The Knights Trail, Lincoln
It's been a good month (not spending-wise, however) as it's been busy at work, and I was away last week for a long weekend.
I joined a women's group last year and there's an annual conference to bring lots of us together from all over the country for a day or three. The conferences move around the country, allowing day attendance for whichever local groups are in the area. There are also regional conferences throughout the year which everyone is welcome to attend.
There were about 300 of us at this national conference, held in the very pretty city of Lincoln (Lincolnshire). There were wraparound events planned and three of us from my group attended. I drove up with one other lady, Alison, on Friday and we arrived at about 1:00, after a 5-hour journey. To be fair, we would have been slightly earlier but were talking so much at one point that we missed our exit and carried on almost to Birmingham (too far west). Whoops! A bit of a cross-country trek back got us back on track, fortunately.
I had booked an AirBnB which was in the perfect location - a 5-minute walk from the castle and about 15 mins from the University of Lincoln, where the conference was being held. Perfect! We weren't actually in the BnB itself but in a separate house, only 2-minutes away from it, which was really comfortable. There were three bedrooms (one with en-suite, downstairs) and it was set up with everything that we needed. There were three other people staying there, two fellows in the downstairs room and one other, who was let in at 3 a.m. by one of the fellows downstairs and then left his dirty breakfast bowl in the sink. Rude! It was still there when we left on Sunday morning, as no one wanted to clean up after him...
Once we'd got ourselves settled, we headed out for a castle tour. After that, we had a cheese tasting session (delicious!) and a lovely meal at a pub called the Wig and Mitre on Steep Hill (because it is!).
Castle Square, looking at the cathedral
The castle is free to enter - it's the buildings & wall walk that you pay extra for.
Setting up for the Cliff Richard concert on Saturday night! A £22million refurbishment of the castle, finished in 2015, has ensured that this beautiful building can remain standing. The Lincoln limestone is so soft it was crumbling and more or less a ruin. The red building in the centre is the prison - there is a Victorian and an Edwardian section, in the middle of which is a brand new, state of the art vault containing one of only four original 1215 copies of the Magna Carta!
The Lincoln courthouse - this is the Lincoln City court. You can be held in contempt if you interrupt the proceedings in any way while court is in session, so you have to be very quiety when outside it. The court jurisdiction begins at the paving stones.
Crumbling limestone walls.
Another knight! There were 37 in total to find.
Steep Hill, which leads into the more modern high street much lower down.
The more modern high street.
Located in Castle Square, at the top of Steep Hill and opposite the castle.
The cheese tasting was delicious, although I baulked at the blue cheese, I admit. Some fabulous cheeses, but so filling that we only had starters for dinner, although they were quite delicious themselves - salmon balls with a chili dressing - and a pudding. I had a lemon mousse-type dessert (can't remember what it was called now) which was nice, but not lemon-y enough in my opinion and a bit heavier than I would have liked.
Anyway, the conference the next day was good - the speakers were excellent. Sophie Wells MBE is a Paralympian dressage rider, who has won gold and silver at London and Rio. She's a tiny little thing but very determined and really made me consider my own excuses for not getting thing done. It really is mostly a mental attitude.
The next speaker was Mary Powell, who managed the funding and oversaw the refurbishment of the castle. She explained how the money was raised and that it was, so far, outstripping their expectations in respect of how many visitors it would attract. The project has been a huge success and Lincoln is very proud of its beautiful 'new' castle.
I actually snuck out after lunch and returned to the castle because I wanted to see the Magna Carta. It was on display with the Charter of the Forest and the Domesday Book (1086) which is on loan to Lincoln until September 3. After that, it will disappear back into the National Archives and won't see the light of day, so to speak, for another 5 years. I wanted to take the opportunity to see it while it and I were in the same place.
The Domesday Book is more or less a Land Registry and is still referred to! The most recent use was in 1964 and while the pages are still original, it has been rebound to ensure it stays together. Fascinating!
I then walked the walls and took a quick tour through the prison, although it didn't really hold my interest that much. Despite dekeing out of the conference, I did want to get back for the last speaker of the day.
The entrance to the Magna Carta vault.
Crests of the Barons who signed the Magna Carta.
Part of the document's translation.
The vault. As close as I dared to take a photo.
Creepy! They put mannequins in to show how the prison chapel works, with doors separating the prisoners from each other.
From the walls of the castle, looking east.
Into the bailey.
I climbed that tower on the mott (the grass hill) to get a beautiful view of the city below.
Climbing the tower on the mott. They wanted to replace these stairs but figured out quickly that they were the only thing holding the tower up! So they reinforced and added passing areas instead.
A lift for the handicapped to allow them to walk at least part of the walls. Those stairs are also the only way up to the walls. The metal is new(ish) but is designed to rust quickly in order to blend in a bit more with the environment.
Our last speaker was author Sophie Hannah. I'm not sure how many had actually ever heard of her - I certainly hadn't prior to this - but not only is she quite a prolific author in her own right (of mysteries), she is also the author of the new Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot novels, chosen by the Christie family & estate to continue the legacy. Very funny and a very interesting story of how she became their chosen author.
For dinner that evening, we had a fantastic Thai meal and then wandered around at the top of town so I could get photos of the Knights - I was determined to find all 37 - before our ghost walk that evening. Accompanied by the concert of Sir Cliff Richard and led by the woman who is the official town crier of Lincoln, we had a very interesting hour and a half, wandering around the streets and hearing stories of ghostly happenings.
Sunday we finished off our Knights Trail - hurrah! We found them all - and then had an hour-long boat trip on the river. It was ... well, I could have happily not done it and not missed doing it. Let's just say that. It was relaxing, I'll give it that, but that's about it.
We headed home after that (no missed junctions this time) and arrived home in time for dinner. A fully, busy weekend in a truly lovely city. I'm glad I went and I'm glad I took time away from the conference to see the Domesday Book - I certainly don't regret that.
Lincoln is on my 'to visit again' list. It's small and pretty (if you stay away from the modern high street) and full of university students. And it's north - technically, the Midlands - which I like as well. The people are a bit more open in the north and it feels more welcoming sometimes than the south. Just an observation from this foreigner...
Hope you've all had a lovely weekend - and Happy Canada Day (yesterday) and Happy Independence Day (Tuesday)!