Friday, 10 February 2017


Lincoln Castle: The East Gate

An opportunity to extend my list of cities walked in courtesy of out friends Roger and Deborah. WE start our walk outside the East Gate of the castle. In 1068, the Normans constructed a motte and bailey castle here, re-using the remaining stone walls of the later Roman city, Lindum Colonia. The castle walls were built in stone in the late 11th century, replacing the temporary wooden palisade. The Castle was besieged for the final time in 1644, during the English Civil War, when the Royalists holding it were overwhelmed by a stronger Parliamentarian force.

The area inside the walls is suprisingly large and contains a variety of buildings of which the most surprising is a Victorian Gaol. A gaol was first built in 1788 to hold both felons and debtors. 
In 1848, a national prison building scheme saw the demolition of the felons' wing and the construction of a new Victorian prison wing. This became a 'holding' centre for short term male, female and child prisoners awaiting trial at the courthouse, and convicts pending removal elsewhere to serve their sentence. The debtors continued to be held in the Georgian gaol building.

The Victorian prison was designed to implement the 'separate system' - a regime intended to keep prisoners separate from the corrupting influence of their fellow inmates, and bring about their moral reform. Separate cells were provided with a sink, toilet and hammock so that there was no need for prisoners to leave them except for exercise and fresh air in the airing yards, and the daily chapel service led by the prison's chaplain, the Reverend Henry Richter. The separate system was never fully implemented however due to overcrowding, a fever which swept through the prison and, ultimately, the reluctance of the magistrates. By 1878, expensive running costs and declining prisoner numbers led to the prison's closure just 30 years after it had opened.

The separation system extended to the chapel in a shocking way. One of these figures is not a mannequin.

We returned from the fascinating tour of the gaol to climb up to the top of walls and do a circuit. There was a fine view of the Cathedral, of which more later.

At the far end of the enceinte was the Court House. It was built in 1826 for the Lincolnshire Assizes and is still in use as Lincoln Crown Court.

Looking outside the walls as we went further round we saw this massive the imposing Westgate water tower.  The 120-feet-tall building was commissioned as a result of a Typhoid epidemic caused by contaminate drinking water which swept over the city between November 1904 and April 1905. 1006 people contracted the disease and 113 people died.

Having completed the excellent circuit of the walls we left the castle and headed across to the Cathedral which stands opposite across a small square. and through a gateway. Work started on the Cathedral in 1072 and it was consecrated in 1092. Unfortunately, after a fire in 1124 and an earthquake (!) in 1185, leaving only the West Front untouched. It is truly magnificent.

The remainder of the Cathedral was rebuilt in the gothic style from 1192.

The Chapter House of 1220 onwards is also particularly fine, with its elborately ribbed roof.

We returned to the nave and then went to the choir to search for the famous Lincoln Imp. The 14th century story has it that two imps were sent by Satan to earth to do mischief. An angel came out of a book of hymns and told them to stop, one of the imps was brave and started throwing rocks at the angel, but the other imp cowered under the broken tables and chairs. The angel turned the first imp to stone, giving the second imp a chance to escape. It is said that even on still days it is always windy around the cathedral, which is the second imp circling the building looking for his friend. The imp can be seen directly above the head of a man at the top of this column.

When we had completed our tour of the Cathedral we headed down Steep Hill to pass the Jew's House on the left and the Jew's Court on the right, two of the oldest houses in the city.

At the bottom, we passed through the Stonebow gate with the Guildhall on the right (viewed looking back from the other side).

Further along on the right there was a splendid art deco shop front.

We reached the point where the street crosses the River Witham. Off to the left was an impressive modern statue.

To the right was this large building (viewed from the river bank behind it) - one of the few remaining instances of a bridge with a building on it.

We headed right past the large Brayford Pool  and waterfront area and, as time was running out, we headed back along Mint Street to retrace our steps to where we had parked the car near the castle. In Mint St (I think) we stumbled on this fantastic art nouveau shop facade. I couldn't believe my luck.

Conditions: bright at first becoming greyer and eventually raining.

Distance: two or three miles.

Rating: five stars.

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