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Lincoln b&b, guesthouse and hotel accommodation

Lincoln in Lincolnshire

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Visit Lincoln and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:

Lincoln, Lincolnshire. The ancient part of this historic city occupies a rugged hill-top rising 200 ft above the River Witham. In earliest times the Celtic tribesmen called their settlement Lindon, “the hill-fort by a pool”, until with the coming of the Roman IXth Legion in A.D. 47 the name was latinized to Lindum and later Lindum Colonia, from which the name Lincoln was derived. The subsequent history of this turbulent place was always determined by its geographical position. The elevated limestone plateau provided a natural strategic command of the valley below, and the river served as an extra wall to slow the advance of the enemy. Excavations show that the first Romans maintained a garrison here from which to pivot their forces for the control of eastern England. The river also functioned as a main artery through which flowed the trade that brought prosperity to the whole community.

Roman Lincoln had fine colonnaded streets, and elaborate public baths which are only slowly being revealed through careful archaeological digging. It has been found that drinking water was supplied in earthenware pipes, under pressure, from a source a mile and a half away from the hill. The dominant industry of this important region was agriculture, the successful development of which resulted in a major extension of the town walls to encompass a well-planned suburb. The present Stonebow stands on the site of the Roman south gate here, and beyond this, where Newport Arch still bestrides the ancient Ermine Street, the advanced settlements of the 3rd century A.D. started a trend towards civilized living that was to continue in later periods of Lincoln's history.

With the ending of the Roman occupation the Middle Ages inherited road and canal systems, a labyrinth of sewers, working farms, and a wealth of tile and stone. In Anglo-Saxon times Lincoln became part of the kingdom of Mercia, and after Paulinus had introduced the Christian faith a stone church is said to have been built within the old Roman walls. The Danes made Lincoln the chief of the Five Boroughs of their Danelaw, as street names like Saltergate, Danesgate and Hun-gate bear witness, but it was to be the Norman invaders whose influence made Lincoln one of the most important cities in the realm.

Lincoln Castle was founded by William the Conqueror in 1068. His purpose, like that of his predecessors, was to create an invulnerable stronghold. Even today the battlemented castle walls inspire awe in the beholder. The building encloses a roughly quadrangular area of more than six acres, with lawns and trees. The walls vary from 8 to 10 ft in thickness and double this in height. At the north-east corner there is a low tower known as Cobb Hall and on two great detached mounds on the south side are the Observatory Tower and the uprights of the Norman keep.

Cobb Hall was added in the 14th century, to be used as a place of punishment. The iron rings to which prisoners were fastened are still to be seen in the walls, and the roof of the tower remained a place of public execution until 1868. Within the passage of the castle gateway is all that is left of the Eleanor Cross, which was set up close to the Gilbertine priory of St Catherine, where the body of Eleanor of Castile, the wife of Edward I, was embalmed. This was the first of the famous crosses erected to mark the halting places of the queen's funeral procession from Harby in Nottingham-shire to Westminster Abbey.

The domestic architecture of the period is splendidly represented by a building put up in about 1170 and known as the Jew's House. This fine example of Norman house construction, serving today as an antique dealer's shop, is at 15 The Strait and is notable for its superb decorated doorway and chimney above. Close by on the east side of Steep Hill is Aaron's House, a well-preserved building dating from the period when Lincoln was at the height of its wool-based prosperity. It is said to be the oldest inhabited house in England.

In Castle Square there is a faithfully restored timbered building of the 16th century which is now the premises of the Westminster and National Provincial Bank.

The Cardinal's Hat, probably named in compliment to Cardinal Wolsey, who was Bishop of Lincoln in 1514, is another attractive, timber-framed building leading off The Strait in company with others similarly restored. Some 300 yds from here stands the imposing 15th- and 16th-century Stonebow Gateway of which the upper story accommodates the city Guildhall. The wide central archway in massive stonework carries on the south face canopied statues of St Mary and the Archangel Gabriel. Over the arch are the arms of James I. On the battlemented roof the mote bell, dated 1387, is still rung to summon council meetings. It is believed to be the oldest mote bell in Britain. In the Guildhall itself is Lincoln's magnificent collection of civic insignia, which includes the sword given by Richard II in 1387, Henry Vii's sword, believed to have been presented after a victory over the Earl of Lincoln in 1487, and the blade of a sword presented by Charles I in 1642.

