1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lincoln

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LINCOLN, a city and county of a city, municipal, county and parliamentary borough, and the county town of Lincolnshire, England. Pop. (1901) 48,784. It is picturesquely situated on the summit and south slope of the limestone ridge of the Cliff range of hills, which rises from the north bank of the river Witham, at its confluence with the Foss Dyke, to an altitude of 200 ft. above the river. The cathedral rises majestically from the crown of the hill, and is a landmark for many miles. Lincoln is 130 m. N. by W. from London by the Great Northern railway; it is also served by branches of the Great Eastern, Great Central and Midland railways.

Lincoln is one of the most interesting cities in England. The ancient British town occupied the crown of the hill beyond the Newport or North Gate. The Roman town consisted of two parallelograms of unequal length, the first extending west from the Newport gate to a point a little west of the castle keep. The second parallelogram, added as the town increased in size and importance, extended due south from this point down the hill towards the Witham as far as Newland, and thence in a direction due east as far as Broad Street. Returning thence due north, it joined the south-east corner of the first and oldest parallelogram in what was afterwards known as the Minster yard, and terminated its east side upon its junction with the north wall in a line with the Newport gate. This is the oldest part of the town, and is named “above hill.” After the departure of the Romans, the city walls were extended still farther in a south direction across the Witham as far as the great bar gate, the south entrance to the High Street of the city; the junction of these walls with the later Roman one was effected immediately behind Broad Street. The “above hill” portion of the city consists of narrow irregular streets, some of which are too steep to admit of being ascended by carriages. The south portion, which is named “below hill,” is much more commodious, and contains the principal business premises. Here also are the railway stations.

The glory of Lincoln is the noble cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary, commonly known as the Minster. As a study to the architect and antiquary this stands unrivalled, not only as embodying the earliest purely Gothic work extant, but as containing within its compass every variety of style from the simple massive Norman of the central west front, and the later and more ornate examples of that style in the west doorways and towers; onward through all the Gothic styles, of each of which both early and late examples appear. The building material is the oolite and calcareous stone of Lincoln Heath and Haydor, which has the peculiarity of becoming hardened on the surface when tooled. Formerly the cathedral had three spires, all of wood or leaded timber. The spire on the central tower, which would appear to have been the highest in the world, was blown down in 1547. Those on the two western towers were removed in 1808.

The ground plan of the first church, adopted from that of Rouen, was laid by Bishop Remigius in 1086, and the church was consecrated three days after his death, on the 6th of May 1092. The west front consists of an Early English screen (c. 1225) thrown over the Norman front, the west towers rising behind it. The earliest Norman work is part of that of Remigius; the great portals and the west towers up to the third storey are Norman c. 1148. The upper parts of them date from 1365. Perpendicular windows (c. 1450) are inserted. The nave and aisles were completed c. 1220. The transepts mainly built between 1186 and 1235 have two fine rose windows, that in the N. is Early English, and that in the S. Decorated. The first has beautiful contemporary stained glass. These are called respectively the Dean’s Eye and Bishop’s Eye. A Galilee of rich Early English work forms the entrance of the S. transept. Of the choir the western portion known as St Hugh’s (1186–1204) is the famous first example of pointed work; the eastern, called the Angel Choir, is a magnificently ornate work completed in 1280. Fine Perpendicular canopied stalls fill the western part. The great east window, 57 ft. in height, is an example of transition from Early English to Decorated c. 1288. Other noteworthy features of the interior are the Easter sepulchre (c. 1300), the foliage ornamentation of which is beautifully natural; and the organ screen of a somewhat earlier date. The great central tower is Early English as far as the first storey, the continuation dates from 1307. The total height is 271 ft.; and the tower contains the bell, Great Tom of Lincoln, weighing over 5 tons. The dimensions of the cathedral internally are—nave, 252 × 79.6 × 80 ft.; choir, 158 × 82 × 72 ft.; angel choir, which includes presbytery and lady chapel, 166 × 44 × 72 ft.; main transept, 220 × 63 × 74 ft.; choir transept, 166 × 44 × 72 ft. The west towers are 206 ft. high.

The buildings of the close that call for notice are the chapter-house of ten sides, 60 ft. diameter, 42 ft. high, with a fine vestibule of the same height, built c. 1225, and therefore the earliest of English polygonal chapter-houses, and the library, a building of 1675, which contains a small museum. The picturesque episcopal palace contains work of the date of St Hugh, and the great hall is mainly Early English. There is some Decorated work, and much Perpendicular, including the gateway. It fell into disuse after the Reformation, but by extensive restoration was brought back to its proper use at the end of the 19th century. Among the most famous bishops were St Hugh of Avalon (1186–1200); Robert Grosseteste (1235–1253); Richard Flemming (1420–1431), founder of Lincoln College, Oxford; William Smith (1495–1514), founder of Brasenose College, Oxford; William Wake (1705–1716); and Edmund Gibson (1716–1723). Every stall has produced a prelate or cardinal. The see covers almost the whole of the county, with very small portions of Norfolk and Yorkshire, and it included Nottinghamshire until the formation of the bishopric of Southwell in 1884. At its earliest formation, when Remigius, almoner of the abbey of Fécamp, removed the seat of the bishopric here from Dorchester in Oxfordshire shortly after the Conquest, it extended from the Humber to the Thames, eastward beyond Cambridge, and westward beyond Leicester. It was reduced, however, by the formation of the sees of Ely, Peterborough and Oxford, and by the rearrangement of diocesan boundaries in 1837.

