I was very pleased to be able to visit the city of Lincoln at the beginning of October to view ongoing work on Lincoln Castle as it gears up to re-opening fully in time for the Magna Carta 800 celebrations next year. Lincoln has one of only four surviving original 1215 Magna Cartas.
Some £22 million is being spent on the castle to create a ‘Lincoln Castle Revealed’ experience. As part of this, a new vault is being built to house the Magna Carta alongside the related 1217 Charter of the Forest, which will be the only place where the documents can be seen side to side. The castle was begun in 1068 by William the Conqueror and has seen various additions over the centuries including a Debtors Prison in 1787 and the Crown Court in 1820. The castle walls are being opened up to create a complete circuit for the first time, and I was able to walk part of this route on a rather wet day as part of a hard-hat tour with Jessica Marshall, Tourism Development Officer at Lincolnshire County Council. Major additions to the prison were made in the 19th centry to reflect the ‘separate system’, which denied inmates any human contact, and the Victorian building is the most complete survivor of this style. Once the project is finished, visitors will be able to explore inside the cells.
After a lovely lunch at the Castle Hotel’s Reform Restaurant, it was on to Lincoln Cathedral for a guided floor and roof tour. This beautiful building was also built by William the Conqueror and it was reputedly the tallest building in the world for over 200 years between the 14th and 16th centuries. My guide, David Mason, gave me a very interesting tour around the interior, where we were lucky enough to see a wedding taking place, before we ventured within the walls to climb up to the roof and explore the unseen areas of the building above ground, which gave a brilliant insight into the structure of the building and how it has been adapted over the years. Groups are able to arrange private tours suited to their individual needs.
The next morning I visited nearby 17th century Doddington Hall & Gardens to explore the grounds. The tranquil gardens provided a lovely end to the trip, and I was also able to look around the very extensive farm shop and enjoy lunch in the cafe. Groups are very welcome for exclusive visits outside normal hours.