Why "The Survey of Lincoln"?

At the beginning of The Survey of Lincoln’s first ringbinder of archived minutes, letters and notes is a letter from The Museum of London, dated 3rd February 1992. It is a reply to Dr Alan Vince of the City of Lincoln Archaeological Unit (then based at the Sessions House) from ‘Tommy’ [?possibly Thomas Andrew Hume CBE) which discusses the potential ‘principle sources involved in doing a “full” reconstruction of medieval Lincoln’. The letter – and its accompanying summary list of different types of documentary sources – refers to English Heritage funding criteria and also suggests that compiling a database of material might be useful even if it was too incomplete to be helpful in understanding specific sites or archaeological excavations.

Alan Vince (who died in 2009) was employed at the City of Lincoln Archaeological Trust from 1987, and had previously worked at The Museum of London. Since 1894 (when Charles Robert Ashbee began the Survey of Memorials in Greater London), a project has been compiling The Survey of London, gradually working around the neighbourhoods and publishing reports describing buildings which were perceived as of interest. The scope has changed over the years, but that Survey continues, now under the auspices of The Bartlett School of Architecture (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/architecture/research/survey-london/history-survey-london).

Alan’s correspondence records the early contemplation of starting a similar project in Lincoln. The next archive entry – headed ‘Survey of Lincoln’ - minutes a meeting held at Lincolnshire Archives on 12th April 1994 by the Steering Group concerned with ‘continuing the survey’ [ie The Survey of Ancient Houses in Lincoln]. The steering group comprised Dr Vince, Jeremy Ashbee, and Chris Johnson. Their meeting discussed scope, organisation and funding; they envisaged four volumes (Wigford, Lower City, Other main suburbs, and Castle/Upper City) which would be published by the City of Lincoln Archaeological Unit with a suggested series title of “The Survey of Lincoln: a topographical account”.

PW Hudson (Honorary Secretary of Lincoln Civic Trust, which had overseen The Survey of Ancient Houses until significant individuals had resigned from the committee when the fourth fascicule was completed) and Michael Jones (Director, City of Lincoln Archaeology Unit) met on 2nd September 1994 and agreed that the Survey of Lincoln Steering Group would be disbanded on 31st December 1994. The new survey group would formally begin on 1st January 1995, funded by a £1000 contribution from Lincoln Civic Trust. It would operate under the auspices of Lincoln Civic Trust, with The City of Lincoln Archaeology Unit housing the generated archive and providing management/secretarial facilities.

The scope of the new group was to be wider than that of The Survey of Ancient Houses and would include some Victorian housing but would not necessarily examine buildings in the same depth.

GT 28/12/2019