Day 2. Exploring Lincoln

After starting the day with a delicious cooked breakfast at The White Hart Hotel we returned to the Cathedral as there hadn’t been much time to look around the previous evening when we were attending Evensong.  Standard adult admission to Lincoln Cathedral is £8 and this includes an optional introductory floor tour but as we had arranged to take the 90 minute roof tour starting a little later we decided to pick up a map and explore the Cathedral by ourselves.

The Nave, Lincoln Cathedral
The Nave, Lincoln Cathedral

Lincoln Cathedral dates from 1073 and is regarded as one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the British Isles.  The impressive nave fills a vast area and is adorned by splendid stained glass windows.

Magnificent stained glass windows in Lincoln Cathedral
Magnificent stained glass windows adorn Lincoln Cathedral

Temporary seating was in the process of being removed from the Nave as on the previous two days the Cathedral had been the venue for Lincoln University’s graduation ceremony.  It is hard to think of a more beautiful place to celebrate academic success.

The Chapter House, Lincoln Cathedral
The Chapter House, Lincoln Cathedral

Continuing our self guided tour, we moved on to St. Hugh’s Choir where we had attended Evensong the previous evening which feels so large that it’s almost like a church within a church.  Following our small map, we strolled through the atmospheric cloisters and along to the magnificent Chapter House. Some of you may possibly recognise the cloisters and Chapter House as they were used for the filming of the Da Vinci Code.

Cloisters, Lincoln Cathedral
Cloisters, Lincoln Cathedral

Our leaflet suggested we look out for the famous Lincoln Imp, which took some finding but we eventually tracked it down, perched high in the Angel Choir overlooking St. Hugh’s shrine.  Legend has it that he was turned to stone by angels because of the mayhem he caused throughout the Cathedral.  The Imp is now the symbol of Lincoln and the emblem of the Lincoln City football team.  The interior of the Cathedral is truly awe-inspiring and a definite must see when visiting the city.

Roof space of Lincoln Cathedral
Walking along the narrow passages in the roof of the Cathedral

Soon, it was time for us to return to the information desk near the entrance to collect our lanyards and assemble for our 90 minute roof tour.  I did wonder whatever we would find to look at for such a long time, but I was totally captivated throughout the tour and the time just flew by.  Our volunteer guide was absolutely wonderful taking us up into the roof space where he unlocked large oak doors and led us into a series of hidden chambers that once formed the old bishops castle.  Our small group continued along narrow passages held up by ancient beams and wooden trusses that in medieval times had once been part of Sherwood Forest.

The bell ringing chamber at Lincoln Cathedral
The bell ringing chamber at Lincoln Cathedral

There were quite a lot of steps to climb but these were easily manageable as we stopped frequently to go into small rooms and learn their history.  Viewing the Bell Ringing Chamber was particularly interesting and to discover that the Cathedral bells are still rung on a regular basis by 12 bell ringers known as the Company of Ringers.  To access the Bell Ringing Chamber they have to climb 127 steps and then stand in a circle to ring the 12 bells holding on to the woollen handles of the bell ropes known as sallies.

Lincoln Cathedral rooftop view
Out on the roof terrace of Lincoln Cathedral

Timed to perfection, we were escorted outdoors onto the Cathedral rooftop with just two minutes to spare before the large bell, Great Tom struck 12.00 noon.  Despite it being a gloomy day, there were some good views to be had from this vantage point, I just wished I hadn’t left my woolly hat in the hotel as there was quite a cold wind blowing up there.

Lincoln Castle as viewed from the roof of Lincoln Cathedral
Lincoln Castle as viewed from the roof terrace of Lincoln Cathedral
Stunning views from the roof of Lincoln Cathedral
Stunning views from the roof of Lincoln Cathedral

Leaving one of the best views until the end of the tour, we were guided across a raised walkway over the Cathedral for the most spectacular aerial view of the Nave.  Taking the tour cost only £5 and we were all in agreement that it was money well spent uncovering the hidden gems in the Cathedral roof.

