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Lincoln Cathedral

Lincoln, Lincolnshire

Location Guide

For over 200 years from 1300 to 1549 it was the tallest building in the world, but the central spire collapsed and was not rebuilt. Today its Britain's third largest cathedral.

Earlier cathedrals on this site have been destroyed by fire and an earthquake. Towers collapsed or blown down by wind.

Image by Chris McKenna

Click any smaller image to sea a larger one

Its full name is The Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lincoln, or sometimes St. Mary's Cathedral

Picture by Steve Cadman


William the Conqueror ordered the first cathedral to be built in Lincoln, in 1072. Before that, St. Mary's Church in Lincoln was a mother church but not a cathedral, and the seat of the diocese was at Dorchester Abbey in Dorchester-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. Lincoln was more central to a diocese that stretched from the Thames to the Humber. Bishop Remigius built the first Lincoln Cathedral on the present site, finishing it in 1092 and then dying two days before it was to be consecrated on May 9 of that year.

About fifty years later, most of that building was destroyed in a fire. Bishop Alexander rebuilt and expanded the cathedral.

It was destroyed by an earthquake about forty years later, in 1185. After the earthquake, a new bishop was appointed. The new bishop was St Hugh of Lincoln, originally from Avalon, France, he began a massive rebuilding and expansion programme. Rebuilding began at the east end of the cathedral, with an apse and five small radiating chapels. The central nave was then built in the Early English Gothic style. Lincoln Cathedral soon followed other architectural advances of the time - pointed arches, flying buttresses and ribbed vaulting were added to the cathedral. This allowed the creation and support of larger windows.

The cathedral is the 3rd largest in Britain (in floor space) after St Paul's and York Minster, being 484ft by 271ft. It is Lincolnshire's largest building and until 1549 the tower was the tallest medieval tower in Europe. Accompanying the cathedral's large bell, Great Tom of Lincoln, is a quarter-hour striking clock. The clock was installed in the early 19th century.

Click on smaller images to see larger versions

Image from Wikipedia

In either in 1237 or 1239 the main tower collapsed. A new tower was soon started and in 1255 the Cathedral petitioned Henry III to allow them to take down part of the town wall to enlarge and expand the Cathedral, including the rebuilding of the central tower and spire. They replaced the small rounded chapels (built at the time of St Hugh) with a larger east end to the cathedral. This was to handle the increasing number of pilgrims to the Cathedral, who came to worship at the shrine of Hugh of Lincoln. Between the years 1307 and 1311 the central tower was raised to its present height of 83m (271 feet). The western towers and front of the cathedral were also improved and heightened.

At this time, a tall lead-encased wooden spire topped the central tower but was blown down in a storm in 1549. With its spire, the tower reputedly reached a height of 525 feet (which would have made it the world's tallest structure, surpassing the Great Pyramid of Giza, which held the record for almost 4,000 years). Other additions to the cathedral at this time included its elaborate carved screen and the 14th century misericords, as was the Angel choir. For a large part of the length of the cathedral, the walls have arches in relief with a second layer in front giving the illusion of a passageway along the wall. However the illusion does not work, as the stonemason, copying techniques from France, did not make the arches the correct length needed for the illusion effect.

Plan of cathedral, click on the plan
 to see a larger version

In 1290 Eleanor of Castile died. As his Queen Consort of England, King Edward I decided to honour her with an elegant funeral procession. After embalming, which in the thirteenth century involved evisceration (organ removal), Eleanor's viscera were buried in Lincoln Cathedral, and Edward placed a duplicate of the Westminster tomb there. The Lincoln tomb's original stone chest survives, its effigy was destroyed in the 17th century and replaced with a 19th-century copy. On the outside of Lincoln Cathedral are two prominent statues often identified as Edward and Eleanor, but these images were heavily restored in the 19th century and probably were not originally intended to depict the couple.

Magna Carta

The Bishop of Lincoln was one of the signatories to the Magna Carta and for hundreds of years the Cathedral has held one of the four remaining copies of the original. It now resides in the nearby Lincoln Castle, where it is on permanent display. There are three other surviving copies, two at the British Library and one at Salisbury Cathedral.

Image from Wikipedia

Although this cathedral can be seen from some distance the best view of it is from the air, take a look at the Multimap  3D birds eye view, one of the best views I have seen. 4 views to see all sides.

Location: Lincoln Cathedral, Lincoln

Grid Reference: SK978717 Ceremonial County: Lincolnshire

Map Link:   Multimap

Aerial photo: Multimap

Multimap  3D birds eye view, one of the best views I have seen. 4 views to see all sides.

Getting there:

Website: Own, you can click on a link lower right of website to get out of the flash system to a normal system.
Other Useful Websites: wiki 
Email: visitors@lincolncathedral.com
Address: The Chapter Clerk, 4 Priorygate, Lincoln
Postcode: LN2 1PL Telephone: 01522 561600

Opening Times:


Weekdays 7.15 am - 8.00 pm  and Saturdays and Sundays 7.15 am - 6.00 pm

Medieval and Wren libraries during the summer months


Weekdays and Saturdays 7.15 am - 6.00 pm and Sundays 7.15 am - 5.00 pm

Charges: Adults 4.00, Children (5 -16) 1.00. Children under 5 Free. Concessions 3.00

Photography for own use free, otherwise check for permission/cost.

Nearby Locations:  Roman remains, Norman castle

Other Location Pages:

List of all Anglican cathedrals and other major Anglican churches in the UK

Abbey section, including all major Christian buildings, regions orders, normal layouts and history.


No restrictions on photography are specified, it says that photography for your own use is free.


Page Ref: Lincoln_Cathedral

Classification: Abbeys (incl. all Christian buildings)

Date Updated: 09/2008

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