Cakes, a Castle and Cathedral – What to do in Lincoln

posted in: Blog, UK | 55
view of Lincoln Cathedral
Beautiful Lincoln Cathedral

Jess says: At the start of the summer, mum, dad, Robert and I spent two lovely nights in Lincoln. We had a fantastic time, and I was surprised by how beautiful and picturesque the city was.

While dad and Robert drove, mum and I took the train up so that we could spend an extra night in Lincoln. We were both astounded at how quick and easy the journey from Kings Cross to Lincoln was. It took about an hour and a half to get to Newark North Gate, where we changed and got on a short (and tiny) train to Lincoln Central. The journey was very convenient and relaxing, and the views of the countryside were really nice.

We were staying at The Rest, an old church which is now a boutique hotel and cafe. It is on a road named Steep Hill, which was crowned the best street in Britain 2012. When we visited it was sunny weather, so it was absolutely stunning. The road is full of tearooms, ice cream shops, sweet shops, bakeries and a fudge shop, and there was a market at the top. The market is in a brilliant location, as it is sandwiched right between Lincoln Cathedral and Lincoln Castle.

Room at The Rest hotel, Lincoln
Our room at The Rest

Our rooms at The Rest were furnished well and the beds were ridiculously comfy, although the walls were thin. We were able to hear what the people in the other room was saying, which was quite annoying. Breakfast was also delicious and we loved the crossants, although it was slightly weird that you had to ask for jam, butter and napkins if you wanted them.

Our entire trip to the Midlands included Lincoln, Nottingham and Leicester, but my favourite part of the entire holiday was going up the hill and looking at the beautiful tearooms, houses and the Cathedral and Castle. It was truly stunning, and I really want to go back!

Here are my highlights of the trip, and what I think everyone should visit when they travel to Lincoln.

Lincoln Cathedral

The choir practising in Lincoln Cathedral
The choir were practising in Lincoln Cathedral when we visited

Mum and I were given a tour around Lincoln Cathedral by a lovely woman named Dorothy Moss, and were captivated by its beauty. The Cathedral is the third largest in Britain (after London’s St Paul’s and Salisbury) and it is absolutely incredible to look at. The Cathedral is a mix of architecture ranging from Medieval to Victorian times, and the stained glass windows looked unbelievable. It was strange to think that the Cathedral had once been painted different colours and was covered with ornate patterns – this was shown by the small remainders of paint on the walls.

I was fascinated with the story of an jongleur (a contortionist). Like the majority of people in Medieval times, he could not read Latin. Therefore, he had no way of communicating with God. To make up for this, he asked if he would perform the best show possible in the Cathedral overnight. When the Cathedral opened the following morning, they found him dead on the floor – he had worked himself so hard that he died! Luckily, he had a smile on his face…

There was so much information to find out about the Cathedral. We learnt about the juxtaposition of architecture,

A tomb with the brass missing, taken by Oliver Cromwell!
A tomb with the brass missing, taken by Oliver Cromwell!

the Blood Libel that took place in the area and the Cathedral’s involvement with the Monarchy. Mum and I were amazed by the floor, as people’s graves were just silhouettes and did not have any detail. Dorothy told us that this was because Oliver Cromwell removed all of the brass from the graves as it was unnecessary. His reasoning was that the dead didn’t need it, and that the money it would fetch should go to the government!

After the tour, Dorothy showed us the Jew’s Houses – the oldest stone houses in all of Lincoln. The tour was extremely interesting and exciting, and the Cathedral is breathtaking. I definitely recommend a visit, whether you are going to take a tour or just have a quick look. Mum was disappointed that we didn’t have time to take a rooftop tour.

Lincoln Castle

Lincoln Castle and Cathedral
The Castle and Cathedral, built by William the Conquerer are so near each other

Lincoln Castle was a fantastic place to visit, and I would definitely recommend it to everyone of every age. It is comprised of three sections: the Magna Carta, the Victorian prison and the wall tour. For the Magna Carta section, there are fascinating videos to watch, and you get to see three treaties – a 1215 Magna Carta, the charter of the forest from 1217 and a 1225 Magna Carta. This was fascinating, and the video was really well done. The Victorian prison was extremely interesting, and I was shocked at how segregated the prison was. Something that stood out to me was the Chapel. The idea then was that prisoners should be segregated all the time, even at chapel, so the inmates weren’t allowed to see each other. Instead they stood in tiny cubicles which could be shut, so that they could just see walls on either side of them, and whoever was running the service. This was unbelievable, and Robert and I had great fun in locking each other into the boxes!

