Lincoln Cathedral is one of the greatest buildings in the world. It’s not the oldest in England – Durham cathedral is, though Lincoln dates from 1072. It’s not the longest – York cathedral is, though Lincoln is 548 feet in length*. It’s not filled with religious sculpture and great art – it’s a Protestant cathedral. It was the tallest building in the world at 525 feet in height until the enormous spire was knocked off the highest tower by a storm in the year 1400. The highest tower is 251 feet tall without the spire and can be seen from 30 miles away.
When you see this magnificent building, walk its great length, look at the stonework and sculpture done by men in the 13th century with little more than tools made of iron and wooden scaffolding to lift them to great heights, it’s impossible not to be astonished by what the cathedral builders of the middle ages accomplished.
A very sketchy outline of the history of Lincoln Cathedral:
1072 On the order of William the Conqueror the first cathedral in this place was begun. 1092 The first cathedral was complete. 1141 The first cathedral was destroyed by fire. The second cathedral was begun. 1185 An earthquake destroyed that cathedral, leaving only the west front and towers intact. 1192 Work began on the building we see today. 1280 The large “angel choir” at the east end of the church was dedicated to St. Hugh; the Chapter House and Cloisters were built in the mid- to late-13th century. 1307-11 The tall central tower was raised to its present height.
It’s steeple blew down in 1348; steeples were removed from the western towers in 1807.
Here is a brief description of the cathedral with photographs.
After the earthquake of 1185 destroyed the cathedral (leaving only the western wall which we still see today) a French monk was put in charge of the priory and the cathedral at Lincoln. His name was Hugo, which was Anglicized to Hugh. It was he who began work on the cathedral we visit today. The French by this time had developed gothic architecture for their great churches. It enabled the building of higher, lighter cathedrals with narrower columns supporting the weight. Buttresses were placed on the exterior help supported the weight of the walls and roof.