cathedral city and county town of Lincolnshire, England, UK

For other places with the same name, see Lincoln (disambiguation).

Lincoln is the county town of Lincolnshire, with a population of 97,541 in 2019. It has a well-preserved medieval centre, with a cathedral and castle atop its cobbled Steep Hill.

Understand edit

Robin Hood keeps his coat of Lincoln Green nice and dry across the wetland

Much of prehistoric Lincolnshire was wetland, but a scarp of chalk and sandstone ran north-south, a natural transport corridor and vantage point. The River Witham broke through midway, so you had to descend from the scarp, squelch across the valley then climb the other side. The Romans turned this route into Ermine Street and colonised the north slope as Lindum. The river was navigable yet the upper settlement was flood-free, so Lindum prospered through agriculture and as an ecclestiastical centre. Thus Lincoln became a substantial medieval cathedral city; its woollen wear was dyed with blue woad and yellow meld to create "Lincoln Green".

The city saw strife with 12th century civil wars and anti-semitic pogroms, French incursions, the Dissolution of the Monasteries which cut ecclesiastic income, and the 17th century civil wars. It recovered with advances in agriculture of the Georgian era, especially the drainage of Lincolnshire which greatly increased arable land. It developed heavy industry in the 19th century but from the visitors' point of view had two strokes of luck. The Great North Road (later A1) took a more westerly route from Peterborough through Newark to avoid the Humber, as did the London-York railway, and city industry was down in the valley not up on the scarp. This meant that the medieval centre wasn't re-developed, and remains one of the most attractive in Britain.

1 Visitor Information Centre is at 9 Castle Hill at the crossroads with Bailgate and the cathedral precinct's Exchequer Gate. It's open M-Sa 10:00-17:00, Su 11:00-16:00, tel +44 1522 545458.

Get in edit

By plane edit

Manchester Airport (MAN IATA) will often be the most convenient, for its range of flights at competitive prices and good onward transport, see below.

Other airports lie closer but have far fewer flights or onward connections. They do have car hire, which you'll need to explore Lincolnshire beyond the city. They include Leeds-Bradford (LBA IATA), East Midlands Airport (EMA IATA) near Derby and Humberside (HUY IATA} towards Hull. Doncaster Airport (DSA IATA) closed in 2022.

By train edit

LNER trains run every two hours from London Kings Cross, taking two hours via Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark Northgate. Other slower connections involve changing at Peterborough. From cities to the north (eg York), you usually change at Newark, though two trains a day shortcut cross-country from Doncaster.

Northern trains run hourly from Sheffield, taking 90 min via Worksop, Retford and Gainsborough. From Manchester Airport or Piccadilly, take the Transpennine Express to Sheffield and change.

East Midlands trains trundle across the Midlands hourly from Leicester via Loughborough, Nottingham, Newark Castle (a mile west of Newark Northgate) and Hykeham, and continue from Lincoln to Market Rasen and Grimsby.

1 Lincoln railway station is central on St Mary's St, in the valley at the foot of old town. It has a staffed ticket office and machines, a cafe, ATM and toilets. There is step-free access to all platforms. Plusbus supplements are available on fares to this station.

You might use Hykeham railway station for the southwest fringe of town, but it's probably easier to continue to Lincoln then get a bus.

By bus edit

Jew's House on Steep Hill

National Express runs twice daily taking 5-6 hours from London Victoria via Nottingham, where you may have to change onto the bus starting from Birmingham. Both services continue to Hull. Megabus doesn't run to Lincoln.

Stagecoach buses converge on the city from across Lincolnshire, for instance from Grimsby, Market Rasen, Louth, Skegness, Horncastle, Sleaford, Grantham, Gainsborough and Scunthorpe.

Lincoln bus station is across the street from the railway station. It's modern, effectively a single corridor: buses to the cathedral area leave from Stands C and D. There's a cafe but more choice in the adjacent streets.