The nave of Lincoln Cathedral viewed from the elevated walkway
The nave of Lincoln Cathedral viewed from the elevated walkway

Before heading off for some lunch we took the opportunity of strolling around the outside of the Cathedral admiring its beautiful Gothic architecture and flying buttresses overlooking Cathedral Green.  All those steps had given us an appetite for some lunch and we didn’t have far to walk until we came across the delightful Stokes Lawn Cafe located in the cookhouse of the city’s former Lunatic Asylum which has been tastefully converted into a cafe and coffee roasting house. 

Stokes Lawn Cafe in Lincoln
Stokes Lawn Cafe in Lincoln’s former mental hospital

Sofas and chairs are upholstered using their own coffee bags whilst up-cycled items from the former hospital adorn its walls.  Continuing the up-cycled theme, a killer whale made from old car bumpers and coffee machine parts appears to swim from the ceiling looking down on us whilst we tucked into steaming bowls of broccoli and Stilton soup and tuna sandwiches. 

Inside Stokes Lawn Cafe, Lincoln
Inside Stokes Lawn Cafe, Lincoln

Stokes is a family run local business which has been in existence for more than a hundred years and glancing through the glass doors to the rear of the cafe we were able to see where the coffee blending, roasting and packaging takes place.  Being coffee lovers we couldn’t leave before tasting one of their blends which was so smooth it left us wanting more.  

Lincoln castle entrance
One of the entrances to Lincoln Castle

After our lunchtime rest, we literally just had to just cross the road to visit Lincoln Castle, which was built by order of William the Conqueror during the late 11th century.  Entrance to the castle is £14 but substantial savings can be made by purchasing a combined Cathedral/ Castle ticket at just £18 as they are close together and both wonderful places to visit.

The former Victorian prison of Lincoln Castle
The former Victorian prison of Lincoln Castle

We began our visit in the red brick Victorian prison which held prisoners from 1848-1878 for crimes ranging from petty theft to highway robbery and murder. 

Inside the Victorian prison in Lincoln Castle
Inside the Victorian prison in Lincoln Castle

The prison has been painstakingly restored giving access to the cells and by using the interactive displays, we got a feeling of what it must have been like to be locked up behind bars.

Inside one of the spartan prison cells, Lincoln castle
Inside one of the spartan prison cells

The prison has three floors of restored and recreated cells spread over separate male and female wings.

The prison chapel, Lincoln Castle
The prison chapel

A highlight for me was a visit to the prison chapel.  I’d never seen anything like it as prisoners were placed in separate cubicles so that they could participate in the service but were unable to come into contact with other prisoners.  It was both austere and atmospheric especially as several model figures had been placed in the cubicles and until we climbed up to the pulpit, we had no idea that they were there.

The prison chapel, Lincoln Castle
Model figures demonstrating how it would have been like for prisoners attending services

A newly installed vault contains one of only four original copies of the Magna Carta which is one of the most celebrated documents in the history of England.  The charter sent to Lincoln in 1215 was read out at the Sheriff’s court in Lincoln Castle before being placed in the Cathedral Treasury for safe keeping.  It has been retained in Lincoln ever since and is on permanent loan from the Cathedral.  On view alongside it is the Charter of the Forest dated 1217.  At the time of our visit the Magna Carta was in fact not on display owing to annual restoration work, so it might be worth checking in advance if viewing it is of particular interest.  A cinema screen on the floor below explores the Magna Carta explaining its significance.  

Lincoln Castle Courthouse
Lincoln Castle Courthouse

A courthouse lies within the castle walls which has been in use since it was first built in 1826 and is still in use today as Lincoln Crown Court.

Lincoln Castle walls
Walking along the medieval castle wall

Before leaving the castle we took a walk along the medieval wall, slowly making our way along its circumference, pausing frequently to take in the stunning views of the city and surrounding countryside.  Entrance to the wall is included in the castle ticket and audio guides are also available offering a commentary on its history.

Lincoln Cathedral from Castle walls
Stunning views of Lincoln Cathedral from the medieval castle wall

We just managed to complete the walk before the castle closed, so allow plenty of time for visiting the castle as there is so much to see and do.

It was then back to our hotel room for a rest and a cup of tea before enjoying a meal in Brown’s Restaurant and Pie Shop.

