Lincoln Cathedral


Blessed Sacrament windowLincoln Cathedral is one of the finest medieval buildings in Europe. It has been a major focus of worship for over 900 years and it is a centre of excellence for art, conservation, music and architecture.

In 1092 the Cathedral built by Bishop Remigius was consecrated. In 1141, or possibly earlier, the Cathedral was damaged by fire. Alexander ‘the Magnificent’ partially rebuilt the damaged Cathedral. Henry of Huntingdon, who compiled his ‘History of the English’ at Alexander’s request, states that the Bishop restored the Cathedral with such subtle workmanship that it was more beautiful than before, and second to none in England.

An earthquake caused structural damage to Lincoln Cathedral in 1185. St Hugh (Bishop of Lincoln, 1186-1200) began work on reconstructing the Cathedral in 1192. Given the experimental nature of Gothic architecture, mistakes occurred, and the central tower’s collapse around 1237 was a major setback. A new tower was started immediately and in 1255 the Dean and Chapter petitioned Henry III to allow them to take down part of the extended town wall to enlarge the Cathedral.

They replaced Hugh’s rounded chapels with a larger and loftier square east end to provide more space for the increasing numbers of pilgrims venerating the saint’s shrine.

Between 1307 and 1311 the central tower was raised to its present
height. Then around 1370 to 1400 the western towers were heightened. All three towers had spires until 1549 when the central tower’s spire blew down.

Of course it is people who have made Lincoln Cathedral what it is today - bishops and kings, saints and sinners, pilgrims and worshippers. The story of the people and the place is preserved in the Library with its valuable collection of historic books and manuscripts. It is responsible for one of the extant copies of the Magna Carta as well as the Lincoln Chapter Bible (c1100).



I have always held and am prepared against all evidence to maintain
that the cathedral of Lincoln is out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles and roughly speaking worth any two other cathedrals we have. (John Ruskin 1819-1900)

Lincoln Cathedral has taken centuries to build. Over many years its form has been altered according to fashion, politics and people. The building is the beautiful result of many influences of architectural process.

The imposing West Front incorporates the surviving part of the first Romanesque Cathedral dating from 1072. Most of the Cathedral dates from the 13th century when, inspired by the leadership of St Hugh (Bishop from 1186-1200), the Cathedral was re-built in the new gothic style. Later generations added the wonderful carved screen, the 14th century misericords, the Wren Library and the Duncan Grant frescoes.

Each century since has seen repairs and changes in how the parts of the cathedral were used, but the Cathedral as we know it was complete. Examples of the Cathedral�¯�¿�½s amazing architecture can be witnessed all over the building from Crazy vaults to flying buttresses.


The Cathedral is the spiritual centre of the City, the parish church of the County, a place of national heritage and a centre of international pilgrimage. It provides a space for God, a focus for prayer and an opportunity for praise and worship.

Find Katherine Swnford’s tomb, St Hugh’s Shrine and the famous Lincoln Imp. Take a guided tour or explore at your own pace; spend an afternoon browsing in the historic libraries; join us for worship or one of our events.

Film buffs among you will be interested to search out the locations used for filming the Da Vinci Code. Hollywood descended on the Cathedral in August 2005 and transformed the nave and chapter house into Westminster Abbey. The film, which stars Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou and Sir Ian Mckellen was due to be released in May 2006.

Local Interest

Lincoln Castle
Bishop's Palace
The Usher Gallery
The Collection