By road edit

From the south follow A1 to Newark (where the junction is often congested) then A46. This loops north side of Lincoln and continues to Grimsby.

A15 follows the line of the Roman road from Peterborough and Sleaford, looping east side of the city and continuing to Scunthorpe, Humber Bridge and Hull. It's an undivided highway, often arrow-straight so people speed, but with many blind spots and pitfalls.

From the north the usual route is A1 to Markham Moor then A57 and Dunham toll bridge (car 40p). You could also turn onto M62 / M180 east then A15 south.

Don't bring a car into city centre unless you've planned ahead where you're going to park. The multistorey car park north side of the bus station has 1000 spaces and several EV charge points. The Park & Ride is northeast, by the junction of A15 and A46.

Get around edit

Walk wherever possible. The medieval spine of town isn't suitable for anything more elaborate than a pack-mule or hand-cart. A sightseeing bus circulates in summer.

Stagecoach is the main bus operator but there are ten others. Buses you might use are the 2, 31, 33, 34 south for Bomber Command, 3, 8, 18 for Museum of Lincolnshire Life, and 16, 48, 49, 83 southwest for Hykeham.

The Walk & Ride bus doesn't come into the station, but circles Silver St, the cathedral, Lincoln Hotel, Bailgate, The Lawn, Castle Square, Park St and so back to Silver St. It runs every 20 min.

Car hire is available from Europcar, Hertz, Thrifty and Enterprise

Taxi operators are City Cars (+44 1522 899069), Dan's (+44 7929 633469) and Direct Cars (+44 1522 567567). There's a taxi rank by the railway station.

Hire Bike Lincoln[dead link] have shared pedal and e-bikes. Casual use is £3 / hour up to 3 hours, or you can register for longer use. They're more useful for the suburbs than exploring the old centre: there are docking stations at Newport Arch and Union St but none just by the castle or cathedral.

