13 October 2015

Lincoln

Lincoln Cathedral was the tallest building in the world for 238 years (1311–1549). In 1549, the massive central spire collapsed during a storm. If that spire had remained in situ, Lincoln Cathedral would have remained the tallest building in the world until 1890 when it would have been surpassed by Ulm Minster in Germany. With the spire, Lincoln Cathedral stood 525 feet above the ground - three feet taller than Egypt's Great Pyramid.
Medieval magnificence inside
Central tower that once held a soaring spire
What an incredible achievement by the builders! The resources involved would have been phenomenal. I don't think that there's any modern parallel in the world of construction. In 1311 there was no tubular scaffolding, no trucks to transport 70,000 tons of  dressed stone from distant quarries, no pneumatic hoists or builder's yards for the purchase of bags of cement and sand. Financially, the equivalent of billions of pounds must have been provided by the church establishment. Nobody knows how many men died during the cathedral's construction.

Yesterday, I caught the 9.44 train to Lincoln in order to undertake another country ramble. The walk took me past Brayford Pool, along The Foss Dyke and out into fertile arable land by dykes and ditches. I reached the village of South Carlton at two o' clock and spent a little time inside the church there but when I came out the blue skies of the morning were turning grey.
Joseph Banks Plaque in Lincoln Cathedral.
One of Lincolnshire's most influential sons.

I marched onwards to Burton-by-Lincoln and on the long path to Riseholme I met an elf. He was sitting under a tree with a can of lager - way out in the countryside. He had various gold piercings around his face and tattoos on his arms. He asked me if I had any tobacco but of course I am a committed non-smoker. I wanted to take a photo of him but revealing my camera might have been a temptation for him and I wasn't in the mood for wrestling with an elf.

From Riseholme across the A45 and back into Lincoln via the sprawling council estate of Ermine. By the time I reached the great cathedral it was five o'clock. Evening sunshine burst through the sky's grey canopy to illuminate the church's medieval magnificence. I stepped inside, surprised to avoid an admission charge. Beyond the rood screen, the choir were rehearsing, filling the void with an eerie harmonisation that swirled up to the vaulted stone ceiling above just as it would have done when medieval monks were the singers.

Back to Sheffield on the 18.24 train via Gainsborough, Worksop, Retford and Kiveton Park. A grand day out and another fourteen miles on my rambling mileometer.

The cathedral is visible for miles around.
Here I am viewing it from three miles away -
on Fen Lane, South Carlton.
Muscovy duck by Brayton Pool and
the cathedral looming beyond

23 comments:

  1. Awe inspiring, I often sit and wonder how they did it.
    Several years ago I enjoyed a series of historical novels set around medieval church building....I am not sure who wrote them but Ken Follet springs to mind.

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    1. "Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follet is great! I remember how, after I read it 10 or 12 years ago, I felt as if I could now build a cathedral on my own, I learned so much about the subject from that book.

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    2. I will look out for that book in "Oxfam" even though the name Ken Follett would have previously put me off.

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    3. YP, he is a proper writer. I think there are two or maybe three books in the series.

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    4. Two, as far as I know: "Pillars of the Earth" and "World Without End", which was also very good but said less about cathedral building and more about the mechanisms of economy, which I found fascinating, too.

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  2. Neil, this was a great walk, with or without pictures of tattooed elves.
    Thank you for mentioning Ulm Minster which, as you know, I have rather a soft spot for (if one can have a soft spot for something as magnificent and made of stone).
    Now you've made me want to go back to Ulm and climb up all the way into the "needle" again.

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    1. Occasionally it is possible to go to the top of Lincoln's central tower. Maybe one day I will be back. On a clear day the views would be incredible.

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  3. What a history that building has! Fires, storms, earthquakes, experimental building concepts, equality for girls, devil imps, ...... Beautiful pictures, Mr. Pudding. Lovely day you had.

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    1. I am glad to see you have been doing your homework young lady! There will be a test when you have finished gallivanting about in California!

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  4. I've had the same questions when I see ancient structures. Tremendous effort must have been required.

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    1. In these modern times our builders would be severely tested if they were asked to produce an exact copy of Lincoln Cathedral.In fact, I doubt that they could do it.

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  5. You've discovered our local secret, the admissions pack up at 4 . First thing in the morning you can also wander in to hear the choirs practice free

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    1. The best things in life are free aren't they Kate? Thanks for calling by with that useful tidbit.

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  6. Such history! Australia is a very young country in comparison...very young. Amazing workmanship...as you say an incredible achievement by the builders. One can not but be in awe.

    Thanks for sharing. :)

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    1. The Australian aborigines were not builders were they but they lived in peace and harmony with nature on your enormous island for perhaps 100,000 years before Europeans arrived.

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    2. We're are not to know, really, if they lived in peace. From what I've learned over the years of the history of Aboriginals from centuries long gone by that they not always lived peacefully together.

      There were warring tribes who battled against each other. Some tribes in the northern areas of Australia, it is claimed, fought wars in almost Roman-style warfare; marching forth into battle. They were a tall, very proud, upright tribe...so the stories go...what I've been told and what I've read.

      I doubt that man, (humans - if I must be politically-correct) has ever lived peacefully, no matter what colour they are...or what their beliefs are/were...unfortunately.

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    3. I stand corrected somewhat Lee. All I was really saying is that Australia has a very rich history of human habitation and culture but it is not represented by architecture.

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  7. I love the way sound echoes in these huge old churches. Choirs and organs sound wonderful and you're lucky if you can just sneak in, sit down quietly and listen with no one else around.

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    1. That is how it was yesterday Helen. I nearly didn't go in as I didn't wish to pay eight pounds for admission.

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  8. That is a very impressive cathedral. Joseph Banks - another well-travelled Englishman .after whom the Australian Banksia is named.

    Ms Soup

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    1. ...And also The Banks Peninsula near Christchurch, New Zealand. He was a skilled artist - paying detailed attention to the plants he described.

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    2. Not the graffiti man then.

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