The Lincoln Cathedral is the third largest English cathedral and one the prime examples of Gothic architecture. It is a sight that can easily steal away one’s breath. Its long nave crowns the hilltop 200 feet above the River Witham, and its honey-colored towers draws in the eyes to present a glorious sight.
It was the first structure to be built higher than the Great Pyramid. The central tower is 271 feet (83 m) high, reportedly the highest cathedral tower in Europe. That is topped with the highest spire in the world, coming in at 525 feet (160 m).
The first cathedral at Lincoln dates back to 1073. It was begun by Regimus, England’s first Norman bishop, under the orders of William the Conqueror. Regimus moved his see from Dorchester to Lincoln and created the largest diocese in medieval England, hosting more monasteries than all the rest of England combined. Some of his work can still be viewed in the west front; however, a 1185 earthquake left the cathedral in shambles.
What could be saved was saved, but what we see today came at the hands of Hugh of Avalon, a Carthusian monk, meaning he came from what is now Switzerland. Hugh became the Bishopric of Lincoln and instituted a plan to rebuild and even to transform what Regimus began.
Bishop Hugh, coincidentally, was one of the witnesses to the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215, and one of the four surviving original copies of that famous document is kept in the castle associated with the Lincoln Cathedral.
“Under Hugh’s direction, the east transepts and the choir were rebuilt, a project that was not complete until 1210. Between 1215 and 1255 the great transept, the Galilee, and the light and spacious chapter house were added, and the central tower was begun. The chapter house was used by Edward I on three occasions to house meetings of Parliament. Between 1253 and 1280 the superb Angel Choir was built by Simon of Thirsk, in part to house a shrine to Hugh of Avalon, who had been canonized as Great St Hugh.” (Lincoln Cathedral)
The Angel Choir is so named because of the numerous angel carvings in the arches. It is a superb example of Gothic architecture. It was created to be a shrine of sorts for Bishop Hugh, and many make a pilgrimage to visit the place and view its magnificence. The ‘Lincoln Imp’ sits high up on a pillar. Most think it a quirk of a medieval sculptor, but it serves as the symbol of the city these days.