Sunday, April 01, 2007

Lincoln II: The Cathedral

The famous west front of Lincoln Cathedral.

The building of Lincoln Cathedral was begun soon after the Conquest by Bishop Remigius, who died in1092, before the original Norman cathedral was completed. Much of the building of the present cathedral was begun under St. Hugh, in the twelfth century. After his death, St. Hugh's grave at the east end of the cathedral became a focus of pilgrimage. Although his shrine was destroyed in the sixteenth century (in the time of Henry VIII), there is still a decorated plinth in the "Angel Choir" on which his relics—specifically, his head in a jeweled casket—were displayed.

The south side of Lincoln Cathedral, from the ruins of the medieval bishop's palace.

Another macabre feature of Lincoln Cathedral is the tomb of Queen Eleanor of Castile's viscera. When she died near Lincoln in 1290, her grieving husband, King Edward I, had her body embalmed for the long journey back to Westminster Abbey. Her viscera were buried in Lincoln Cathedral. As the funeral procession made its way south, the king had a cross erected at each resting point—the remains of one of these Eleanor crosses stands in Lincoln Castle, and Charing Cross in London takes its name from another such cross (no longer extant). Also buried in Lincoln Cathedral, in a rather plain tomb in the sanctuary, is Katherine Swynford, the wife of John of Gaunt and heroine of Anya Seton's novel, Katherine.
The Dean's Eye, the medieval rose window in the large north transept (click to enlarge).

"Crazy Vaulting" in the roof of St. Hugh's Choir.

The statue of Tennyson on the northeast side of the cathedral.

The cathedral and market square, seen from the walls of Lincoln Castle.

My interior photographs of the nave don't at all do justice to the awe-inspiring internal space of the cathedral. To get a sense of that, you just have to visit. You can see some scenes of the interior of Lincoln Cathedral in the movie The Da Vinci Code, in which Lincoln Cathedral doubles as Westminster Abbey.

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