The remains of Roman Lincoln are of the highest interest. The Newport Arch or northern gate of Lindum is one of the most perfect specimens of Roman architecture in England. It consists of a great arch flanked by two smaller arches, of which one remains. The Roman Ermine Street runs through it, leading northward almost in a straight line to the Humber. Fragments of the town wall remain at various points; a large quantity of coins and other relics have been discovered; and remains of a burial-place and buildings unearthed. Of these last the most important is the series of column-bases, probably belonging to a Basilica, beneath a house in the street called Bail Gate, adjacent to the Newport Arch. A villa in Greetwell; a tesselated pavement, a milestone and other relics in the cloister; an altar unearthed at the church of St Swithin, are among many other discoveries. Among churches, apart from the minster, two of outstanding interest are those of St Mary-le-Wigford and St Peter-at-Gowts (i.e. sluice-gates), both in the lower part of High Street. Their towers, closely similar, are fine examples of perhaps very early Norman work, though they actually possess the characteristics of pre-Conquest workmanship. Bracebridge church shows similar early work; but as a whole the churches of Lincoln show plainly the results of the siege of 1644, and such buildings as St Botolph’s, St Peter’s-at-Arches and St Martin’s are of the period 1720–1740. Several churches are modern buildings on ancient sites. There were formerly three small priories, five friaries and four hospitals in or near Lincoln. The preponderance of friaries over priories of monks is explained by the fact that the cathedral was served by secular canons. Bishop Grosseteste was the devoted patron of the friars, particularly the Franciscans, who were always in their day the town missionaries. The Greyfriars, near St Swithin’s church, is a picturesque two-storied building of the 13th century. Lincoln is rich in early domestic architecture. The building known as John of Gaunt’s stables, actually St Mary’s Guild Hall, is of two storeys, with rich Norman doorway and moulding. The Jews’ House is another fine example of 12th-century building; and Norman remains appear in several other houses, such as Deloraine Court and the House of Aaron the Jew. Lincoln Castle, lying W. of the cathedral, was newly founded by William the Conqueror when Remigius decided to found his minster under its protection. The site, with its artificial mounds, is of much earlier, probably British, date. There are Norman remains in the Gateway Tower; parts of the walls are of this period, and the keep dates from the middle of the 12th century. Among medieval gateways, the Exchequer Gate, serving as the finance-office of the chapter, is a fine specimen of 13th-century work. Pottergate is of the 14th century, and Stonebow in High Street of the 15th, with the Guildhall above it. St Dunstan’s Lock is the name, corrupted from Dunestall, now applied to the entrance to the street where a Jewish quarter was situated; here lived the Christian boy afterwards known as “little St Hugh,” who was asserted to have been crucified by the Jews in 1255. His shrine remains in the S. choir aisle of the minster. Other antiquities are the Perpendicular conduit of St Mary in High Street and the High Bridge, carrying High Street over the Witham, which is almost unique in England as retaining some of the old houses upon it.

Among modern public buildings are the county hall, old and new corn exchanges and public library. Educational establishments include a grammar school, a girls’ high school, a science and art school and a theological college. The arboretum in Monks Road is the principal pleasure-ground; and there is a race-course. The principal industry is the manufacture of agricultural machinery and implements; there are also iron foundries and maltings, and a large trade in corn and agricultural produce. The parliamentary borough, returning one member, falls between the Gainsborough division of the county on the N., and that of Sleaford on the S. Area, 3755 acres.

