An amble around Durham’s cathedral

After two lovely sunny days in Lincoln we were ready to carry on northwards. Instead of heading for the A1 immediately we decided to drive through the Lincolnshire countryside via Gainsborough and Bawtry and get onto the A1 near Doncaster. A lot of this region is familiar to me as I grew up in Retford (Notts), Scunthorpe (Lincs) and then moved to Doncaster (S. Yorks) on my return from South Africa. I still managed to get confused on the outskirts of Doncaster though as many of the road routes have altered since I was last there. And then we hit an accident on the A1 and were at a standstill for about an hour!

Eventually though we were about to hit Durham, another city that although I have passed by many times I have never actually visited. My intention was to find the park ‘n ride and bus into the city, but obviously my directional awareness was totally absent on this day as I couldn’t find the site and finished up almost in the city centre where more roadworks were taking place. Heading back out of the city we eventually found the right road (it is next to the A1 but not very well signed) and caught a bus back into the city. It was a very hot day and by the time we had walked up to the castle and cathedral area we were feeling very warm!

Cathedral view from the river
Cathedral view from the river

First stop was to get some lunch and relax! We saw a nice looking café on the Palace Green and found a table outside. After 10 minutes we moved inside to get out of the heat. Now bear in mind this was mid-September in the north-east of the country!

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You are not charged to enter the cathedral, though a donation is suggested, and you are not allowed to take photographs inside either, which was rather disappointing. I did see a few people surreptitiously taking a few shots with their phones and a couple who had cameras were approached, rather more gently than my Lincoln experience.

I did make a few notes and sketches though:
Prior Castell’s clock – a highly decorative wooden clock; the shrine of St Cuthbert; huge pillars carved in a diamond or chevron pattern in the nave; coloured marble floors and a lectern stand with pink and green marble pillars and heraldic lions at the base. Inserts of patterned marble and bands adorn the upper columns. Shrines with traces of the medieval paint in red and blue… Lindisfarne Gospels

Cloisters - the windows would once have contained clear and stained glass
Cloisters – the windows would once have contained clear and stained glass

On entering the cloisters, where the monks would have once passed daily on their way to the Chapter House, the Monk’s Dormitory, Scriptorium, Refectory and Great Kitchen, I decided the photography rules no longer applied. The shadows on the stone slabs were far too tempting and how could I resist the flat wooden ceiling with shields at the intersections of each cross beam and the golden angels near the Chapter House.

More notes: Arched shadows form on the wide stone floor as the hot sun beams down on the cloisters. Wooden pews line the walls and marks in the stonework indicate that possibly a recess has been blocked up. Maybe where the monks stored their books? A pipistrelle bat flies down the passageways and surprises me – I have never seen one at this time of day before. Maybe the darkness in here confuses it into thinking it is dusk. Dust motes float in the air and I can almost imagine the slapping of the sandals of the monks from distant times in the all-pervading silence.

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We exited the cloisters into a Memorial Garden which stands on the site of the Monastic buildings. A young lad sat peacefully on the bench studying his text book in the sunshine whilst we soaked in the colour and the beauty of the roses still flowering in September.

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The Ypres Rose
The Ypres Rose

Brought back from Ypres in 1917 by Lieutenant H J W Scott 5th BN:DLI. Since then it has travelled with the Scott family from Essex to Surrey and to Cornwall. Presented to this garden of remembrance by his son Mr O T Scott. Planted on Remembrance Sunday 1978.

College Green is a quiet area on the south side of the cathedral, it has a very beautiful secluded village like quality to it, with the houses being the home to members of Durham’s Dean and Chapter. Many of the buildings surrounding the Green originated in the Middle Ages.

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An arched gateway on the east side known historically as the Abbey Gates also called Prior Castell’s Gatehouse of 1495-1519 leads into the street called the Bailey. The gate is still locked each night. It has some delightful carvings on the ceiling.

The south western corner of the College is the home to the Durham Chorister School. This was originally established as a song school around 1390. Former pupils of this school have included the former Prime Minister Tony Blair and the actor, Rowan Atkinson most noted for his role in the BBC comedy Blackadder and as the comedy character Mr Bean.

