Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lincoln Castle

On the day after New Year's, we went went to Lincoln Castle. It's not as impressive as it once was (the Civil War took a heavy toll) but it still contains much history and charm, in spite of the time it served as a gaol (that's a jail for you American readers) and the place for executions.

We entered through the East Gate, which had some impressive cannons from the 18th century.

I wish I could claim that I took the picture just as the ball was coming out!

Here is where Jacob found the ultimate souvenir. It doesn't need batteries and is extremely low maintenance. And it didn't cost a thing. Since he found it, he's been showing it to everyone we meet. He even took it with him on our recent trip to Portugal, which will show up in the blog soon, I hope. What is this great souvenir? Let him show you:

"This is the rock I found in Lincoln!"

Entering the gate brought us to the ticket booth/gift shop, where the children tried out some of the more kitschy wares.

Or is that kitschy wears?

The great defender

Once inside the castle, we proceeded to the left to find Cobb Hall, the northeastern defense tower that was also used for public executions in the 19th century. Many birds lived inside the hall, to the delight of Jacob. We saw the various slits where crossbows and short bows were used to defend the castle.

Cobb Hall entrance

Interior with defender's window

That window looks like a nice target!

Down below is where prisoners were kept in chains. Executions were held on the roof, where we accessed the walls of the castle.

Iron ring for chains, ball for cannon shot

The ladder is a tight squeeze

View of the Cathedral from Cobb Hall

We enjoyed the view from the walls but were unable to circumnavigate them because of work on Lucy Tower. It is named after Lucy Taillebois, who was first married to the Sheriff of Lincoln. Subsequent marriages brought her more wealth and she built the tower to assert her authority at the castle.

View from the castle wall

View of the West Gate from above

Lucy Tower under repair!

We retreated to Cobb Hall and then went to the Magna Carta exhibit. The Cathedral's original 1215 AD copy of Magna Carta is on display, along with several informational exhibits on the history and impact of the document.  Naturally, no photographs were allowed.

We also saw an ornately carved stump in the middle of the bailey or inner courtyard.

Lucy and possibly her namesake from the tower

Jacob tries to point but his mitten does not cooperate

Also in the bailey is the castle's well. The bath house just up the slope served as the prison laundry when the castle was primarily used as a jail.

A favorite spot for the children

The bath house, conveniently near the well

Also nearby is a magnificent bust of King George III. The bust was formerly part of a statue on a column 90 feet high that overlooked Dunston Heath to the southeast. When World War II began it was deemed a hazard for aircraft and the statue was taken down. The bust came to the castle in 1973.

Thanks for letting us American colonists go!

We also visited the 18th century gaol, of which the most striking feature is the chapel. It has individual cubicles for the inmates to attend services so they can't see each other. Grimly the chapel is decorated with an empty coffin under the pulpit.

Mommy and Lucy join the women's prison!

View from the chapel cubicles

View from the chapel pulpit (those are manikins)

Two other features are found in the castle. First is the court house, which is still in use and is not available for touring.

The court house

Second is the base of an Eleanor Cross. It is named after Eleanor of Castile, the bride of King Edward I. She married him when he was 15 (and only a prince) and she was 10. They had a fruitful marriage (16 children!) and was a devoted wife to Edward. When she died, her body was embalmed in Lincoln and slowly made its way to London. Everywhere it stayed overnight a cross was erected in her honor. The cross at the castle was one of the many casualties of the Civil War.

The base of the Eleanor Cross at Lincoln Castle

After our visit, we headed out for lunch at a nearby restaurant and then drove home. Lincoln was a great adventure and I imagine we might come back, especially if they have jousting at the castle!

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