Lincoln Old Town - History and Facts | History Hit

Lincoln Old Town

Lincoln, England, United Kingdom

Peta Stamper

08 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Lincoln Old Town

Lincoln Old Town in England is the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Lincoln and is therefore home to Lincoln Cathedral. Construction of the Gothic style cathedral began in 1072 and continued throughout the middle ages as the city prospered through cloth trade with France.

Today, the half-timbered housing clustered around the Bailgate characterise Lincoln’s medieval town which offers opportunities to explore the city’s rich and long history.

Lincoln Old Town history

Lincoln Cathedral was built on the site besides a deep pool – now known as Brayford Pool – in the River Witham, at the foot of a large hill. Originally settled during the Iron Age, the Romans conquered this part of Britain in 48 BC and shortly after built a legionary fortress on the spot of the future cathedral.

In 1068, just two years after the Norman conquest, William I ordered Lincoln Castle built on the site of the former Roman settlement. The cathedral was also built shortly afterwards within a close facing the castle, completed in 1092.

The powerful Diocese of Lincoln had more monasteries than the rest of England combined, and Lincoln was one of the wealthiest towns in England. The basis of its economy was cloth and wool exported to Flanders. After the 1215 signing of the Magna Carta, one of four surviving copies was housed at Lincoln Castle. Famous bishops of Lincoln include Thomas Wolsey, Lord Chancellor for Henry VIII until he failed to negotiate Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon.

Lincoln’s medieval town was the site of a battle between King Stephen and Empress Matilda during the anarchy of 1141, with Stephen ultimately being defeated and captured. During the First Barons’ War, the city also got caught in conflict between the king and rebel barons, allied with the French.

The Dissolution of the Monasteries cut off a lot of Lincoln’s income and by the English Civil War, Lincoln had no major industry, with many buildings destroyed during the conflict. Lincoln boomed, however, during the Industrial Revolution, excelling in heavy engineering and steam locomotive building. The first tanks were built in Lincoln.

Lincoln Old Town today

Today, you can walk in the steps of past kings and bishops on a wall walk through the castle towers and Victorian prison, exploring Lincoln’s extensive history. Look up at the incredible Lincoln Cathedral nave before climbing up for stunning views of the city and surrounding Lincolnshire countryside.

To trace the city’s ancient heritage, follow the Roman Trail to see the remains of Lindum Colonia founded in the 1st century AD. See the inside of Lincoln Castle via guided tour before stopping at the gift shop and Langton’s Cafe.

Getting to Lincoln Old Town

Just off the A46, Lincoln is close to the A1 motorway on the east coast. Lincoln Station is only 18 minutes walk from the cathedral and links to London and the rest of the UK. There is plenty of central parking, including Castle Hill Pay and Display car park.

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