The Chapel in the Victorian prison at Lincoln Castle
The Chapel was so strange

The prison was full of videos, dressing up and astounding information, and I loved it. However, my favourite part of the castle was the wall tour. This was brilliant – you are given audio guides and walk up some stairs until you are on the walls of the castle. The views of the cathedral and the rest of Lincoln were breath-taking, and the audio guide was really interesting. It was probably the highlight of my trip, and mum is going to write about it at a later date.

The Walls of Lincoln Castle
It was brilliant being able to walk around the walls of Lincoln Castle

Museum of Lincolnshire Life
Mum and I thought that we would only spend about half an hour walking through the Museum of Lincolnshire Life, but we ended up taking up so much time there that we were the last people to leave when it closed! The museum tells you all about life in Lincolnshire, and is really interesting. We both took audio guides and started walking through the first section of the museum. This was all about how homes used to be like in Lincoln, and I enjoyed looking at the kitchen and learning how food was cooked and how clothes were washed.

Next, we learnt about Lincolnshire’s army regiment. This was unbelievable, engaging and quite sad, and there was a lot to see and watch. Mum and I barely made it onto the transport section before the museum was closed, and we wanted to stay for longer. The museum is also great for kids as there is a family audio tour and lots of additional information for the younger visitors. Mum and I learnt a lot and had a really great time.

An old fashioned bed, with bowl for a night-time toilet break!
An old fashioned bed, with bowl for a night-time toilet break, as seen as the Museum of Lincolnshire Life

The Collection
Mum, dad, Robert and I all visited The Collection, which is a gathering of objects, books and paintings that are all related to Lincoln. It is situated over four different sites and we visited two – the main building and the Usher Gallery.

In the main building of The Collection, there are two main rooms. The first one we visited is mainly aimed at adults, although there is a booklet for children to complete that Robert enjoyed. It is all about important things and places to do with Lincoln, and was full of portraits, letters, jewels, pictures and more.

A particular highlight of that room was seeing the Habeas Corpus (something which I had never expected to see) and the Heneage Jewel; this was a beautiful locket with Elizabeth I’s face on it. It was decorated with precious stones, which was really cool.

Next door was a room which was more kid friendly. It was all about Lincoln throughout history, and contained fossils, a really old boat and lots of opportunities to interact with screens and create things. While I created a mosaic and helped a Viking learn how to budget, Robert tried on clothes from different eras and mum and dad learnt about dinosaurs and the Middle Ages. This was great fun, and we also enjoyed looking through the Usher Gallery at different paintings, plates and wristwatches.

If you have free time in Lincoln, I think that families will have particular fun going through the second room of The Collection, as it is full of lots of things for kids, and there is so much to see and do.

Lincoln Bus Tour
I really enjoyed the Lincoln bus tour. It started at the Cathedral, and drove all the way around the city. Due to issues with the normal bus, we were shown around in one that wasn’t open top, but that was fine. I had never known that Lincoln was such a historical city, and that it used to be a really grotty city during the Industrial Revolution. It was so dirty that Queen Victoria asked to have her windows pulled down when she passed through Lincoln on the train, as she didn’t want to look at it!

Visit Lincoln Bus tour outside Lincoln Cathedral
Visit Lincoln Bus tour outside Lincoln Cathedral

Lincoln was a thriving city in Roman times, and reminders of their influence can be found all over the city. We saw ruins of Roman walls and arches all over the city, and learnt loads. We also went down near the river, which was very pretty and which is surrounded by shops and restaurants (and a huge cinema).

The person taking the tour was really kind and interesting, and I learnt a lot. The only annoying part of the tour was that the bus moved quite quickly, so we sometimes couldn’t see what she was saying. However, I really liked the tour, so much so that we went around in one go instead of getting off halfway through as planned! The tour took around 50 minutes, and you can get in and off at any point throughout the trip.

Where to Eat
Lincoln is full of places to eat, and we had a hard time deciding where to go. Mum and I decided to visit The Burton Road Chippy, as it was named the Best Independent Fish and Chip Shop in the UK 2015. My battered haddock and mum’s fish cakes were very nice, but it was nothing out of the ordinary. I’m not sure what made their fish and chips “the best”, although the prices were decent and the food was fresh and local.

Mum and I bought incredible Eton mess, lemon meringue and peanut butter fudge from Roly’s Fudge. Our whole family also enjoyed ice cream from Daisy Made Farm Parlour, and I tried apple pie flavour!

