An opportunity to spend a few days away presented itself this Whitsun week so a trip was planned that took us north on the eastern side of the country, visiting first Lincoln, then on to Scarborough before returning south to Rutland Water. Locations were chosen for historical and ornithological reasons, coming together in an itinerary that was both relaxing and stimulating.
We had been recommended to stay at The White Hart Hotel in the centre of Lincoln, the charm and aspect of which set the trip off to a great start. Spring rain made for a damp afternoon on our arrival, but being such a rarity for a number of weeks, provided a pleasure in itself, the flagstones on Steep Hill glistening in the watery light. We descended the winding, ancient street in search of the renowned Cheese Shop (closed) and a spot of afternoon tea. Refreshed, we retraced our steps, the ascent broken in stages by pauses at the sweet emporium and a second-hand bookshop – all must and eccentricity. Ducking into the cathedral to avoid the rain we absorbed the history of this magnificent building with its vaulted ceilings, intricate stone work and illuminated windows, capturing a taste of the permanence and majesty that its architects sought in it’s construction the best part of a millennium ago.
The first cathedral was completed in 1092 under Remigus, set across from the imposing castle in a demonstration of state and church power as the Normans sought to demonstrate control over the country on this strategic hill-top.
You enter the cathedral through Exchequergate and then the West Front, the Romanesque arches remaining from the original building. Passing into the Knave the eye is immediately drawn up into the high airy space. The Early English Gothic pointed arches and numerous lancet windows streaming light into the space made for an impressive sight and juxtaposed with the norm of mediaeval life would have been awe-inspiring to visitors.
At the head of the Knave stands the early 14th Century choir screen which divides the public from the clergy, North and South transcepts stretching left and right. Passing through the screen you are entering the religious inner sanctum and the decorative panelling in the choir stalls extends to enclose the high alter with the immense stained glass of the East front behind it.
A door to the north leads to the cloister and chapter-house where the fine gothic architecture continues, enclosing the space and creating a peaceful and reverent atmosphere.