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Lincoln Cathedral - Interior

an all-round Masterwork









It is only in the last couple of centuries that permanent pews and moveable chairs, often made from depressing light absorbing dark brown wood, have filled church naves in Europe.  Originally everyone stood, and these unique covered spaces were also used for other activities such as markets.  Here is a rare (2007) look at a magnificent chairless medieval cathedral space.  Even better (other churches please note), there are no ugly stacks of chairs spoiling the effect.




Thanks to Bill Theyer for enabling this - follow this link to find the clickable version




This "Scala" book is cover priced (2014) at 15 / U$ 24.95

yet for some reason is selling on Amazon for much much more (June 2014) ...

try the cathedral bookshop for a better deal!



West Face


North Face



The Lincoln Cathedral font (second half of the 1100s) is made from a black carboniferous limestone sourced in Tournai (France), which was finished by waxing and polishing. This gives it the appearance of black marble.  If you want more of a country seaside experience, there is a very similar font a bit further north in St Lawrence, Thornton Curtis.


Link to Paradoxplace Baptismal Fonts page



East Face



South Face


Walking slowly up the nave to enjoy the brilliant blues of the stained glass lancet widows on the south side.


As with most English cathedrals, the full vista of the nave and choir is blocked  - in this case by organ pipes set in dark wood which should be somewhere else!  However, the 1200s carved stone screen below the pipes is breath-takingly beautiful.  Long before the days of the present organ, Wiliam Byrd (1543 - 1623 (80)), the greatest of the early English composers, was the organist of Lincoln Cathedral.  So great was Bird that he (and Thomas Tallis) occupies a place in the final section of our "Artists of the Italian Renaissance" page.







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The Lincoln screen is full of wonderful little people - here is a fellow thought to be a mason on the cover of a book about medieval masons.


And below are two bishops and friends ......







Great Transept (South) with choir screen on the left.  In the distance is the Bishop's Eye window.

The entry door in the distant right leads to the medieval women and visitor friendly Galilee porch.



Bishop's Eye Window



The "Bishop's Eye Window".  The rose which is there now dates from 1330 when the original 1220 job (including stone tracery) was redone.  It's got some beautiful glass colours - particularly if you see it on a day when the sun is out and in the south.  Over the centuries any narrative meaning it may have had has gone as glass has been patched up / replaced (see photo of detail below) - so just look on it as a rather beautiful coloured-in stone tracery pattern!  Notice also the beautiful "Picardie Blue" in the right hand lancet window underneath which at a guess is also an old survivor!



Bishop's Eye Window - detail



At the other (north) end of the Great Transept is the much more special and recently restored Dean's Eye Window, which still has its original 1220s design and quite a bit of original glass.  More photos on our 2007 revisit page.


Dean's Eye Window - Link to more photos




Detail from Great Eastern Window



Standing in the choir and looking east towards the high altar (above) and west to the choir, organ pipes and crossing (below).






postcard photo


A bolt (= an arrow equivalent fired by a cross-bow) penetrates a knight's back and he falls from his horse in one of the Lincoln misericords.



In the north east corner is the base of the Head Shrine of Saint Hugh - Bishop of Lincoln under the early Plantagenets in the 1100s.  The reliquary with Hugh's head and other bits and pieces, and the other riches from his shrine, disappeared into the saddlebags of Henry VIII's lads in the late 1530s.  The modern sculptural additions to the base are really dramatic and interesting -  which is more than can be said for most modern cathedral "improvements"!


Saint Hugh, originally a Carthusian monk from Avalon, near Grenoble, was the Bishop of Lincoln from 1186 to 1200 during the reigns of the bad tempered founder of the Plantagenet Dynasty Henry II (1133-1154-1189 (56)) (whose Queen Consort was Eleanor of Aquitaine (c1122 - 1204 (82)), and their sons - the nasty but largely absent Richard I (1157-1189-1199 (42)) and the deprived ('Lacklands") and nasty loser John (1167-1199-1216 (49)) - the one who got magna cartared (and was buried in Worcester Cathedral).  Hugh left behind a reputation as a humble and gentle man who "cared for the poor and protected the Jews" in the midst of a generally uncaring and violent society.


Eleanor was a popular name for Plantagenet queens.  King John's son Henry III (1207-1216-1272 (65)) married Eleanor of Provence, and their son Edward I ("Longshanks") (1239-1272-1307 (68)) married Eleanor of Castile. 




Visceral Tomb of Queen Eleanor of Castile (Victorian reconstruction)



It was Queen Eleanor of Castile (c1240 - 1290 (50)), who died at nearby Harby on 28 November 1290, whose entrails were buried in a so-called visceral tomb opposite Saint Hugh in the south east end of the Cathedral, whilst her body undertook the slow journey south to Westminster Abbey.  This subsequently resulted in the erection by her grieving King Edward I of  the famous stone "Eleanor Crosses" at each of the cortege's overnight stopping points between Lincoln and London.




The stopping points were Lincoln, Grantham, Stamford, GEDDINGTON, HARDINGSTONE (Northampton), Stony Stratford, Woburn, Dunstable, St Albans, WALTHAM, West Cheap (= Cheapside), and Charing.  Much restored crosses still exist at the towns written in capitals.  Finally, Eleanor's heart went to the Dominicans (the Black Friars) in, you guessed, Blackfriars (London) and her bones, later reunited with those of her husband, ended up in Westminster Abbey.


The visceral tomb in Lincoln (photo above) was defaced and smashed by O.Cromwell's men, but the one there now is an exact copy of the original, and the missing gisant has been replaced with an (ungilded) copy of its original sister still in in Westminster Abbey.  On the side of the tomb are the arms of England, Ponthieu (Eleanor was Countess of Ponthieu, part of the Duchy of Normandy), and Leon-Castile (her dad was the first king of both Leon and Castile). 


The original gisant (effigy) on top was made by master William Torel, who actually made two - one for Westminster Abbey (below) and one for Lincoln - the surviving Westminster bronze, cast in one piece, is now one of the earliest surviving large scale bronzes in England.  It is recorded that 350 gold florins were purchased from the merchants of Lucca for the gilding.


This photo comes from Edward I - A Great and Terrible King" by Marc Morris

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For over 200 years (presumably till jolly Henry VIII closed Westminster Abbey down in the 1530s and nicked all their assets) "dole" money was handed out by the almoners of Westminster Abbey to the poor on each anniversary of Queen Eleanor's death - 28 November.


Link to Westminster Abbey website - tombs of King Edward I and Queen Eleanor of Castile


Overlooking all of this, nestling in the spandrel area between the two arches high above St Hugh's shrine, is the famous "little" Lincoln Imp - a petrified devil as legend would have it.







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