Although I’m back home now, on Sunday Sez and Chris took me to Lincoln for the day. I’ve never been to Lincoln before: its a charming city. We parked outside the castle, with a vague plan to visit the cathedral. Then i saw the castle, and wanted to visit that! So we went there first. There’s a lot surviving to it, mostly because its been used throughout the years, first as part of the defence network, of course, but in time, by various dignitaries and monarchs over the years (Henry VIII and Katherine Howard stayed there on their great progress of the North, for example) but in the 18th and 19th centuries a prison was built inside the castle, for debtors and criminals, some criminals were executed there (the long drop was developed there, the technique that broke the neck of the person being hung, rather than suffocating slowly to death) and during WWII the high observation tower was used as a lookout point for fire. The large Crown Court Building in the center of the castle is still in use as a Court, although the rest of the castle is now open for tourists.

We began by walking around the curtain wall, which is a good few meters wide, and you can see for miles from the top of the wall. The Cathedral is next to the castle, almost, so you get good views of that too. We went up to the curtain wall via a tower next to the east gate (which is the main entrance today) and where – according to Chris – criminals would be hung, at the top anyway. then we walked around the curtain wall, over the east gate, to the observatory tower. A little history lessons in castles: your original castle was a bailey: a fortified tower. Then some bright spark thought to put a big wall around the tower, thus making it harder for your enemies to get to the tower (which is where you kept important stuff like your family and women, the gold). This was called a mott and bailey construction – the motte being the tower, the bailey being the area inside the curtain wall. Lincoln castle is unusual in having 2 mottes: one called Lucy Tower, and the observatory tower which was built on by one of the prison warders said he needed an observation post to foil escape attempts when he really wanted to watch the stars! I was very brave and went up all the steps to the top of the observatory tower, got a few pictures off then dashed down again (I don’t like heights very much). then we went back down to terra firma, which i was rather grateful for. getting up to Lucy Tower involved going up a lot of very steep steps, and i’m afraid i chickend out of those, but Chris went up. After that we walked around to the bath house, the well, and then went to visit the prison, which has the only surviving seperatist chapel in the world (the idea at the time was to seperate the prisoners from each other), and which is really quite chilling.

Then we decided to leave the castle and walk down Steep Hill. That’s actually its name, walking from the castle and cathedral and where all the posh people would’ve lived, down the hill to the shopping centre at the bottom. Known locally as “Heart Attack Alley”, its not an easy walk by any means. We passed Harlequin House – the oldest theatre in Lincoln, i think Chris said – and Jew’s Court/Jew’s House, which were prominently associated with the Jewish Community in Lincoln till the expulsion of the Jews in 1290. Sadly, being a sunday, neither were open. When we got to the bottom we found a pub, had a drink, then walked all the way back up again.. and i put it here for the record: i beat Steep Hill!!!!!

A quick trip around Lincoln Cathedral was next – parts of the da Vinci Code were filmed there, and i have to say its a beautiful building. I wish i could’ve seen more of it, unfortunately, being a sunday, the deacons were ushering out the tourists for a service (and if you ever get the chance to listen to music there, grab it – a choir was singing as we left and it was absolutely enchanting). There’s a sort of medieval court (Bailgate) between the castle and cathedral as well that apparently is lovely over christmas – there’s a christmas market which is very popular, and very atmospheric (although, i have to say, i really don’t fancy walking up steep hill in winter!).

After that we drove to a pretty village that Chris knew, had our picnic on the village green in sunshine, then drove home again, very very tired. The following day i returned home. It was a lovely break, a much needed one, and i really enjoyed seeing some of Lincolnshire (many thanks to Sez and Chris).

Photos below, as usual, more on flickr if you want to see.

Now I’m back? nose back to the grindstone, getting back on with the garden, and all the other things i want to do!!!

Pretty flower in the grounds of Lincoln Castle

Lincoln Castle, a window in one of the towers

a staircase that is part of the East Gate, no longer used, scaffolding has been driven down it to hold the walkway i was standing on, but the window still exists.

Standing over the East Gate, looking towards the Court buildings (the Ivy covered buildings), with the prison buildings on the left in red brick.

Lincoln Cathedral, taken through a ruined window within the observatory tower

Chris climbing up the steps to Lucy Tower. See! its steep! I made it half way up when i made the fatal mistake of thinking just how far i would have to fall if i fell, and then i realised i was going to have to come down again, and … argh. i sat down on a step, then inched down on me bum the rest of the way…!!!

me, standing within one of the little cells within the prison chapel. the idea was that each prisoner would be seperate from the rest, and could only see the pulpit. the chapel is in the shape of a small ampitheatre, and you step down from the steps into the cell. its very spooky and chilling and you feel very alone in there. i wouldn’t want to be there for very long, thats for sure. oh, and the guys behind me are mannequins.

me, inside one of the prison cells. yes, i know. i look far too chirpy and happy to be in prison!

a scale model of the castle. the East Gate is on the left, in the middle of the left wall, the two long prongs stretching into the castle. The observatory tower is to the north of it, the other motte to the right of the observatory tower. the prison is in the middle, next to the observatory tower, the Crown Court building to the right of the model. the first tower we went up in is on the bottom left side, below the East Gate. The bath House along the bottom curtain wall, in the middle, its not very visible.

The observatory tower. from outside the prison building. yes. I was at the top of THAT!

me with one of the pair of cannon permanently parked outside the East Gate.

Steep hill. This isn’t the bottom! The road bends, so its not possible to take a photo looking all the way up. I looked up the gradient: its a one in seven gradient! This is looking up towards Baileygate, Harlequin House is behind me. This is about a quarter of the way down.

Lincoln Cathedral

Lincoln Cathedral, inside. its a little blurry, as i had to turn the flash off.

Our picnic lunch – home made potato salad, home made pesto pasta, salad, ciabatta bread with pork haslet (just for me), boiled egg and quiche, and finally, strawberries and apple turnover! all very yummy, and we didn’t manage to eat it all.