The Retirees go Abroad – Greg’s Visit to Nottingham – Lincoln Cathedral

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Firstly there is the obligatory picture in the gateway to the cathedral and then entry into the vast nave. The cathedral was once the highest building in the world until 1549 when its spire collapsed and was not rebuilt. A production of Jesus Christ Superstar is being performed in the cathedral so unfortunately we did not get a clear view of the nave. Whilst waiting for our guide Kerry and I inspected the wonderful “stations of the cross” and then I took Greg on my own version of the tour to show him the Dean’s Eye, the Bishop’s Eye, the chapter house and St Hugh’s choir in the chapel.

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We met the guide for the tour and whilst he was most knowledgeable and informative he was also deaf so he did not hear our pleas for him to speak up. We saw the baptismal font carved from one stone in the 12th century, the Dutch pulpit saved from an Anglican Church in Holland, some hand carved pieces from an ancient set of carvings for a set of stations(the carvings were donated to the church by a parishioner)

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Here is what I could hear of the history of the cathedral. Remigius de Fécamp, the first bishop of Lincoln, moved the Episcopal seat there “sometime between 1072 and 1092” from Dorchester. Bishop Remigius built the first Lincoln Cathedral on the present site, finishing it in 1092 and then dying on 9 May of that year two days before it was consecrated. It is a cathedral because it contains a “Cathra” or the bishop’s seat. The cathedral was mostly destroyed by an earthquake in 1185. The damage to the cathedral is thought to have been very extensive being described as having “split from top to bottom”. In the current building, only the lower part of the west end and of its two attached towers remain of the pre-earthquake cathedral. After the earthquake, a new bishop was appointed. He was Hugh de Burgundy of Avalon, France, who became known as St Hugh of Lincoln.

Hugh was consecrated Bishop of Lincoln on 1186 at Westminster. As a bishop, he was exemplary, constantly in residence or travelling within his diocese, generous with his charity, scrupulous in the appointments he made. He raised the quality of education at the cathedral school. Hugh was also prominent in trying to protect the Jews, great numbers of whom lived in Lincoln, in the persecution they suffered at the beginning of Richard I’s reign, and he put down popular violence against them—as later occurred following the death of Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln—in several places. Hugh was canonised by Pope Honorius III in 1220, and is the patron saint of sick children, sick people, shoemakers and swans. Hugh’s primary emblem is a white swan, in reference to the story of the swan of Stowe which had a deep and lasting friendship with the saint, even guarding him while he slept. The swan would follow him about, and was his constant companion while he was at Lincoln. Hugh loved all the animals in the monastery gardens, especially a wild swan that would eat from his hand and follow him about and yet the swan would attack anyone else who came near Hugh.

A new tower was soon started and in 1255 the Cathedral petitioned Henry III to allow them to take down part of the town wall to enlarge and expand the Cathedral, including the rebuilding of the central tower and spire. They replaced the small rounded chapels (built at the time of St Hugh) with a larger east end to the cathedral. This was to handle the increasing number of pilgrims to the Cathedral, who came to worship at the shrine of Hugh of Lincoln. The shrine has been moved a number of times and it appears in the moves they have lost St Hugh’s head.

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The history of this cathedral goes on and on but as it is best known for the shrine of St Hugh, I have limited the history. From here we proceeded to the Castle and the Magna Carta vault.

 

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