12 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Lincoln, England
Lincoln, the county town of Lincolnshire, is one of the finest of England's old historic cities. It lies on the River Witham and is dominated by its magnificent hilltop cathedral, one of the largest in England. It also boasts many handsome medieval houses, remains of Roman town gates and Norman fortifications. Indeed, it was the Normans who made the biggest mark on Lincoln, leaving behind both the castle and the cathedral.
Lincoln was described in the famous Domesday Book as a prosperous town with a sizable population, and its office of mayor, established in 1206, is the oldest in Britain. Following its integration into the railroad network in 1846, Lincoln became a center of the iron and steel industry. While manufacturing is still important, it's today best known for its beautifully preserved historic buildings.
1 Lower Town
Lincoln's busy modern lower town forms a striking contrast with the peaceful and picturesque old town around the cathedral. Starting from the High Street, the first church is St Peter-at-Gowts with its Saxon tower. A short distance away St Mary's Guildhall (1190), a fine example of Norman secular architecture, was originally a royal storehouse then a guildhall with Roman excavations.
In Akrill's Passage, visitors can see a notable 15th century half-timbered house and the church of St Mary-le-Wigford in early English style with a Saxon tower. The St Mary's Conduit was built in the 16th century with stone from a Carmelite friary. The High Street continues under the Stonebow, the 15th century medieval south town gate with the Guildhall, the great council chamber, on the floor above it.
Location: High St, Lincoln
2 Brayford Waterfront
The Brayford Waterfront consists of the city's former inland port (known as the "Pool") and is fed by the River Witham, spanned by the High Bridge (1160). In the 18th and 19th centuries it was an important handling center for agricultural products, and today the old warehouses have been turned into hotels and restaurants catering to visitors amid the many moored yachts and canal boats
From the south side there's a splendid view of the cathedral, and Brayford Wharf North is home to the fascinating National Cycle Museum.
Location: Brayford Pool, Lincoln
3 Lincoln Cathedral
This spectacular Anglo-Norman building, started in 1088, is one of the most visited cathedrals in England. Its triple-aisled interior is impressive for the length and size of its two transepts, and for the contrasting colors of its honey-colored limestone and dark Purbeck marble. Also of note is the round window known as the Eye of the Deacon with its medieval stained glass, as well as the Eye of the Bishop with pieces of glass from different periods. A wrought-iron gate leads to St Hugh's Choir, one of the best examples of Early-Gothic architecture in England. Another unique feature is the Lincoln Imp. According to legend, the imp so annoyed the angels in the choir it was turned to stone. The cathedral's imposing twin towered west front is a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic styles, its central frieze-like sculpture depicting scenes from the Old Testament including Noah's Ark, Daniel in the Lion's Den, as well as dragons.
Be sure to visit the historic Chapterhouse along with picturesque Lincoln Cathedral Close with its remains of the Old Bishop's Palace, Cantilupe Chantry and Vicar's Court. A monument commemorates the poet Lord Tennyson who was born nearby in Somersby in 1809. Finally, be sure to visit the medieval Bishop's Palace, an English Heritage property that stands in the cathedral's shadow.
Location: Minster Yard, Lincoln
4 Upper Town
It's in the Upper Town area that you'll find the most interesting of Lincoln's medieval roots. At the foot of Steep Hill are the Jew's House, a Norman stone building from about 1170 (now a restaurant), and the adjoining Jew's Court, the remains of a former synagogue from the end of the 12th century.
Lincoln's old merchant's houses are also worth visiting: Harding House (16th century); the half-timbered Harlequin, a former 16th century inn; and Aaron's House, a Norman secular building from 1150.
Location: Steep Hill, Lincoln
5 Lincoln Castle
On Castle Hill is the entrance to mighty Lincoln Castle, built by William the Conqueror after an entire quarter of the town had been cleared in 1068. In the southwest of the grounds stands the 12th century keep, known as Lucy Tower, and in the northeast corner is Cobb Hall, a horseshoe shaped bastion from the 1st century, and excellent views of the city can be had from the Observatory Tower.