As usual, colourful doors and interesting windows caught my eye as we made our way back to the Palace Green where we could catch the cathedral bus back to the Park ‘n Ride stop.

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For some inexplicable reason I failed to get a shot of the full west face of the cathedral (I have a vague recollection that there was scaffolding around some of it). To see some images of the cathedral then please visit this site.

These memorial crosses near the cathedral did manage to catch my eye. I was particularly drawn to the rather arts and crafts style of carving on the larger cross.

IF YOU ENJOY A WALK, LONG OR SHORT, THEN HAVE A LOOK AT JO’S SITE WHERE YOU ARE WELCOME TO JOIN IN WITH HER MONDAY WALKS.

Lincoln Castle: Medieval Wall Walk

Lincoln has a magnificent cathedral, but practically opposite there is the castle. Not any old ruin, but a grand Norman castle with two keeps and a complete curtain wall. Its highly strategic position has given it continuing historical importance – the site of many battles, sieges, medieval wheeling and dealing and it houses one of the four surviving examples of that monumental document – the Magna Carta.

The castle faces the cathedral and market place in the upper town
The castle faces the cathedral and market place in the upper town

Nowadays it is a wonderful museum telling the stories of life as both Georgian and Victorian prisons, the rebellions, the Battle of Lincoln in 1141, which came about because of the struggle for the throne between Matilda, the daughter and chosen heir of Henry I and her cousin Stephen; the siege of Lincoln 1191; the Magna Carta, 1206, and the civil war siege in 1644. From 1660 it ceased to be a military stronghold and became a jail and courthouse.

Georgian and Victorian prisons
Georgian and Victorian prisons

We decided to join a free tour of the castle and grounds which was very interesting and we learned a lot about the history of the site. Afterwards we wandered around the prison cells where they have short films telling the story of individuals and why they were in prison and also went to have a look at the ‘Magna Carta’ and the ‘Charter of the Forest’. Then I left OH resting on a bench in the sunshine whilst I walked around the Medieval Wall Walk.

Cobb Hall
Cobb Hall

Cobb Hall is the latest of the three towers, estimated to have been built between 1190 and 1220. The tower defended the castle’s north-east quarter. Although flat on this side, externally it is rounded and inside the walls have been carved with graffiti by prisoners and bored guards. Between 1817 and 1859, 38 prisoners were hanged on a wooden gallows from the top of this tower.

On the wall heading to Cobb Tower
On the wall heading to Cobb Tower
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Water Tower built in 1911 after a typhoid epidemic.

Although outside the castle walls you cannot avoid noticing this impressive tower. The 120-foot-tall building was constructed a result of a Typhoid epidemic in Lincoln that started in late 1904. 113 people died from the outbreak which was one of the city’s biggest peacetime disasters. The building was completed in 1911, decorated with the fleur-de-lys – the symbol of Lincoln Cathedral’s Patron Saint, Mary Mother of Jesus. It is supplied by piping water from a reservoir 22 miles away at Elkesly, Nottinghamshire.

Lincolnshire flag
The new Lincolnshire flag
And whilst we are talking about the fleur-de -lys, it is also present on the newly designed flag which was unveiled in 2005 to promote the county’s profile.

The red cross is the Saint George’s Cross representing England. Yellow represents the crops grown in the county, as well as the nickname “Yellowbellies” given to people born and bred in Lincolnshire. Blue represents both the sea of the East coast and the wide skies of Lincolnshire, and green symbolises the rich lushness of fenland fields. The fleur de lys is a recognised symbol of the City of Lincoln.

The East Gate
The East Gate
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The Lucy Tower

The Lucy Tower is named after one of the formidable women linked to the castle. It was built on top of its Norman mound and is a polygonal shell keep, the internal space was kept open.

Observatory Tower
Observatory Tower

The wall walk continues around the back of the Victorian prison to the Observatory tower which was built on the smaller of the two mounds that join the south curtain wall. The additional tower was added in early †19C by prison governor John Merryweather who was a keen amateur astronomer.

