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Southwest Lincolnshire Country Houses
by Michael Ford, Country House Editor
LincolnDay 5 - Lincoln, the Cathedral City of Lincolnshire.
Lincoln was built on a hill and surveys all the surrounding countryside. It was the Roman legionary fortress of 'Lindum Colonia' and many Roman remains can still be seen today.
The stone Newport Arch, which was the northern gateway to the Roman town, is the only Roman arch in England through which traffic still passes. A 65ft length of stone wall thought to be part of the basilica is still in place and is up to 25ft high and 3ft thick. Tessellated pavements have been found indicating Lincoln's prosperity at that time. Of the other three gateways the remains of Eastgate can be seen in place while only a few fragments of Southgate and Westgate still exist.
The Romans also cut the Fossdyke Canal here to drain water from the land.
The Normans built Lincoln Castle in 1068 with the walls enclosing over six acres of hilltop. The main features are the Lucy Tower keep, the east and west gates, the Cobb Hall and the Observatory Tower.
The Castle is open daily for public viewing.
Lincoln Cathedral was initially built between 1072 and 1092 and is now the third largest cathedral in England after St. Pauls and York Minster. It is a magnificent building and can be seen for miles around. A major rebuild took place about 1200 for St. Hugh whose shrine can be seen inside. Two beautiful circular windows, the 'Bishop's Eye' and the 'Dean's Eye' are a spectacular feature and still have their medieval glass.
The Cathedral Close is no longer enclosed but remains of the original wall still exist from about 1300. The 14th century Exchequer Gate is complete, Potter Gate was restored in 1884, Priory Gate was erected on the sight of a medieval gatehouse in 1816 while the three other gates are no more. There are many interesting and original houses in the Close.
The Bishop's Palace was begun around 1163 and was rebuilt at the end of the 12th century.
The substantial ruins are in the care of English Heritage and may be visited from April to October daily.
The best medieval houses are the Norman House, Jews House and Jews Court and there are no better 12th century domestic dwellings in the whole country. All three are now shops and can be entered as such. There are many more medieval based houses of both stone with undercrofts and timber-framing to be seen.
Other buildings of historic interest are the ruins of Monk's Abbey which was founded in 1110 and dissolved in 1539, St. Mary's Guildhall built around 1170, Greyfriars the Franciscan friary founded about 1230 and now a museum, the 12th century Deloraine Court and the much restored and altered Stonebow Gate from the late 15th century and with a Guildhall above.
There are three ancient churches: St. Mary le Wigford and St. Peter at Gowts, both 11th century and St. Mary Magdelene built in the late 13th century.
One other unusual and important structure is the 12th century medieval High Bridge which is the oldest bridge in England carrying buildings, in this case 14th to 16th century shops.
NEXT STOP: Doddington Hall