The town's archives in the Old Prison contain a presentation of the Magna Carta from 1215, preserved in the cathedral as one of four existing copies.
Location: Castle Hill, Lincoln
To the north of Lincoln Castle is Bailgate, the center of the ancient Roman town. Circles mark the positions of the Roman columns and in the cellar of No. 29, the Roman House, are the remains of an old Roman basilica. St Paul's stands on the site of the church built by St Paulinus, who brought Christianity to Lincoln in 627 AD. At the north end of Bailgate is the Newport Arch, one of two 1st century Roman town gates in the city, and considered the best preserved in England. A small section of Lincoln's Roman town walls can also be seen in East Bight, and the Collection - a museum in Broadgate - contains many Roman antiquities.
Location: Castle Hill, Lincoln
7 Museum of Lincolnshire Life
The Museum of Lincolnshire Life contains numerous exhibits pertaining to the region's rich and varied social history and culture from 1750 to the present. Exhibits illustrate commercial, agricultural, industrial and community life, with a star attraction being the country's oldest WWI era tank (the first such war machines were built nearby). The museum also houses the interactive galleries of the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment, and operates Ellis Mills, a working 18th century windmill.
Location: Burton Rd, Lincoln
8 RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight
The RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, part of No. 1 Group RAF, flies out of RAF Coningsby. Its aircraft are regularly seen at events commemorating WWII, as well as for state occasions, notably the Trooping the Colour celebrating Queen Elizabeth II's birthday, and at air displays. Of particular note is the last Hurricane to be built, a Spitfire V and the Lancaster bomber, City of Lincoln, all of which can be seen during the museum's fascinating hangar tours.
Location: Dogdyke Road, Coningsby
9 Tattershall Castle
Tattershall Castle was built in medieval times for Ralph Cromwell, Lord Treasurer of England. Its six-floor keep is a fine example of a fortified brick dwelling built around 1440. Be prepared to do some climbing: 150 steps lead from the basement to the battlements and magnificent views of the Lincolnshire countryside. Afterwards, explore the grounds, moats, bridges and neighboring church, also built by Ralph Cromwell.
Another nearby stately home to visit is Doddington Hall & Gardens, a privately owned late Elizabethan mansion with stunning gardens located just outside Lincoln. Completed in 1600, the home has never been sold.
Location: Sleaford Rd, Tattershall
10 Whisby Nature Park
Located just seven miles southwest of Lincoln, Whisby Nature Park is home to plenty of wildlife in its 160 acres of lakes, ponds, woodland, scrub and grassland. For a wonderful day's exploring and sightseeing, follow the pathways and trails past Grebe Lake, beyond Orchid Glade and past the Railway Pit into Nightingale Marsh and through the Dead Forest (filled with dead birch).
Location: Moor Lane, Thorpe-on-Hill
11 Woodhall Spa
Woodhall Spa, located near Sleaford some 18 miles south of Lincoln, was noted for the curative powers of its saline waters and is still popular amongst tourists. One of the earliest hotels in Woodhall Spa, which opened in 1882, still stands. As does the famous Kinema in the Woods, a WWII-era cinema that operates by projection from behind the screen.
Location: Coronation Rd, Woodhall Spa
Gainsborough, located 15 miles north of Lincoln, is a town with many interesting historical associations. King Alfred was married here in 868 AD, and the Danish king Sweyne died here in his camp in Thonock Park in 1014. During the Civil War the town was the scene of much fighting between Royalist and Parliamentary forces. The Old Hall, part of a medieval manor house, has a handsome roof and an old kitchen. Gainsborough also served writer George Eliot's model for St Ogg's in The Mill on the Floss. Some of the described places can still be identified. If possible, visit during the Gainsborough Riverside Festival, an annual arts and heritage event that runs on the second weekend in June.