After another delicious breakfast at the White Hart Hotel, we checked out of our room, leaving our luggage to collect later in the day. We’d read that an exhibition entitled ‘A Century of Valour’ documenting Lincolnshire’s aviation gallantry had just opened at the Collection Museum and as it was nearby, we decided to begin our day there.
Entrance to the museum is free of charge, with a £5 charge to view the temporary exhibition. The galleries relate the story of bravery during WWI, WWII and the Cold War, with information panels documenting the heroism of both air crew and ground personnel who bravely risked their lives to support others.
A Victoria Cross awarded to Wing Commander Guy Gibson who led the famous Dambusters raid during WWII is on display for the first time in 30 years. Wing Cdr. Gibson was awarded the Victoria Cross for his part in the 1943 raid on Germany in which he commanded 617 Squadron. He flew out of RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire and was killed when his plane crashed on the way back from another mission in Germany the following year.
Other exhibition highlights range from artefacts from pilot Douglas Bader’s career to a model nuclear bomb. Animal bravery is also recognised with photos of explosive detection dogs who had been awarded the Dicken Medal, considered the equivalent of a Victoria Cross for animals. Also documented is a carrier pigeon who had been awarded a medal for flying hundreds of miles whilst injured carrying a message notifying officials of a plane crash. If you might also be interested to view this exhibition, it continues until 15th March.
Although we had come to the museum specifically to view the temporary exhibition we took the opportunity of exploring the main collection which contains a diverse range of objects from the Lincolnshire area including aspects of archaeology, natural history and armoury.
To help us find our way around, we used the services of Lindsey, a robot developed by the University of Lincoln. The robot has been programmed to navigate parts of the museum on its own and to even recharge itself. It was fun interacting with Lindsey via its touch screen and getting it to act as our personal tour guide.
After leaving the museum we wandered down the hill for a spot of shopping along High Street with its mix of independent stores and national brands. Along here we came across the Waterside Shopping Centre which has a bright, modern interior and contains a variety of stores and cafes. The shopping centre overlooks the River Witham which looked attractive with narrow boats moored along the quayside.
Close by is the Cornhill Quarter which has just completed its first phase of re-development with shops and restaurants occupying the historic Corn Exchange building. A second phase is currently underway which will include an Everyman Cinema plus further shops and restaurants.
Continuing a little further we followed signs to the Brayford waterfront which we learnt is actually England’s oldest inland harbour. The River Witham flows into Brayford Pool, a natural lake formed from where the River Witham and the Fossdyke Canal meet and this was once a bustling port in Roman times.
It’s a lovely place for a stroll with its marina, waterside pubs and restaurants. After crossing the bridge over to Brayford Wharf we reached the main campus of the University of Lincoln which has a splendid waterfront setting.
Libraries always interest me and I was delighted to discover that an old railway warehouse which had fallen into disrepair has been renovated, retaining many of the building’s original features and is now the university library.
We then slowly made our way back up to the historic Cathedral Quarter passing the wonderful High Bridge which was built around 1160 and is the oldest bridge in the country to still have buildings in use on it.
Having returned to the top of Steep Hill we were ready for some lunch and spotting the quaint Bells Tea Shop we knew we’d found the perfect place. Decorated in a traditional style with pretty little wall lamps fashioned from bone china tea cups and pastel coloured bunting hung across the rear wall it had a cosy feel.
We ordered afternoon tea, a quintessential English classic, and our three tier cake stand arrived filled with a selection of sandwiches, homemade cakes, scones, jam and clotted cream all served on pretty Cath Kidston crockery. We tried our best, but couldn’t possibly manage to eat it all, but as it was all so delicious, we asked for cake boxes to enjoy the remainder later in the evening when we got back home. Bells is a family run business with friendly service and where nothing seemed to be too much trouble, even making fresh pots of tea for us as we tucked into our huge scones. It’s definitely worth the hike up Steep Hill to get there and not expensive either, give me small independent cafes like this any day over the large chains!
Fortunately, I found a small shopping bag buried in the bottom of my handbag, so we carefully placed the cake boxes inside it before setting off to visit another of Lincoln’s museums.
Located about a ten minute level walk from the Cathedral and slightly off the tourist trail is The Museum of Lincolnshire Life housed in a former Victorian barracks dating from 1857. The museum offers free entry and is open daily 10.00 – 4.00 p.m. It covers the social history of Lincolnshire from 1750 to more recent times.
In one building, rooms are set out as various shops, a print-works, school room and a post office. A larger exhibition hall displays a wide range of vehicles including trains, farm machinery and a WWI tank. There’s also a children’s playground, cafe and shop. It was much bigger than we were expecting and we must have spent at least an hour looking around the interesting exhibits.
Our weekend in lovely Lincoln was coming to a close but we still had time for a wander around Bailgate, the level area at the top of Steep Hill beyond the Cathedral and castle. Bailgate has a village-like feel with its small, locally run shops including a bookshop, bakers and butchers.
The butchers caught my eye as I noticed a board in its window indicating that Redhill Farm Shop supply both Lord’s Cricket Ground and Silverstone so I thought it must be something special and popped in to take a look at its array of free range meat and tasty pork pies. Needless to say, we returned home with some of their Lincolnshire sausages (rated one of the top three sausages in the UK) and a piece of Lincolnshire Haslet as we’d never tried it before. Laden with our shopping, we collected our luggage from the hotel and sadly bade our farewell to historic Lincoln, a wonderful hidden gem of English cities.
During our stay in Lincoln we were guests of Visit Lincoln and as always, all views and opinions are entirely my own.
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