Over the last year or more, Lincoln Castle has undergone a rather extensive transformation as millions of pounds have been spent on the buildings and grounds to restore and develop this incredibly important historical artefact and encourage lots more visitors to come and learn about what went on within its walls.
The grounds are now open to the public, which means I’ve had the pleasure of wandering through them many times since the work was finished, but I had not been inside since it was complete (in fact it’s been several years – see this post from 2010). Earlier on in the week LincsGeek and I decided to be tourists in our own city and go and take a look.
Naturally our afternoon out began with lunch. We chose Bunty’s Tea Room, one of the best in the city in my opinion – we had soup and sandwiches and a couple of huge slices of home made cake. And tea, of course, mine was the Bunty’s Blend, which was a strong and refreshing tea.
Lincoln Castle is split into several parts now; there’s the Wall Walk, the Victorian Prison and Chapel, and the Magna Carta Vault. If you buy a ticket for all of it (£12) you can also join one of the guided tours around the grounds, given by a Lincoln Castle volunteer. Our guide, Penny, relayed stories of the people who lived in the Castle, the battles that took place there (very significant to the history of our country), and explained the different things we were looking at with great knowledge. The tour was just 45 minutes long and so easy to fit in even if you only have a couple of hours to explore.
It is now possible to walk around the whole Castle perimeter on the Wall Walk, which offers some brilliant views of Lincoln and Lincolnshire. We were pretty lucky with the skies considering the weather we’ve been having recently, and could see a long way into the distance. The best views are naturally of the Cathedral, which dominates the skyline here and sits proud on top of the hill. I couldn’t help but take loads of photographs – Lincoln is a beautiful place.
When on the Wall Walk make sure you make the effort to go right down to the bottom of Cobb Hall (via a stone staircase and then a wooden ladder – careful!), which was the dungeon used as prisoners were readied for the gallows on the top overlooking the city. The ceilings are vaulted suggesting it was also once a Chapel, and it is quite eerie with the old ironwork where prisoners would have been tied up still in place. The little slitted windows offer glimpses of the Cathedral.
Inside the Castle grounds you have the Victorian Prison, which includes the only remaining example of a “separate system” Chapel in the world. The prison has been opened up so you can see both the men’s and women’s sides, and the cells have been kitted out with furniture so you can see what it might have been like. Very interesting stuff.
Finally, the Magna Carta Vault offers visitors the opportunity to see one of only four remaining originals of the 800-year-old charter that is still considered important today. The Lincoln copy of the Charter of the Forest, much more important to the common man than Magna Carta, is also here. Both are actually owned by the Cathedral but are housed in the Castle so they can be seen by the public. You won’t be able to see these documents together anywhere else in the world so that’s a pretty good reason to visit on its own.
If you’ve ever in the area, Lincoln Castle is definitely worth a visit. It costs £12 for the full ticket, and you can easily spend half a day wandering around the different exhibits. Well done Lincoln Castle, you’re looking rather splendid!