Up the hill: a weekend at Lincoln Cathedral

Neither of us had visited Lincoln for a long time (I had once, at university) and had forgotten quite how stunning it is. Perched up the appropriately-named ‘Steep Hill’, the cathedral looks out over the city.

As John Ruskin said, “I have always held and proposed against all comers to maintain that the Cathedral of Lincoln is out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles.” [And I whole-heartedly agree with him.]

Inside Lincoln Cathedral

Building started in 1088, under William the Conqueror’s instruction, and in heavy Norman style, opposite the castle he had already built across the city. Around 100 years later, a fire and an earthquake between them caused extensive damage to the great building, and parts were rebuilt in the Gothic style, which included the use of flying buttressing to enable huge stained glass windows, and pointed arches replacing the original rounded ones.

Rose window at Lincoln Cathedral

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There’s more than one alma mater, you know: way up North to Durham

I suppose Cambridge is easier to get to from London. And it is quite pretty, I guess. And a *fairly* good university… [I’m not going to rise to any of this. Some people are just jealous.] Nonetheless, I was very excited to give the tour of my own university, way up at the other end of the country in the tiny city of Durham.

Even more special to me, though, was a visit to my old college, University College, or Castle as it’s known. It is, indeed, a castle, built in the 11th century [although the keep was rebuilt in Victorian times] to defend against marauding Scots, and was lived in by the Prince Bishops before the students took over.

I lived in the keep, with a very lovely roommate:

University College, Durham

Sang (often hungover) in the tiny Tunstall Chapel, built in 1540:

Chapel at University College, Durham

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A rea-Ely pretty cathedral

As we’ve mentioned before, we’re musical types. This is great, because it takes us to some of the country’s most gorgeous cities and cathedrals. Last weekend, we were in Ely – not somewhere I’d ever been to before [I’d sung there once before when at university, although I’d forgotten just how stunning the cathedral is]. It’s one of those places that isn’t much of a city beside its cathedral; nonetheless there were some great pubs and places to while away our (limited) free time.

More noteworthy, though, was the cathedral. Oh wow. I have a book on the world’s cathedrals (yup, I’m cool like that) and this place makes the cover. We went on a tour of the roof and up into the Octagon tower, so were lucky enough to see the views from above as well as below. To anyone visiting Ely, we’d definitely recommend the tour – £8 well spent, with a fascinating and lovely guide, and access to some breathtaking parts of the building.

The main quire, with rood screen and altar behind:

View into Ely cathedral quire

Quite a colourful cathedral, apparently the Victorians restored the original colours – amazing to think all cathedrals were this vibrant when newly completed!

Ceiling of Ely cathedral nave

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