Wednesday 28 January 2015

Back later

Another busy day.  I've managed another poem over on Dust in the Nettles and will be back later with more photos from Lincoln.


Ruskin said of Lincoln Cathedral:  "I have always held . . . that the Cathedral of Lincoln is out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles and roughly speaking worth any two other cathedrals we have."

The stunning West Front of the cathedral.  Building work began here in 1072, when William the Conquerer told Bishop Remigius to build him a Cathedral to keep his castle company.  Unfortunately after 20 years of building, there was a fire which destroyed the roof.  Worse was to come in 1185 when an earthquake split the cathedral from top to bottom.  Fortunately the West Front survived.

Whilst there are traditionally Norman chevron patterns around the doorway, there is a nod to late Anglo Saxon designs.

This shows particularly in the figures in the interlace below.

Anglo-Saxon sculpture around the Cathedral doorways.  Figures inhabiting vine scrolls.

Inside your eyes are raised to the soaring arches.

The black marble font (ordered from a quarry in Belgium at great expense) has Beasties which show the battle between good and evil.  Evil appears to be a dragon, with wings, scales and a belly like a Crocodile!  Good is represented by what could be a wolf-like animal, but it has curly locks on its neck so we will assume it to be a lion.  Not St Mark's lion, however, as that has wings . . .  Some slightly different "baddies" being sorted out on another face.

Below,  one of two superb 'Rose' windows.  The Dean's Window has its original panels, and faces North . . . he was lower down in the pecking order . . .  People believed that it looked north 'to keep out the dark deeds of the Devil.'

Whilst the Bishop had his stunning window facing South . . .  This faces the Dean's Window across the transept, and worshippers believed that it 'looked towards the sun to welcome in God's light and love.'  It was fitted around 1330, and the stone tracery looks like lace - showing the masons' craftsmanship.

The doorway at the right end of the Choir Screen.

The amazing Choir Screen with its intricate carvings (more photos of it in the next post).

A rather weird cross between a person and a beastie, playing a violin . . .  you can just make out traces of the original paint - red, and a little blue around his left elbow.

Possibly a Manticore (to the left) and his partner the other side of the ogee top of the doorway.  

If you look closely, you will see some naughty dragons coming out of hiding in the vine, to scoff the bunches of grapes.  Unfortunately they have been noticed and are being stabbed. . .

Here they are, dead and skinned and hung up for all to see (Imagery was widely understood by the poor people who attended church, but were illiterate.)  You can also see the beautiful rose carvings which were symbols of the Virgin Mary . . .

These were just my favourite carvings in the entire cathedral and I am sure they are Barn Owls.  They represent the dark and ignorance.  Or so says the guide book.  Our guide (for we had a guided tour) also mentioned that one visitor from South Africa had mentioned them eating souls.  That led me to think about Mary Webb's Sin Eaters (in 'Precious Bane').  In the Scriptures, however, the owl is associated with desolation. In the Bible, the Owl was one of the birds which was mentioned as unclean.  

More tomorrow (or when I have time over the weekend).


  1. So glad you enjoyed Lincoln - not only my home city but I also went to the Girls' High School which was very close to the cathedral, so spent a lot of time in there. My brother and his wife spent some years working there and it was very close to his heart. He is actually buried in the cloisters and each time I go there I visit the cloisters and put a flower on his grave. Nice to see the photographs and also to note that you negotiated Steep Hill!

  2. I like being busy, it keeps my hands away from snacks. I loved my visits to Lincoln but my "then home" city of Norwich was much easier to visit as I knew my way around. Now I have Cardiff, Swansea, Brecon, Llanelli et al on my doorstep to explore.

  3. Beautiful photos and cathedral. The rose windows are just wonderful and I love the barn owls. I really would love to visit Lincoln Cathedral and having seen your pictures its risen very near the top of my places to visit soon list!!!

  4. Absolutely stunning photos Jennie, we went a couple of years back in the cold, but I did not take many, would not mind another visit to see what you saw. Always thought of the pillars at the main door as 'barley sticks'

  5. thelma - yes : ) I think we would break our teefs on them though! I hope you can get another visit as it IS superb. I have now got cathedral-itis but our nearest is Gloucester or Hereford or perhaps St David's. . .

    R. Robin - the barn owls are so beautiful and I shall be on the look out for them in other cathedrals now, along with Green Men and Sheela na Gigs!!

    Pam - Ah, so you know that area well. I've always wanted to visit Norwich, but I don't think we could manage it from Sheffield (too dear probably).

    Pat - I was pleased at only stopping once on the way up Steep Hill. I was also DELIGHTED to find the blue plaque to T E Lawrence on one of the houses right at the top. He's one of my heroes.

  6. Hi BB

    Glad you had a good trip. My Great Aunt opened a bakery business in the late 1920s on Steep Hill and my Grandmother was rescued from a job in service in a boys school in Yorkshire by her older sister. Nan did the baking and my great aunt then gravitated to a hat shop, then a B & B Business then the Ivies in the village where my Nan lived, then a well known pub just outside of Lincoln latterly buying Wellingore Hall and turning it into flats for professional people. She built herself up from nothing (her first husband abandoned her with two children and no maintenance) so she set too and dug herself out of the precarious position she was in.

    My Dad was a chorister at Lincoln Cathederal from the age of 8 going to the Prep school and then he had to pass to go to the Grammar School - he could not be in the choir unless he got in. He was mentored by the Local Vicar. He only left when his voice broke when he was 18 (very late but that's how it happened for him). I think Lincoln is more beautiful than York. I particularly love the smaller side Chapels and the Angel Choir.

    Did you get to the Castle - my uncle lives in a house in what was the moat so come Christmas Fair we pop into see him.

    Hope you are keeping well.



  7. As you know my father flew in Lancasters during WWII. He was based at Scampton which is only about 8 miles or so from Lincoln and was on the flightpath both in and out on many occasions, The cathedral had a precious place in his heart. He always said he knew he was safe when he could see it again.

    Thanks for your wee tale and those photos.


  8. I have enjoyed this post so much. Lincoln is certainly my favourite cathedral and is so beautiful, inside and out. I visited so many times when my Mum`s family were in Lincoln and in nearby villages. Happy days!

    Alistair - my Mum`s first fiance flew in Lancasters from Scampton ( as a rear gunner) and was killed during the Peenamunde (sp?) Raid. I can imagine how wonderful it must have been for those returning from a night raid, to see Lincoln Cathedral in the distance, a beacon of safety and home.

  9. Ye Gods - 3rd time lucky - I have just lost TWO answers because Google is messing me around.

    DW - Fancy you and Alistair having a link to Lancaster bombers and Scampton. A small world. I am glad that this post has evoked so many happy memories for you (and many others it seems).

    Alistair - I shall re-read your posts about your dad's wartime exploits with a fresh eye now. Seeing how prominent Lincoln Cathedral was in the landscape (like a fist - no wonder the Normans felt compelled to put their mark on it by building the Cathedral) it's easy to see why it was such a welcome sight to returning bombers. Almost a physical hug.

    Pattypan - sadly we ran out of time to visit the castle (and see your uncle's house), but the doors were shut anyway, so I don't know if it was open at all. You have some very strong women in your family, especially your redoubtable
    great aunt. You obviously have such deep roots there and happy memories.