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.
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.
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,
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 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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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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