Enjoying a scone at Bell's Tea room, Lincoln
Enjoying our scones!

We enjoyed scones from Bells’ Tea Rooms, where everyone was friendly and the service was fast. I had a fruit scone with cream and jam, and mum had a cheese scone with butter. This was mouthwatering, and I could have eaten another one…

The Castle Hotel has a restaurant named Reform, which mum and I ate at. It was quite a smart restaurant, and everyone was really nice. I enjoyed a tomato broth and a halloumi dish, and mum had fish. Although the food was delicious, mum was slightly shaken as they gave us crab which we asked them not to, and she almost ate it. We both drank teas afterwards, and I liked the large variety of speciality teas they had on offer.

Mexican food is my favourite type of cuisine, which is why I loved having supper at Tequilas – an authentic Mexican restaurant. While Robert had guacamole and mum had nachos, dad and I tried frijoles. These were fantastic, and the food was fab and the prices good.

Overall, I utterly loved Lincoln, and really want to go back. It is such a stunning, picturesque city and I could happily have spent another few days exploring the city. There is something for something and it is perfect for families, but if I had to pick one place to go to, it would have to be the castle. It was interesting, exciting and shocking, and I liked how they talked about things other than how the upper class lived, which is what normally happens at castles. Mum and I were in the city by 12:45, and we could have been there earlier if we had taken the earlier train. It was really simple to get there, and I really think that it would make an amazing bank holiday weekend holiday destination.

Lincoln is tiny so you don’t need a car to get around, and there is a lot to do in such a small space. I know that this probably sounds like an advert for Lincoln, but I really loved it and can’t believe that I hadn’t been there before!

Disclosure: We were fortunate enough to holiday in Lincoln with the help of Visit Lincoln, which arranged our accommodation and passes to many of the attractions. However, this didn’t influence our opinions which are very much our own.

You can get a joint family ticket to visit the Castle and the Cathedral for £40, or you can just pay to walk around the walls (£13 per family). It is free to go into the grounds. It is also free to visit The Collection. The bus tour costs ​£10 for adults and this includes two free children under 16 per adult. Rooms at The Rest cost from £89 per night. We had adjoining rooms which is really handy for families.


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55 Responses

  1. Teresa Bowen

    I’m so glad you enjoyed your visit to Lincoln. It is a vastly underrated city with lots to do and beautiful places to explore.

  2. Kelly Lloyd

    Would have to second Teresa on that – I have family that live in the town center and on the outskirts and it really is such a beautiful place – which is widely underestimated! The Cathedral is gorgeous, thanks for an interesting read.

  3. Kate Thompson

    I’ve never been to Lincoln, the Cathedral would be an aiming place to sing. (I was a chorister and my youngest son is one now). Plus, I am a cheese scone addict, and those scones look amazing!!

    • Jess

      Everything was delicious, and the scones were the best. I never had considered visiting Lincoln before, but I am so glad we went. 🙂

  4. Trish

    I live in Lincolnshire and yet you have told me lots of things I didn’t know about Lincoln! Have happy memories of climbing up and down Steep Hill (with my son in a pushchair!) and really need to go back now the castle has been ‘refurbished’.

  5. Jennifer Howze

    The castle sounds amazing. The chapel segregation is so tragic. It’s always eye-opening to hear how prisoners used to be treated. Great review

    • Jess

      Thank you very much! The chapel was shocking, and I never thought that prisoners would be segregated that much.

  6. Emma

    The Rest looks beautiful, as does Lincoln. I have only ever been to one, to a friend’s beautiful big Indian Wedding, it was fabulous. I need to go back and discover more, and now I know where to start (and I will pop in to Trish’s for a cup of tea!) 😀

  7. Sonia

    Roly’s Fudge is just amazing isn’t it! My favourite is the sea salt, it is divine!!! The rooms at The Rest look lovely.

  8. sam fernley

    Lincoln is a trip we are going to do this summer, to the castle especially, with it being newly reopened. I love cathedrals and travel all around to visit them so looking forward to seeing Lincolns, looks spectacular. This was such a useful guide.

  9. Erika

    What beautiful city and I am so glad you enjoyed yourself. The history sounds so interesting, I would definitely take in a tour if visited!

    • Jess

      It was utterly stunning, and I learnt a lot. I thought that the castle in particular was fantastic.