Steep Hill, Lincoln
Browns Restaurant and Pie Shop on Steep Hill, Lincoln

We’d noticed this small restaurant whilst walking up Steep Hill and thought it looked perfect for a cold winter’s night.  Cosily arranged over two floors, Brown’s specialises in gourmet pot pies with a selection of other dishes on offer too.  We couldn’t resist a pie with my son selecting the Murphy’s Irish stout and beef pie whilst I opted for the steak and kidney.  Our generous sized pies were served in individual pots and accompanied with creamy mashed potato and a medley of fresh vegetables which we accompanied with pint’s of lager.

Browns Pie Shop Steak and Kidney Pie, Lincoln
My mouthwatering steak and kidney pie

This was comfort food at its best with the tender pieces of steak in rich gravy melting in our mouths.  It’s a popular little place as all the tables were taken whilst we were there, so its perhaps a good idea to book especially if you intend dining there at weekends.  In addition to beef, pies come with game, cheese, vegetable, fish, wild rabbit and other fillings and most served with a puff pastry lid.  Its an informal little restaurant with friendly and efficient staff.  Another place I want to return to, and because the pies are made in pots, i.e. that they don’t have pastry bases, they can’t be fattening can they! 

Interior of Browns Pie Shop, Lincoln
Inside the cosy restaurant of Browns Pie Shop

We then walked off our tasty meal with a stroll down to the newer part of town before returning a little more slowly back up Steep Hill to our hotel.  What a lovely day we’d had visiting both the Cathedral and the Castle.  Stay tuned to find out how we spent our final day in lovely Lincoln.

If you have enjoyed reading this post, you may also be interested in the following:

Other posts in this series:

A weekend in Lincoln

Similar posts:

A short break in the Ribble Valley

A weekend in Norwich

44 thoughts on “Day 2. Exploring Lincoln

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  4. I’ve visited many English cities and cathedrals but never Lincoln. Your post makes it clear I have to go. Once this wretched pandemic is over and it is safe to travel again. Meanwhile – your post is a great incentive and introduction. Thank you. (And I am sure the gift shop has many excellent tea towels!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your kind words Josie. Visiting Lincoln will be something nice to look forward to in the coming months when we are all able to travel once again. I have a cupboard full of tea towels most of them collected by my mother or brought back as gifts for friends and relatives from near and far. I try to rotate them so that I can derive a little pleasure from using them whilst attending to the daily chores. Take care, Marion.

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    1. Thank you for taking an interest in my series of posts on Lincoln. I agree that it’s a steep climb up to the castle and cathedral but as you say, well worth the effort. There’s actually a regular bus service now that shuttles people up and down who can’t manage to walk and wouldn’t be able to get up otherwise.

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  5. jasonlikestotravel

    I don’t know why but I missed out on going up the cathedral for some reason. Both the cathedral and castle are wonderful though. I also popped in to Browns Pie shop on my visit there too! Definitely a good choice on my short day trip! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so pleased to read that you also popped into Brown’s Pie Shop Jason – it tasted so good and I do so hope they will continue to thrive during these difficult times. Going up onto the cathedral roof will be something for you to look forward to next time (and another pie!). Take care.

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    1. Thanks Andy for taking an interest in my post featuring Lincoln Cathedral and Castle. The roof tour was really interesting and very safe. How exciting that you’ve been to Ecuador and participated in a Cathedral roof tour in Quito, perhaps I’ll have to add this to my ever growing list of places to visit.

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  6. Jepsy Babu

    Wow! I really have no words to comment. All the photos are amazing. I like all your blogs but this one is just breathtaking. Thank you so much for sharing these photos. I really wish I could visit all the places mentioned in your blog.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes indeed, there are other examples of the segregated chapels. One is contained in the “separate prison” at Port Arthur, Tasmania. During the years of transportation, Van Diemen’s Land, as Tasmania was originally named by the British, was where they sent the most hardened convicts and also recidivists. This article and illustrations are very interesting.
        https://www.churchesoftasmania.com/2018/11/no-281-seperate-prison-chapel-at-port.html

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Lovely photos of the cathedral and the castle. Our sons graduation was in the cathedral with the reception in the castle gardens, so it brings back such wonderful memories. Fabulous city and those pies look amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jonno, it was lovely. We noticed the marquees in the Castle gardens being taken down on our first day and discovered they were for the graduation receptions. Both the castle and Cathedral were spectacular and you’re quite right, you can’t beat a good pie on a cold winter’s evening. Hope your weekend is going well,

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