History.—The British Lindun, which, according to the geography of Claudius Ptolemaeus, was the chief town of the Coritani, was probably the nucleus of the Roman town of Lindum. This was at first a Roman legionary fortress, and on the removal of the troops northward was converted into a municipality with the title of colonia. Such important structural remains as have been described attest the rank and importance of the place, which, however, did not attain a very great size. Its bishop attended the council of Arles in 314, and Lincoln (Lindocolina, Lincolle, Nicole) is mentioned in the Itinerary of Antoninus written about 320. Although said to have been captured by Hengest in 475 and recovered by Ambrosius in the following year, the next authentic mention of the city is Bede’s record that Paulinus preached in Lindsey in 628 and built a stone church at Lincoln in which he consecrated Honorius archbishop of Canterbury. During their inroads into Mercia, the Danes in 877 established themselves at Lincoln, which was one of the five boroughs recovered by King Edmund in 941. A mint established here in the reign of Alfred was maintained until the reign of Edward I. (Mint Street turning from High Street near the Stonebow recalls its existence.) At the time of the Domesday Survey Lincoln was governed by twelve Lawmen, relics of Danish rule, each with hereditable franchises of sac and soc. Whereas it had rendered £20 annually to King Edward, and £10 to the earl, it then rendered £100. There had been 1150 houses, but 240 had been destroyed since the time of King Edward. Of these 166 had suffered by the raising of the castle by William I. in 1068 partly on the site of the Roman camp. The strength of the position of the castle brought much fighting on Lincoln. In 1141 King Stephen regained both castle and city from the empress Maud, but was attacked and captured in the same year at the “Joust of Lincoln.” In 1144 he besieged the castle, held by the earl of Chester, and recovered it as a pledge in 1146. In 1101 it was held by Gerard de Camville for Prince John and was besieged by William Longchamp, Richard’s chancellor, in vain; in 1210 it stood a siege by the partisans of the French prince Louis, who were defeated at the battle called Lincoln Fair on the 19th of May 1217. Granted by Henry III. to William Longepée, earl of Salisbury, in 1224, the castle descended by the marriage of his descendant Alice to Thomas Plantagenet, and became part of the duchy of Lancaster.

In 1157 Henry II. gave the citizens their first charter, granting them the city at a fee-farm rent and all the liberties which they had had under William II., with their gild merchant for themselves and the men of the county as they had then. In 1200 the citizens obtained release from all but pleas of the Crown without the walls, and pleas of external tenure, and were given the pleas of the Crown within the city according to the customs of the city of London, on which those of Lincoln were modelled. The charter also gave them quittance of toll and lastage throughout the kingdom, and of certain other dues. In 1210 the citizens owed the exchequer £100 for the privilege of having a mayor, but the office was abolished by Henry III. and by Edward I. in 1290, though restored by the charter of 1300. In 1275 the citizens claimed the return of writs, assize of bread and ale and other royal rights, and in 1301 Edward I., when confirming the previous charters, gave them quittance of murage, pannage, pontage and other dues. The mayor and citizens were given criminal jurisdiction in 1327, when the burghmanmot held weekly in the gildhall since 1272 by the mayor and bailiffs was ordered to hear all local pleas which led to friction with the judges of assize. The city became a separate county by charter of 1409, when it was decreed that the bailiffs should henceforth be sheriffs and the mayor the king’s escheator, and the mayor and sheriffs with four others justices of the peace with defined jurisdiction. As the result of numerous complaints of inability to pay the fee-farm rent of £180 Edward IV. enlarged the bounds of the city in 1466, while Henry VIII. in 1546 gave the citizens four advowsons, and possibly also in consequence of declining trade the city markets were made free of tolls in 1554. Incorporated by Charles I. in 1628 under a common council with 13 aldermen, 4 coroners and other officers, Lincoln surrendered its charters in 1684, but the first charter was restored after the Revolution, and was in force till 1834.

Parliaments were held at Lincoln in 1301, 1316 and 1327, and the city returned two burgesses from 1295 to 1885, when it lost one member. After the 13th century the chief interests of Lincoln were ecclesiastical and commercial. As early as 1103 Odericus declared that a rich citizen of Lincoln kept the treasure of King Magnus of Norway, supplying him with all he required, and there is other evidence of intercourse with Scandinavia. There was an important Jewish colony, Aaron of Lincoln being one of the most influential financiers in the kingdom between 1166 and 1186. It was probably jealousy of their wealth that brought the charge of the crucifixion of “little St Hugh” in 1255 upon the Jewish community. Made a staple of wool, leather and skins in 1291, famous for its scarlet cloth in the 13th century, Lincoln had a few years of great prosperity, but with the transference of the staple to Boston early in the reign of Edward III., its trade began to decrease. The craft gilds remained important until after the Reformation, a pageant still being held in 1566. The fair now held during the last whole week of April would seem to be identical with that granted by Charles II. in 1684. Edward III. authorized a fair from St Botolph’s day to the feast of SS Peter and Paul in 1327, and William III. gave one for the first Wednesday in September in 1696, while the present November fair is, perhaps, a survival of that granted by Henry IV. in 1409 for fifteen days before the feast of the Deposition of St Hugh.

See Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report, xiv., appendix pt. 8; John Ross, Civitas Lincolina, from its municipal and other Records (London, 1870); J. G. Williams, “Lincoln Civic Insignia,” Lincolnshire Notes and Queries, vols. vi.-viii. (Horncastle, 1901–1905); Victoria County History, Lincolnshire.