The Observatory Tower
The Observatory Tower

IF YOU ENJOY A WALK, LONG OR SHORT, THEN HAVE A LOOK AT JO’S SITE WHERE YOU ARE WELCOME TO JOIN IN WITH HER MONDAY WALKS.

Lincoln’s Minster Yard

Following on from our stroll in uphill Lincoln we entered through the †14C Exchequer Gate into Minster Yard which is contained within the remains of its medieval gates and walls. Most of the houses are medieval and were built for the clergymen and associated workers who maintain the life of the cathedral.

Exchequer Gate
Exchequer Gate

Facing the cathedral are four Georgian houses, 20 – 23, referred to as the ‘Number Houses‘ as they are believed to be the first houses in England to be given numbers. (So why start at #20?) Built in 1740 by Precentor Trimnell on the site of a blacksmith’s shop and other buildings. Number 19 was the birth place of the painter William Logsdail (1859-1944), a prolific English landscape, portrait, and genre painter. His father was a verger at the cathedral.

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Moving in a clockwise direction we encircled the cathedral, looking back across its Norman west frontage, the only part remaining after an earthquake in 1185.

The houses facing are for Cathedral dignitaries – formerly the Deanery and the ‘Old Subdeanery’. This corner of the cathedral is notorious for the wind whipping around it and has the name ‘Kill Canon Corner’.

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EastgateFrom the northern side, along Eastgate, you get a view of the towers.

A short walk down James Street also provides views of the cathedral. As well as lovely golden stone walls. An area where the Burghersh family served the Chantry House founded in the mid †14c.

We returned to Eastgate and carried on walking around the cathedral grounds.

Atherstone House
Atherstone House

Passing the Bishop’s House, Deanery and Minster School which are all part of a medieval house built around a courtyard, you come back onto Minster Yard through the Priory Gate, or, like us, over the lawn.

Potter Gate
Potter Gate

To get a decent photo of the medieval Potter Gate meant standing in the centre of the road as it is now straggling a traffic island. Fortunately in the evening this was fairly quiet. Lovely Georgian and medieval houses line this road.

The Chancery
The Chancery

The Chancery is probably the prettiest with its red-brick facade and oriel window in the centre.

Choristers' House
Choristers’ House
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Vicars’ Court and Palace Gate

“To see it [Lincoln cathedral] in full perfection, it should be in the red sunshine of an autumnal evening, when the red roofs and red brick houses would harmonise with the sky and with the fading foliage”
~ Robert Southey, poet (1774 – 1843)

Precentory, Cantilupe Chantry
Precentory, Cantilupe Chantry

Through the Palace Gate the road leads down to the Medieval Bishop’s Palace which was unfortunately closing as we approached (an English Heritage site) and the Bishop’s Palace and Alnwick Tower. This was the home of the Bishop of Lincoln from 1886 until 1942 and was converted into a 16 room bed and breakfast establishment in 2009, with prices for a double room from £85 and views of the cathedral, this is a perfect place to stay.

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The Old Bishop’s Palace (EH)
The Old Palace B&B
The Old Palace B&B

A pathway led back up to the cathedral and there are some good views of the south side of the cathedral including the great rose window which contains fragments of medieval glass.

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The South Transept
The South East Transept and Judgement Porch
Back to Exchequer Gate
Back to Exchequer Gate

Next time we’ll have a look inside the cathedral.

IF YOU ENJOY A WALK, LONG OR SHORT, THEN HAVE A LOOK AT JO’S SITE WHERE YOU ARE WELCOME TO JOIN IN WITH HER MONDAY WALKS.

Historic Uphill Lincoln

Our arrival in Lincoln was rather fraught, after a road closure in the centre of town disrupted our route to the Castle Hotel up in the Cathedral Quarter. Fortunately the SatNav (AKA  Florence II ) got us out of difficulty and we arrived in plenty of time to have a stroll around the neighbourhood and choose a restaurant for the evening.

The Castle Hotel
Westgate

From directly outside the hotel, where we had booked a ground floor room in the former stables block, we had a glimpse of both the cathedral and the castle.