Other monuments to Lincoln's ancient story include Greyfriars, a fine medieval building now altered for use as the City and County Museum. This was originally a two-story church, dating from the 13th century, which in 1574, some 40 years after the suppression of the monasteries, became a free school. The building is the earliest church of the Franciscan order now surviving in England. A further continuous link across the years is provided by the Newport Arch, already mentioned here, which exists as the only Roman gateway in Britain still used by traffic. There is also evidence in the prison chapel of the castle that man's inhumanity to man persisted well into the 19th century. This is part of the debtors' prison built by John Can of York, where the worshippers were ordered in one at a time and compelled to occupy narrow enclosed pews, which prevented them from seeing their companions, made standing impossible, and afforded only a view of the preacher in his pulpit high above the floor. A more pleasing reminder of the last century is the great bronze statue of the Lincolnshire poet, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, sculptured by his friend 0. F. Watts and set in the lawns of Minster Green in 1905.

The most modern repository for Lincoln's treasures is the Usher Art Gallery, on the Lindum Road, which was given to the city by James Ward Usher in the fulfilment of his promise, made in 1916, that a gallery to house his gift of precious jewels, watches and miniatures would belong to his birthplace for ever.

Lincoln Cathedral is the third largest in England, exceeded only by York Minster and St Paul's. Its area is about 57,000 sq. ft. In 1072 William the Conqueror appointed Bishop Remigius to the vast diocese sweeping from the Humber in the north to the Thames, and directed him to build a new cathedral commensurate with the importance of the area. By 1092 the work was done, and a great church some 325 ft long dominated the crown of Lincoln hill. A disastrous fire in 1141 resulted in major restorations being carried out by the third bishop, Alexander the Magnificent, who greatly enriched the stonework and added to the height of the existing west towers. More changes were to follow, for in 1185 an earthquake devastated the structural bulk of the cathedral. A year later a Carthusian monk. Hugh of Avalon, became bishop and it was he who in 1192 began the immense task of rebuilding in Early English style the noble edifice which has endured to this day as the glorious, triple-towered Cathedral Church of St Mary.

The nave, choir and retro-choir are all aisled, each having a triforium and clerestory. The nave belongs to the first half of the 13th century and contains a rare black mid-l2th-century font in Tournai marble. St Hugh's Choir, named after the founder, is remarkable for the profusion of pinnacles and wealth of carved misericords in its l4th-century choir stalls. The shrine of St Hugh is housed in the retro-choir, or Angel Choir, which is a supremely beautiful monument of English Geometrical Decorated work. The splendid east window, judged the finest of its period, is filled now with l9th-century glass, but the windows east of the aisles delight with a medley of brilliant 13th-century figure glass. Shining into the great transept are the two Eyes of the cathedral, the Dean's Eye at the north end, a rose window containing vividly coloured glass made for it between 1200 and 1220. and the Bishop's Eye at the south end. containing a mosaic of ancient fragments assembled in the 18th century. Another important feature of Lincoln Cathedral is the arcade designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1674. the year in which he began the rebuilding of St Paul's in London. Above this is Wren's library, in which are kept first editions of Paradise Lost. Don Quixote and part of Spenser's Faerie Queene. Two more valuable possessions. now removed from the library to one of the cathedral chapels in the north choir aisle, are William of Normandy's charter for the transfer of the see from Dorchester in Oxfordshire to Lincoln and the finest of four contemporary copies of the Magna Carta still extant. This is the only part of the cathedral for which an admission charge is made.

Modern Lincoln owes its prosperity to the many technological advancements of the engineering industry. A consequence of the great agricultural wealth of the countryside was the mechanization of farm implements in the middle of the last century. This was followed by a diversification into engineering manufacture for general use. Today the city of Lincoln provides employment for some thousands of people in heavy industry while still retaining the character and tone of a long and noble past.

Nearby towns: Gainsborough, Grantham, Horncastle, Market Rasen, Newark-on-Trent, Retford, Sleaford

Nearby villages: Aubourn, Bassingham, Bardney, Blankney, Boothby Graffoe, Boultham, Brattleby, Broadholme, Broxholme, Bullington, Canwick, Cherry Willingham, Coleby, Coningsby, Doddington, Dunholme, Eagle, Fiskerton, Hackthorn, Harmston, Heighington, Ingleby, Langworth, Metheringham, Nettleham, Newball, Nocton, North Carlton, North Hykeham, Norton Disney, Potter Hanworth, Reepham, Riseholme, Saxilby, Scampton, Scothern, Skellingthorpe, Snelland, South Carlton, South Hykeham, Stow, Sudbrooke, Swinderby, Thorpe on the Hill, Washingborough, Whisby, Wickenby

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