A major financial hub in the medieval era, Lincoln has changed with the times. Now home to the University of Lincoln, which The Complete University Guide has ranked as one of the Top 50 universities in the UK, the city has seen much commercial and development growth in the last fifty years. Proud of the bright future ahead of itself, Lincoln is not a city to forget its equally glorious past. Named Lindum Colonia by the Romans, Lincoln was a Roman Legionary Fortress either during or after Nero’s reign. For a period of between ten to fifteen years, Lincoln was a strategic location for the Roman soldiers until their operations were transported to York circa 71 AD. Due to the high elevation of its peak and its access into the east of England via the River Witham, Lincoln was a perfect location for the army to settle and an inconvenience for their enemies.
After the Romans left the colony, the city slowly regained prominence over a period of a few hundred years. Over this time, Lindum Colonia was spliced into Lincoln, and was regarded as a major city for trade and religion. By 1068, at the behest of William the Conqueror, Lincoln Castle was established in the same location that was previously settled by the Romans. As a bustling metropolis of the middle ages, Lincoln was one of the major cities dubbed important enough to be provided with an original Magna Carta (then simply named The Charter of Liberties). The city still retains its 1215 Magna Carta, now on permanent loan from Lincoln Cathedral.
Across Castle-Cathedral Square, Lincoln Cathedral stands at the opposite end from the castle. Twenty years after William the Conqueror commissioned Lincoln Castle, Remigius de Fécamp, first Bishop of Lincoln, laid the foundations of the Cathedral. An infrastructure that has withstood the myriad tests of time, its original construction was completed in 1092. In 1141 the timber roofing was destroyed in a fire, and in 1185, after being rebuilt and expanded by then-Bishop Alexander, it was mostly destroyed by a considerable earthquake. Following the earthquake, a new Bishop was appointed in Lincoln. Hugh de Burgundy of Avalon began a massive rebuilding and expansion program to the Cathedral. Pointed arches, flying buttresses, and ribbed vaulting were added to the exterior and interior. The stunning stained glass works, titled the Dean’s Eye and Bishop’s Eye respectively, were added during the late Middle Ages. While all these additions were made, in 1237 the main tower collapsed. Seventy years following maintenance work on the collapsed tower, the tower was raised to its present height of 83 meters. A wooden spire was added to the Cathedral, making it the world’s tallest building from 1300 to 1549.
Heading back into the Square, I continued my way up along Bailgate Road. Across from the White Hart Hotel stood my next destination. Lindum Books, an independent bookstore, is an absolute treasure. Selling both new and secondhand books, Lindum Books introduces its customers to unique authors with author readings and meet and greet events. The back of the first floor was a floor-to-ceiling beauty of children’s, YA, and classic novels. Two cosy armchairs sat in the corner, a bright carpet welcoming people to set themselves on it and lose themselves in some literature. Upstairs, two rooms are organised chaos of pre-loved books. Crime, War, and Biography were to the left, with Fiction, Poetry, and How-To books to the right. Both rooms provide seating. In the realm of Fiction, a quaint window seat offers a view of the White Hart and the street below. Specifically looking for Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan, I asked the kind cashier if the book was in stock. While it was not on the shelves, fortunately the bookstore was going to receive an order of books the next day. Ordering the Asian-American work, I prepaid for the novel and left in happy spirits.
Heading down the aptly named Steep Hill, I passed quaint shops and cute restaurants en route to the city centre. Meeting my friend at Coffee Aroma, poster-covered walls and soft lightning creates a welcome aura. Photographs of customers line the walls of the first floor and staircase. An adorable miniature dinosaur guards the tip mug from potential pickpockets. The barista, a middle-aged man with a fierce beard and a warm smile, cheerily arranged my order of a boozy hot chocolate (a shot of cherry brandy enhancing every sip with a subtle line of cherry flavour) and three perfectly prepared macaroons. We sat on the second floor, where a wall of notes and drawings from customers was a burst of visual brilliance, thought-provoking words and hilarious jokes. While finishing my purchase, my eyes wandered around the room. Comfortable armchairs, entertaining board games, and a beautiful mural of Lincoln Cathedral’s courtyard on the ceiling made it difficult to leave the coffee shop.
After finishing our drinks, we headed outside. With much of the day still in our hands, we walked along a majestic stretch of water named Fossdyke Navigation. Canal boats rested on our left, gently bobbing on the river. Trees and overgrown bushes were to our right, charming birds tweeting their hellos. Passing by joggers, bicyclists, and even horseback riders, we took our time, surrounded by nature in a place where time seemed to slow down. We reached the Pyewipe Inn, our final stop of the day. Sitting on a picnic table outside, the river flowed beside us as we ate our shared order of fish and chips. Golden, crisp, and evenly battered, the fish was absolutely delicious. The chips, uniform in size and length, were incredibly more-ish. We were both glad for the walk back, if only to have something to do to stave off a food coma.
The day done and much accomplished, we agreed that Lincoln was a wonderful day out.