Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Pilgrim-age begins - 21 April 2006

Newark-on-TrentLincoln is two hours from London and well worth the trip.

Gainsborough Old HallWe broke the journey at Newark-on-Trent to walk the Town Trail, before continuing on to Gainsborough to visit Gainsborough Old Hall. This is described as an unknown gem: one of the best-preserved timber framed manor houses in the UK.

The countryside is a blaze of yellowAnd it is an excellent little gem, (well, not that little really) well worth detouring to see. English Heritage has furnished it with authentic replica furniture and drapes, to give the feeling of the period. Begun around 1460, the Hall is huge, and visitors get to see a reasonable portion of it.

Kings Richard III and Henry VIII have both stayed here, the Pilgrim Fathers worshipped in it before their journey to a new life in America and townsfolk gathered in the great hall to hear John Wesley preach.

LincolnLincoln was just down a brilliant straight Roman road.

The GuildhallWe loved Lincoln: the higher part of town is the Cathedral Quarter while at the bottom of the hill is the Cultural Quarter. Although we parked at the top by the Cathedral we had to hotfoot it to the bottom of Lincoln Cathedralthe hill to make it to the Guildhall for the 1:30 p.m. tour we had booked.

The tour was most interesting, to see behind the scenes of Civic pomp, to see the original town charter, which predates the Magna Carta and also to learn about many of the old traditions they still follow from when Lincoln appointed its first mayor, 800 years ago.

We followed this tour with quick look at the new £13 million ‘Collection’ Museum. This is a fabulous modern building and the interior displays are very well done and most interesting.

Bishop's PalaceTo get back to the Cathedral Quarter involved a walk up a street simply called ‘Steep Hill’, which lives up to its name. A cup of tea half way up kept us going before we visited the ruined remains of the Bishop's palace. Once again Henry VIII broke the wealth and power of the Bishops.

A Forest StationThe final visit of the day was Lincoln Cathedral: what a statement of power. It is a magnificent building occupying a strategic position at the top of the hill. We particularly like the modern Stations of the Cross, done in various different timbers and aptly called ‘Forest Stations’.

Da Vinci FrescosIt was also interesting to see the ‘frescos’ on the wall of the Chapter House that were put there for the filming of the Da Vinci Code. Lincoln Cathedral was used as the ‘body-double’ for Westminster Cathedral.

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