Things to do in Lincoln, England

Although my trip was now a month ago, I am still keen to share my day in Lincoln with you.  I was visiting Sheffield to see family (my brother and nephew) and we took the day to pop across to Lincoln by train to visit my other nephew.  It was lovely to spend time with the family and catch up.  Lincoln is a beautiful city (at least as a tourist) and I was excited to be returning (it had been a few years since I’d last visited – the boys were still in school – now one will celebrate his 30th birthday later this year (how time flies).

Anyway, this is not about a family reunion, but about the city of Lincoln.  Lincoln is a medieval city in central England (Lincolnshire to be exact) and its cathedral and castle tower over the city.  To reach them you need to climb the aptly named “Steep Hill”.  As with many of the other visitors to the city on that day, we took our time and stopped part way up the hill to catch our breath.  It was also nice to look back at our achievement – had we really climbed that much already.  I love old towns and cities with their old buildings and narrow, sometimes cobbled streets.  I’m glad I was  appropriately dressed with trainers – those cobbles would have been a nightmare in heels. 

We didn’t spend much time visiting the actual attractions, so this post will really be an overview of the city and I look forward to returning in the future and doing each of the buildings and sites proper justice.  For the most part, this journey will explore the Cathedral, the Castle and the Victorian Prison which is housed within the Castle, the Bishops Palace and a couple of our refreshment stops.

Old Town District

As with most old towns and cities I’ve visited, the castle and cathedral are built in a prominent position on top of a hill looking down over the rest of the town and the river (I suspect that the canal wasn’t there at that time) now it serves as a focal point when you arrive in the city – your eye is drawn to them – but in past times their positioning would have been a defensive one, so they can see any advancing enemy armies.  We should remember we are in the county of the red rose from the War of the Roses between the House of Lancaster and the House of York.

As mentioned in the introduction, the road leading up from what is now the town centre (which also has a few curiosities for further exploration) we go through the arches of The Guildhall and up Steep Hill. Steep Hill is apparently the 4th steepest Street in England.  We can tell we are in the Tourist zone because of the nature of the shops and cafes along the length of Steep Hill – we did stop off at an old fashioned sweet shop – I resisted temptation but my brother did treat himself.  It was like stepping back in time; very nostalgic seeing all these sweet treats from my childhood, it would be so easy to get carried away.

The Cathedral

Once we got to the top of the hill and after a short rest to catch our breath (and my brother was caught by some Jehovah’s Witnesses) we headed to the Cathedral – we had to go through the Exchequer Gate to enter the Cathedral Courtyard and the associated collegiate houses.

The Exchequer Gate

We didn’t spend too much time inside the cathedral as there was a service being held, but that gives me a reason to make a return visit. The building of the original cathedral started in 1071 but was partially destroyed by an Earthquake in 1184 – this fact surprises me as here in the UK we don’t experience earthquakes that cause such damage.

If you explore the cathedral you should take time to see the Lincoln Imp who, legend has it, was turned to stone by an angel for mischievousness.

Another item to view is Lincoln’s copy of the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta “is one of the most important documents in history as it established the principle that everyone is subject to the law, even the king, and guarantees the rights of individuals, the right to justice and the right to a fair trial.” (Eleftheriou-Smith, 2015)

The Castle

There seemed to be an entry charge on the day we visited because there was some sort of picnic event taking place with families running around everywhere. It didn’t sit well with us, even though it was only £3, to pay for the privilege to go and buy food at stalls set up on the castle green. Lincoln Castle is just a few steps away from the Cathedral, across the square. As well as seeing the castle itself, the castle grounds hosts the old Victorian Lincoln Jail (below) and the current Crown Court. Its good to see that in the 21st Century, we’re still making use of the mediveal heart of the city.

The Victorian Jail
The stone, castle style building is the Crown Court.
The small building we can just see with the little windows is convservation offices
I’ve no idea what this hut is, but sitting on a hill inside the castle walls, it appealled to my sense of humour

The Bishops’ Palace

A visit to the Cathedral isn’t going to be complete without also visiting the Bishops’ Palace. Despite the extensive renovation works you can see in the photograph below, the Palace is still being used as the Offices for the current Bishop of Lincoln. Regrettably, however, we were unable to visit the Palace or its gardens. We had to “make do” with the little bit of garden there was beside the car park and peeking over the construction/renovation screenings. I was disappointed, but I was still determined to continue enjoying my day. I guess this is one of the drawbacks of visiting historic monuments – our heritage does need to be looked after and protected

The rennovation (and possibly excavation) works at the Bishops’ Palace

Outside of the Castle

We left the Castle from a modern drawbridge on the other side of the Castle which took us back into the city of Lincoln at Union Road. We crossed into a modern shopping/restaurant complex (The Lawn) where we found a hidden gem of a park (The John Dawber Garden). There were some Sino/Japanese influences in the garden and the beautiful sculpture I’ve shared below. It was a lovely, peaceful escape from the busyness of the tourists around the cathedral and castle (especially with the public picnic taking place).

Ice Cream

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

The perfect way to finish off the day is to treat ourselves to ice cream. I think I must have been tired by this stage. The ice cream was delicious and the flavours were a real treat, but I didn’t take any photos to share – I will do better next time so you can enjoy my ice cream virtually with me. If you’re in Lincoln for a visit, I can certainly recommend a visit to Kaspa’s Lincoln – I believe they have restaurants elsewhere and I’m looking forward to the day they open one in Glasgow.

After the ice cream bowls were empty and we were full, it was time to head back to the station and head back to Sheffield for the remainder of my week. It was a busy, fun filled day in Lincoln, and lovely to spend the time with my brother and nephew.

References

Eleftheriou-Smith, Loulla-Mae; 2015; Magna Carta: What is it – and why is it still important today?, The Independent, 2nd February, 2015, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/magna-carta-what-is-it-and-why-is-it-still-important-today-10017258.html; last accessed 16/9/22

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