Today I want to share with you the lovely city of Lincoln. This was our third day in the Midlands of England, and we spent each day visiting a nearby town or estate (as in the case of Chatsworth). The country here was lovely – with rolling hills and meadows and quaint towns tucked into the valleys or along the slopes of higher hills. We often saw sheep and hay bales as we rode the train to and from our destinations. Lincoln was my favorite city of the ones we visited – it was immensely beautiful and full of charm.
Here are some pictures I took as we arrived and meandered around. Flower shops popped up on the street corners and in tiny alleyways.
One of my favorite shops there was this cheese shop with an adorable name. We slipped inside to nibble on some samples before heading to the cathedral (you knew there would be a cathedral in this post, right?) The cathedral is at the top of a very steep hill and the main street going up to the cathedral is appropriately (and unimaginatively) called Steep Street. In fact, it has railings along the sidewalks so you can keep your step going up and down – and no car traffic allowed.
Now because I’ve already had several posts of cathedrals, I didn’t want to bore you with another slew of pictures that might all start to look the same. So today I’m going to show you Lincoln Cathedral from a different angle. However, because this was one of my favorite cathedrals, there might be a post later on to reveal more of the magnificence of this beautiful edifice. But for today, I’m going to take you on a tour of Lincoln Cathedral that my mom and I went on – the Rooftop Tour!
This 2-hour tour took us up dizzying heights to see parts of the cathedral that mere mortals don’t even dream of (maybe I exaggerate a bit). At each cathedral we visited, we did something unique – a tour or a service – so that we experienced each place more intimately and individually than just as a generic tourist. One of our first stops on the Rooftop Tour was the Bell Ringers Tower. This was a lovely room filled with nostalgia, old pictures, displays, and of course… the bells. The cording hanging from the ceiling above each connects to one of the bells. And that cool looking door in the back – yep – we got to go through that door and up circling stone staircases.
I’m not going to lie – I found crawling through the passageways and up the staircases immensely fascinating and satisfying. You got to feel the character of the place by seeing behind the walls. This is up on the roof top – so at this point we are above the cathedral and walking along the roof join. We could look over the railings and see the back, uncarved portions of stone that formed the arches in the main cathedral below.
At a few times during the tour we’d find ourselves ducking through an old wooden arched door and finding ourselves out on a roof parapet with breathtaking views – both of the town below and of unusual vantage points of the cathedral.
Then we’d duck inside through another door and file through narrow stone passages up and down stairs, passing tiny windows like this one. Occasionally our guide would stop us to show us a bit of interesting “Cathedral life” – like this photo below.
This is actually a peep hold into the atrium of the cathedral down below. The grating can be removed and during official remembrances of war, poppy confetti is sometimes blown down the hole to rain into the cathedral. Some remnants of poppy petals remain from the last service – which I think was to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ending of WW1.
Then we’d be on our way again until we’d burst out of another door. Every time, I’d gasp with amazement at where we’d end up.
Like this amazing view looking down the length of the church to the quire (where the stone wall is about 2/3 back) and the high alter beyond that. If you look carefully you can see the chandeliers suspended below us. And look at all the layers of carved arches!! Oh, my heart was beating wildly (and not just from how high up we were).
We also had a bird’s eye view into the of the private chapels. This one is in honor of the fallen soldiers of England – most of the branches of service have their own chapels and hang their regiment flags there.
Eventually the tour ended and we found ourselves back on ground level. For reference, we were able to go as high up as the rose stained glass at the top of the arch. There’s a narrow passageway that runs the width of the arch at the base of the stained glass.
There was a lot to see on the ground level too.
Remember me mentioning Sir Joseph Banks during the Kew Gardens post? He was a famed naturalist and botanist who accompanied James Cook on his explorations. His collections helped found the British Museum (so you’ll be hearing me talk more about him later too) and he founded Kew Gardens. Lincoln Cathedral was his church and this monument was erected in honor of his legacy. When asked his favorite view in England, he replied it was the inside of the Lincoln Cathedral.
One of the sweetest memories in this cathedral was the way the sun illuminated the interior.
When the sun came out from the clouds and hit the stained glass, it painted abstract reflections from the glass over the columns and floors of the cathedral. In those few moments, I felt I understood better what heaven will be like. The light felt alive in this place.
It also created glorious sun rays that looked like halos. The time spent here at Lincoln Cathedral felt reverent and worshipful.
Here’s a glimpse of the cathedral from the outside – some restoration work was ongoing to re-carve areas that had been weathered away. The sandstone is very soft and the carvings have to be sharpened and cleaned to be preserved.
Here are a few more pictures of the city from our walk back:
A tea shop had an Alice in Wonderland tea display in the front windows – I was enchanted!
We passed by a charming bookstore.
And a view down one of the streets.
It was an enthralling day spent exploring behind the walls, up the towers, and on the roofs of a beautiful cathedral, and all the streets and alleways of a quintessential English country town.
Blessings to you,