Sunday, 18 September 2011

Lincoln Cathedral - Posting 1 (outside)

Lincoln Cathedral is one of the finest medieval buildings in Europe.

It sits high on a hill overlooking the ancient city of Lincoln and dominates the skyline. (left)

This is a view from the road approaching Lincoln, where we were trapped for nearly an hour because of a traffic accident on the other carriageway.  It looked nasty, and we hoped there were survivors.

Where the Dean et al live?  Just opposite the entrance to the Cathedral and very very lovely.

The building is made from local limestone and Purbeck marble and has evolved over hundreds of years, built and cared for by thousands of people. It was obviously built to worship God and is Christian, but even if you have no faith, visiting it will imbue a sense of truth and grace.

Pictures below, but this extract about the architecture is taken from the Cathedral website

"The first cathedral was started in 1072. It was in the shape of a cross — the Christian symbol — with the entrance at the west and the altar at the east. This Norman building style gave the West end an almost fortress-like appearance. The two west towers had steep pyramidal roofs. The arches over the west front were low and rounded.

A fire in 1141 severely damaged the roof, leading to much restoration. The original flat timber ceilings were replaced with stone vaults. A carved frieze was inserted above the central doorway depicting the punishments that would be the fate of sinners.

The collapse of the central tower in the 1230s prompted another rebuilding of the east end. A suitable shrine was needed for St. Hugh Bishop of Lincoln and so the Angel Choir was built. This used high arches, fine, detailed carvings and huge expanses of stained glass to give an impression of light and richness. The European-style apse was extended into a Celtic-influenced square ended chancel.

In the 14th century the central tower was raised and topped with a lead-covered spire, making it the tallest building in Europe. The Choir Screen was also added at this time. Used then as a pulpit, it is in the Decorated style of dense, intricate carvings which would have been brightly painted.

The focus of new building in the 15th century turned to chantry or memorial chapels. The chapels next to the Angel Choir were built in the Perpendicular style, with an emphasis on strong vertical lines, seen most markedly in the window tracery and wall panelling."

In 1141, or possibly earlier, the Cathedral was damaged by fire. Alexander 'the Magnificent' (Bishop of Lincoln, 1123-48) partially rebuilt the damaged Cathedral.

Educated in Laon in northern France, Alexander travelled widely and was acquainted with the most advanced architecture of his day.

Henry of Huntingdon, who compiled his 'History of the English' at Alexander's request, states that the Bishop restored the Cathedral with such subtle workmanship that it was more beautiful than before, and second to none in England.
Given the experimental nature of Gothic architecture, mistakes occurred, and the central tower's collapse in 1237 or 1239 was a major setback.

A new tower was started immediately and in 1255 the Dean and Chapter petitioned Henry III to allow them to take down part of the extended town wall to enlarge the Cathedral.

They replaced Hugh's rounded chapels with a larger and loftier square east end to provide more space for the increasing numbers of pilgrims venerating the saint's shrine.

An earthquake caused structural damage to Lincoln Cathedral in 1185. St Hugh (Bishop of Lincoln, 1186-1200) began work on reconstructing the Cathedral in 1192.

He used the Gothic style, where pointed arches (rather than round ones), ribbed vaults and flying buttresses made it possible to make larger windows (for stained glass) and larger roof spans.

St. Hugh himself was said to have carried a hod to help with the building work, but he died in 1200, before the great Transept and Nave were finished.

A few photos of the streets around the Cathedral. This street is called Steep Street. Made me puff.

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