  10. Kara

    I have to admit that Lincoln is not a place I would have thought of visiting, but I have now added it to my list. The Cathedral is stunning and I love exploring castles

  11. Rebecca Smith

    I’ve never been to Lincoln and would probably have visited the castle and cathedral if I did visit, but it is handy to know of other good places to go!

  12. Cathy (MummyTravels)

    I haven’t been to Lincoln for years but remember it as an unexpectedly lovely city – we stopped overnight on the way to York and could happily have stayed longer. The cathedral and castle were both wonderful, though that would have been before the castle’s overhaul, and steep hill was distinctly steep! I’d very much like to go back, especially after reading this.

    • Jess

      It really is a lovely city – there is a lot to do in such a small space. The castle is amazing after the renovation, and I definitely recommend a visit. 🙂

  13. Michelle

    Your room looks lovely! such a shame the walls were so thin though. I’ve had this in a hotel before unfortunately xx

    • Sarah Ebner

      It was fine the second night, when it was our family next door, so would be absolutely okay if you were holidaying with the kids. The interconnecting rooms are great actually.

  14. Tami

    Jess, you did a great job on this review. It made me want to go for sure. Sounds like the prison and walls were especially interesting. Our next big trip to plan will be to England, so I’ll keep this tucked away for future reference!

    • Jess

      Thank you very much! I really enjoyed visiting Lincoln, and had a fab time at the Castle. I really think you should visit 🙂

  15. Mags

    I love that hotel room. Even with the thin wall, the decor is amazing! And WOW, that cathedral!

    • Sarah Ebner

      The Cathedral is absolutely stunning, and the hotel was a lovely place to stay and in such a perfect location. I’m sure you would love it!

  16. Elaine J. Masters

    What fun with or without kids. I’d love to stay in an old church and explore the ramparts as you did. There’s so much history in that countryside to explore. What great memories you’re giving the kids too.

    • Sarah Ebner

      I’ve always loved history, so the children have no choice! Luckily they seem to like it too. And it makes places so much more exciting.

  17. Amanda

    Lincoln looks like a beautiful place to visit! That chapel is so strange, I’ve never seen anything like it.

  18. noel

    I don’t know this area and city at all but do need to discover more about the English countryside. What beautiful architecture and history and I would definitely visit if I go back to England.

  19. Lesley

    Sounds like a great place and I love that it’s so tiny that you don’t need a car. We love walking on foot to explore a new place.

  20. RaW | Ramble and Wander

    I’ve been hearing about Lincoln ever since I was still living in London back in the 90s but never got around to visiting it, mainly because I didn’t really know what to expect from the town. But the next time I’m in the UK visiting my family, I think I should try to make my way to Lincoln and check it out myself. It looks quite lovely!

    • Jess

      You definitely should – I had such a fab time and really want to go back! Everything was so interesting, but the castle has to be one of the best I’ve been to.

  21. Anda

    This looks like my kind of town: castles and cathedrals. The inside of Lincoln Cathedral looks grandiose. It reminds me of some of the Cathedrals I visited in London (of course it does!)

  22. Jackie

    The fact that prisoners had to be segregated, even in the chapel is incredible! The story of the jongleur working himself to death is such a “fun” fact. I love historical details like this because they often are what brings a place to life. Lincoln looks like an interesting city to explore and its good to know how easy it is from Kings Cross! Thanks for sharing.

    • Jess

      We had such a good time, and I couldn’t believe the chapel! I guess that it is a good idea to keep prisoners separated to stop them from spreading ideas and planning crimes, but that did seem a bit insane…

  23. Laura

    The picture you got of the prison chapel boxes is priceless. They really went to all lengths to keep people apart! The castle looks like a great way to spend the day in Lincoln. I love seeing how people lived and functioned back then. So unique.

    • Jess

      The castle was brilliantly done and I really enjoyed it. I think that this is partly due to the fact that they didn’t focus on how rich people lived, but on the Victorian prisoners. This was fascinating!

  24. Victoria

    What a lovely and thorough post! You must make your mom so proud; great summer passtime as well. And- we all learned about Lincoln! Thank you

  25. Penny @ OnePennyTourist

    Oooh, I’ve never been to Lincoln. I noticed they have event on right now – think it’s still going – with decorated statues around the city (ala Shaun the Sheep, Paddington etc) which looked a lot of fun too.

    The city is definitely on my to-do list with both Castle and Cathedral to visit!

  26. Sonya Cisco

    What gorgeous buildings – looks like a fab place to visit – love the quirky chapel and the story behind it – never come across anything like it!

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