Lincoln's Castle, Bail & Close

On March 28th 2015 The Survey of Lincoln published an extra booklet, covering aspects of the history of the uphill area including the Castle and Cathedral. Publication was assisted by a grant from The University of Lincoln.

The volume costs £6.95.

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This volume in the Survey of Lincoln neighbourhood series puts under the spotlight an area of the city that is dominated by its Castle and Cathedral. The chapters contained here aim to explore parts of this well-documented district that have either been relatively neglected, or which provide new interpretations for consideration.

As with previous works in the Survey of Lincoln neighbourhood series, the focus is principally upon the buildings and structures within the neighbourhood. The chapters range significantly across time from the Roman period until the early years of the third millennium.

Chapters examining the Castle and its immediate surroundings emphasise aspects far removed from its defensive duties. The volume also places emphasis upon a relatively neglected place of worship a stone’s throw away from the Cathedral. The collection explores elements of the neighbourhood’s history and reflects how this area has not just been a place of religious and secular authority but has also served as a site where people have lived, worked and played over time.

Chapter titles include:

· Visible Roman and medieval archaeological remains within the neighbourhood;

· Where did Aaron live?

· Lincoln Cathedral: an annotated structural timeline.

· Hidden places in the Cathedral.

· St Mary Magdalene Church.

· The lane with three names and three lives.

· The housing of residentiary canons and lay people in late-medieval Lincoln Cathedral Close;

· The well at St Paul-in-the-Bail;

· The Judges’ Lodgings;

· The Castle Dykings;

· Servant-keeping households in the Minster Close, 1841;

· The Drury Lane brewery;

· A place to drink; and a long drop;

· Second World War Tanks for uphill Lincoln;

· Castle memoirs: Lincolnshire Archives, 1971-91;

· Lincoln Castle’s invisible history: the emergence of a tourist attraction.



This volume in the Survey of Lincoln neighbourhood booklet series covers an area of the city dominated by the Cathedral and the Castle. The Survey of Lincoln committee agreed that this volume should, as far as possible, aim to complement the extensive existing literature on this part of the city. Thus, the chapters examining the Castle and the Cathedral aim to cover relatively unexplored ground: Heather Hughes and Helen Durham examine the history of the Castle as a tourist destination; Chris Johnson remembers the relatively brief period in which the Castle accommodated the county archives; and Mary Lucas spotlights several relatively unknown aspects of the Cathedral, having provided a brief architectural timeline summarising major changes to the Cathedral’s material fabric.

The district under investigation is represented in the centrefold map. It is bounded to the west by Union Road; to the north variously by Westgate, Bailgate, East Bight and Eastgate; and to the east by Winnowsty Lane and Wragby Road. The neighbourhood’s southern boundaries comprise Pottergate, Minster Yard; Exchequergate; Castle Hill and Drury Lane.

As with other volumes in the series, this work focuses particularly upon the buildings and structures within the neighbourhood. Through studying these significant light can be shed on those who lived, worked and worshipped in the area. The chapters range across time. Michael J. Jones highlights some of the surviving visible Roman archaeology in the area and outlines some of the latest thinking arising from recent excavations; and Chris Johnson questions long-established claims as to where the city’s well-known medieval Jewish inhabitant Aaron actually lived. Two other medieval-orientated chapters, by Mary Lucas and Marianne Wilson, examine some of the houses in which the city’s key professional and clerical households were accommodated. A later chapter by Victoria Thorpe and Dennis Mills returns to houses within the immediate vicinity of the Cathedral, but focusses upon them from the perspective of domestic servants. Other parts of the neighbourhood were largely populated by the city’s working class: Rob Wheeler’s chapter on the Castle Dykings during the nineteenth century draws upon some vivid court documentation to reveal much about an area of the city which for some of the period was regarded as outside its administrative structures.

Sitting firmly within Lincoln’s regulated centre was the Judges’ Lodgings, situated in Castle Hill, adjacent to the Castle. Miriam Smith’s chapter plots the development of this still-imposing building.

Shirley Brook’s chapter emphasises that other churches were available to worshippers in the neighbourhood in addition to the Cathedral. In a chapter plotting the development of the church nearest to the Cathedral, St Mary Magdalene Church, it is suggested that the parish church’s attractiveness might have been enhanced by its location within a medieval retail complex.

Although the neighbourhood is perhaps not regarded as a significant site of industry, nevertheless small-scale workplaces were situated in the locality. Chris Page’s chapter focuses upon one of these – the Drury Lane Brewery. The popularity of drinking within the district is highlighted in Paul Hickman’s chapter which identifies many of the public houses that were located within the area.

A rather more sober lifestyle was facilitated by the development uphill during the middle years of the century by a series of water tanks, constructed largely with firefighting in mind, during the Second World War. Geoff Tann examines the sites of these receptacles.

The collection, then, encourages readers to view afresh an apparently well-known area of the city and aims to prompt further questions to be asked of this neighbourhood’s buildings and structures.

Andrew Walker

Rose Bruford College

This booklet should be available at:

The Survey of Lincoln (by email)

Waterstones (High Street, Lincoln)

Jews Court Bookshop, Lincoln.

Kay Books Online

Lincolnshire Archives

Lindum Books (4 Bailgate, Lincoln)

Di & Saul Books (Hook, Goole)