Lincoln Cathedral is the Mother Church of the Diocese, the parish church of the County, a place of national heritage and a centre of international pilgrimage. It provides a space for God, a place for worship, praise and private prayer.
The Cathedral dates from 1072 when William the Conqueror instructed that the bishopric of this, then the largest diocese in England (covering the lands between the river Thames and the Humber), be moved from Dorchester, near Oxford, to Lincoln. The first Norman Bishop of Lincoln, Remigius, had previously been a Benedictine monk and a loyal supporter of William at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
Alexander "the Magnificent" (Bishop 1123-48) managed to partially restore the Norman Cathedral after a fire in around 1141. His contributions include commissioning the famous 12th century Romanesque frieze on the West Front.
In 1185 an earthquake caused structural damage that was repaired by St Hugh (Bishop 1186-1200) from 1192 onwards. In 1255 Henry III approved a petition by the Dean and Chapter to take down part of the Roman city wall to extend the Cathedral. This new Angel Choir was consecrated in 1280 and became an important centre for pilgrimage until the Reformation.
In the 14th Century the central tower and those of the West end were heightened, and all had spires until 1549 when that of the central tower blew down. With this spire Lincoln Cathedral had reputedly been the tallest building in the world, at 525 feet being 3 foot higher than the great pyramid! The weight of the remaining towers and their spires caused them to lean, until about 1730 when the architect James Gibb created a Narthex at the West end, whose cross walls strengthened their support. The spires were though eventually removed in 1807 for safety reasons, at which point the final form of the Cathedral that is still with us now was at last reached.
"I have always held and proposed against all comers to maintain that the Cathedral of Lincoln is out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles" - John Ruskin.
The nave is a huge public space with a tremendous feeling of light and space accentuated by the Victorian stained glass in its side windows. St Hugh's Choir is one of the earliest examples of English gothic style and is distinguished by the "crazy vaults" the first example of a tierceron vault.
Two magnificent rose windows light the great transept. The earliest is the Dean's Eye window in the north transept dating from 1220, still with much of its original mediaeval glass depicting the Last Judgement. It is currently undergoing major restoration. The Bishop's Eye window in the south transept is filled with flowing tracery from the decorated period c. 1330.
Also noteworthy is the library, one of only two designed by Wren, and built by Dean Honywood on the north side of the cloister c. 1674. It contains an extensive collection of books from the medieval period dating from a copy of the sermons of the Venerable Bede, which was made in the late 10th century, up to date, a span of some 1000 years.
Two love stories involving famous women are commemorated in the Cathedral. Katharine Swinford, mistress and then third wife of John of Gaunt, who died in 1403 is buried near the high altar and Queen Eleanor of Castile, wife of Edward 1st, who has a viscera tomb in the Angel Choir. She was so loved by the King that when she died in 1290 near Lincoln, he erected stone crosses wherever her coffin rested on its journey to London. The most famous of the Eleanor crosses is the replica at Charing Cross.
And last but not least is the famous Lincoln Imp - the little devil perched high in the Angel Choir overlooking St Hugh's shrine. He was turned to stone, according to the legend, by the angels because he caused mayhem in the Cathedral. He is now the symbol of the Lincolnshire and the Lincoln football team (the Imps).
Open 365 days a year.
Monday to Friday 7.15am - 8pm (in July & August; 6pm rest of year)
Saturday & Sunday 7.15am - 6pm
Floor and roof tours take place daily and on Saturday those with a head for heights can tour the tower. There is no additional charge for tours.
Monday to Saturday 11am & 2pm (1st March to 31st October)
11am, 1pm, 3pm (1st March to 31st October)
Saturday 12.15pm, 1.30pm & 3pm (May to September)
Please check our website for other periods as they are subject to change or telephone 01522 561600.
The Cathedral entry charge for school groups is £1 per child. No charge is made for accompanying adults. All pre-booked children's guided tours lasting one hour are at no additional cost. School trips may be booked by calling 01522 561600. See our website for further information.
There is no parking reserved for disabled visitors immediately adjacent to the Cathedral, although it is possible to drop off just outside the main entrance.
The Cloister Refectory offers home-cooked food, teas and coffees.
10am - 4.30pm
The Lincoln Minster shop offers a wide range of products and is situated in the former Consistory Court of Lincoln Cathedral. For further information please call 01522 561644.
Monday to Friday 1pm - 3pm
Saturday 11am - 3pm
Lincolnshire, LN2 1PL