Cathedral
Cathedral
Castle walls
Castle walls

And a five minute stroll took us to Exchequer Gate (header image) and Castle Hill the medieval space which forms the setting across which the Cathedral and Castle face each other, dating from 1072 and 1068 respectively.

There is something I find so appealing about towns and cities where the streets have names such as Bailgate, Eastgate, Westgate, Pottergate, Michaelgate; you just know you are in a place steeped in history. Continue reading Historic Uphill Lincoln

Sleaford Historic Riverside Walk

Leaving Norwich behind the next stage of our journey was northwards to Lincoln where we would stay a couple of nights and explore the Cathedral area. As the journey was quite short and we couldn’t check in until after 3 pm I decided to make a couple of detours en route.

Driving through the flat landscape with polytunnels stretching far on either side of the road, you realise that this is the agricultural heart of England. The distinct whiff of cabbages was all too familiar.

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The first stop was to see the windmill at Heckington. The second stop was in nearby Sleaford to have a look at the Navigation Wharf and have a bite to eat. We parked up in the market place where you find an imposing church and a large war memorial. Being a Sunday there was no market and the parking was free. Always good.

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I haven’t been to Lincolnshire for a long while. But the red brick houses and quiet streets and even the market place, immediately took me back to my childhood when I lived in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire before returning to the county of my birth when I was ten.

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Slipping around the corner we made our way to the Navigation Wharf, originally the terminus of the Sleaford Navigation. Goods shipped on the Navigation were stored at Quayside House to await collection or dispatch. Navigation House was the Sleaford Navigation Company office, built in 1838 and now is now a small museum explaining the early development of the River Slea and the story of the Navigation. We had a quick look inside and then went to the National Centre for Craft and Design to have a look at the exhibitions.

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A pretty chair – this would look nice in my bedroom

And also the view over the town from the roof-top gallery.

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A short walk takes you on a circular route along a section of the River Slea to Cogglesford Mill and back to Navigation Wharf. We were hoping to get a coffee and sandwich at the Mill, but were sadly disappointed.

After crossing the footbridge (originally built in 1962) replaced in 2008 the path follows alongside the East Banks towards the Leisure Centre. Three interesting mosaics have been laid in the pathway.

Just past the Leisure Centre is a footbridge and a sluice gate which marks the splitting of the river into two channels; the New Slea and the Old Slea which used to be the most important channel but is now mostly used as an overflow. Original Iron Age and Roman settlements at Old Sleaford were founded on a ford at this point.  The New Slea was straightened when it became the Navigation in 1790 and it may have been the site of several Anglo-Saxon watermills.

Footbridge
Footbridge
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Sluice Gate

We continued along the East Banks until we reached the mill pond and tilting weir (1961) where we turned left over the lock and mill headrace to Cogglesford Watermill.

The mill dates back to Saxon times and is thought to be the only Sheriff’s watermill still in operation in England. The present mill was built in the early †18C and still produces flour on milling days which take place from April to December.

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Cogglesford Watermill

We were disappointed not to find a tea-room here, only a vending machine, and since we weren’t in the market to buy any flour, continued to head back to town on the opposite bank.

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On the right-hand side of the river is Lollycocks Field, a 5.5 acre nature reserve. The unusual name is thought to derive from the fact that it was once used for raising turkeys (lollycocks). The pond was added in 1960 and is a lovely quiet spot for local fishermen.

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Crossing the footbridge near the sluice gate we returned to the Navigation Wharf via the East Banks and were pleased to find a proper coffee machine in the licensed café in the National Centre for Design and Craft where we sat in the sunshine, enjoying a piece of cake and a decent flat white. Always nice to end a walk with cake!

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Footbridge across to the Barge and Bottle Pub

Source: Sleaford Riverside Historic Heritage Trail leaflet and Cogglesford Watermill leaflet.

IF YOU ENJOY A WALK, LONG OR SHORT, THEN HAVE A LOOK AT JO’S SITE WHERE YOU ARE WELCOME TO JOIN IN WITH HER MONDAY WALKS.