Lonely Planet review for Lincoln Cathedral
Towering over Lincoln like a medieval skyscraper, Lincoln's magnificent cathedral is a breathtaking representation of divine power on earth. The great tower rising above the crossing is the third-highest in England at 83m, but in medieval times, a lead-encased wooden spire added a further 79m, topping even the great pyramids of Giza.
The first Lincoln cathedral was constructed between 1072 and 1092, but it fell in a devastating fire in 1141, and the second cathedral was destroyed by an earthquake in 1185. Bishop Hugh of Avalon (St Hugh) rebuilt and massively expanded the cathedral, creating one of the largest Gothic buildings in Europe.
On the fabulous exterior, restored Norman friezes show Adam and Eve bringing sin into the world, and Jesus making the ultimate sacrifice to undo the damage.
The vast interior of the church is too large for modern congregations – services take place in St Hugh's Choir, a church within a church running east from the crossing. The choir stalls are accessed through a magnificent carved stone screen; look north to see the stunning rose window known as the Dean's Eye (from 1192), mirrored to the south by the floral flourishes of the Bishop's Eye (1330). There's more stained glass in the three Services Chapels in the North Transept.
The glory of Lincoln cathedral is in the detail. Beyond St Hugh's Choir, the Angel Choir is supported by 28 columns topped by carvings of angels and foliate scrollwork. Tucked atop one of the columns is the official emblem of Lincoln, the tiny Lincoln Imp – a cheeky horned pixie, allegedly turned to stone by the angels after being sent by the devil to vandalise the church.
Other interesting details include the 10-sided chapter house – where Edward I held his parliament, and where the climax of The Da Vinci Code was filmed in 2005.
Don't miss the one-hour guided tours, which take place at least twice a day plus less-frequent tours of the roof and the tower. All are included in the admission price.The best time to hear the organ resounding through the cathedral is during evensong (5.30pm Monday to Saturday, 3.45pm Sunday).