s (6). A passageway (7) lead from the inner court to the audience chamber and apartments (8). Connected to this was the east hall (9) with the bishop's private accomodation at the rear (11). Another courtyard lies just off the east (10).

A view of the palace in its completed glory. (Photo taken from an English Heritage plaque. No offense intended EH. Please don't hurt me, I'm a member)

Alnwick's 15th century gatehouse with a very nice oriel window. The octagonal portrusion on the right is most likely a staircase.
A ruined section that connects the gatehouse to the 13th century west hall.

This bay window, attached to the hall, is also part of the 15th century upgrades.
The Bishop's Palace hosted the Medieval Christmas Market on the day of my visit!

View from the outer court looking at the west hall. The great chamber is at the top floor of the refurbished building in the background.

Details of the entrance porch. Some of the black purbeck marble columns are still in-situ.

The elaborate work on the porch was meant to impress visitors and signify the wealth and power of the bishop.

Entrance to the buttery, pantry and the kitchens (which lie a bit further back). The three original doorways were blocked up in 1886.
The east hall was built in the 1190s by Bishop St. Hugh. The top floor and rooms beyond served as his private quarters whereas the area below was used as a working space for his servants and household staff. When the hall became outdated in the 1400s, Bishop Alnwick made the top floor his private dining room and the floor below his cellar.
Looking down the top floor of the east hall from the same spot as the picture above.

And... the hall boundary without the tent blocking. The area to the left was a courtyard. In the background stood the lodgings of Bishop St. Hugh which connected to the east hall.

One of the window bays where monks could meditate (see the drawing above).

A window looking out into the courtyard. The audience chamber is off-picture on the left.

This doorway leads down into the audience chamber which contained a large fireplace and garderobe. Above the chamber were additional 15th century apartments.


Reused stone.

A medieval drain from the east hall.

The palace well located near the ruined kitchens.

The cellar under the east hall. It would have been less decorated than the floor above to reflect its utilitarian use by servants and staff.


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