See edit

  • 1 Lincoln Cathedral (Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lincoln), Minster Yard LN2 1PX, +44 1522 561600, . M-Sa 10:00-16:00, Su 12:00-15:00. One of the finest Gothic buildings in Europe, at the heart of the medieval city. It was completed in 1092 but torn asunder by Britain's strongest recorded earthquake in 1185. Rebuilt, it became a great ecclesiastical centre, though the tower collapsed in 1237 and the spire in 1548. Notable features are the vaulted ceilings, the rose windows, the 1422 Medieval and 17th century Wren libraries, the 18th century clock tower, and the baleful Lincoln Imp - look for him just left of the great east window. 21st century repairs found that many flying buttresses had lost contact with the walls, so the cathedral was being kept upright by little more than the power of prayer, which perhaps has advanced since the last major collapse, and is another motive for the regular Anglican services here. Adult £9, conc £7.20, child £4.80.    
  • Exchequer Gate is the impressive 14th century gatehouse by the cathedral west entrance. This was where tenants of church land came to pay rent - lots of them, for it was a big diocese. Their money was counted out on a chequered cloth, and "Exchequer" came to mean the government finance department.
  • Eastgate on the north side of the cathedral led out from the Roman settlement of Lindum Colonia, with a fragment of the 3rd century wall and gatetower visible. Round the corner south, Priory Gate was the cathedral precinct's east entrance, but the present structure is a 19th century replica.
  • Medieval Bishops Palace, Minster Yard LN2 1PU (south side of cathedral), +44 1522 527468. Closed ufn. This was built in the 12th century when the bishop was the temporal landlord of a great swathe of eastern England. It was ruined in the Civil Wars and never rebuilt; Victorian additions became a hotel. It's closed for restoration throughout 2022.    
  • 2 Lincoln Castle, Castle Hill LN1 3AA, +44 1552 554559. Daily Apr-Sep 10:00-17:00, Oct-Mar 10:00-16:00. There's been a fort here since Roman times and probably earlier, but the stone castle was begun in 1068 by William the Conqueror. It has a large enclosure within its curtain walls, which from the 18th century was the obvious place to site a court house, jail and gibbet. So it feels Victorian / Georgian, though it holds an original copy of Magna Carta, and its most striking features are the jail museum and apparatus of punishment. The Crown Court is still in use. Adult £14.50, conc £13.50, child £8.    
Church rents were paid at Exchequer Gate
  • Westgate Tower 100 yards north of the castle is not an outlying fortification but a water tower built in 1911. The city water supply obviously needed improving after a typhoid epidemic claimed 113 lives in 1904/05.
  • The Lawn is a Greek-revival building just west of the castle on Union St. It was completed in 1820 as a lunatic asylum for "persons of the superior class who shall contribute to the general expense of the establishment according to their ability . . . " in which spirit it became an events venue and then the offices of a coffee company. You can still look in on the walled garden in daylight hours but the prize exhibit, the Joseph Banks tropical glasshouse, moved to Woodside Wildlife Park in 2016.
  • Bailgate is the thoroughfare heading north from the city crossroads between cathedral and castle. Circles of stones set in the road mark the foundations of Roman pillars along Ermine Street, and there's an ancient well at the junction with Westgate. Newport Arch is the 3rd century north gate of Roman Lindum. Here you emerge from the traffic restricted area; the route continues north into B1226 and then A15 all the way to the Humber. The Romans crossed by ferry at Winteringham then headed northwest to Eboracum, York.
  • Steep Hill is the well-named street descending south from the city crossroads. It's a delightful cobbled lane lined with old buildings, but cling onto the handrails. Norman House may have belonged to Aaron the financier (1125-1186), who advanced money for many Norman abbeys. Jew's House is late 12th century Romanesque: it was seized from its Jewish owner during the anti-semitic violence of that century, and is now a restaurant. Jew's Court adjacent is now a bookshop but also hosts the Lincolnshire Synagogue[dead link]. The descending lane narrows into The Strait, then levels out as High St, pedestrianised but more modern.
  • 3 The Collection, 1 Danes Terrace LN2 1LP, +44 1522 782040. Th-M 10:00-16:00. Museum purpose-built to exhibit the area's many archaeological finds. It includes the extensive Usher Gallery of art. Free.
  • Temple Gardens is the bosky green space between The Collection and Bishop's Palace.
16th-century High Bridge
  • 4 Brayford Pool or Mere is the marina at the upper limit of navigation on the River Witham, though small craft can continue on the Foss Dyke all the way to the Trent at Torksey, thence to the Humber. Lincoln was a river port even in Roman times, when the Witham flowed into the Wash at Drayton, but in 1014 the estuary was shifted by flooding, and Boston supplanted Lincoln as a port. However the channel was also important for drainage and flood protection of Lincolnshire, and acquired a leash of branch waterways, many navigable by small freight barges. The railway was its commercial death-knell but it revived with 20th century leisure boating, and the north wharf of the Pool is lined by bars, restaurants and apartments.
  • High Bridge 100 yards east of the Pool is the picturesque 12th century bridge (rebuilt in the 16th) carrying High St over the Witham. It's built on with half-timbered shops, and is pedestrianised. It's a charming impediment to navigation and drainage, anything-but-high with normal water levels and impassable in spate.
  • 5 Museum of Lincolnshire Life, Burton Road LN1 3LY, +44 1522 782040, . Apr-Sep daily 10:00-17:00, Oct-Mar M-Sa 10:00-16:00. Fascinating museum of the area's agricultural, industrial and social history from 1750, housed in a Victorian militia barracks. Free.    
  • Ellis Mill, 21 Mill Road LN1 3JJ (A block west of museum). Closed. A preserved windmill built in 1798, the last of the nine mills along the Lincoln Edge which ground corn into flour for the city. It's run by the adjacent museum but is closed ufn. Free.
  • 6 International Bomber Command Centre, Canwick Ave LN4 2HQ, +44 1522 514755. Tu-Su Mar-Oct 09:30-17:00, Nov-Feb 09:30-16:00. In the Second World War, Britain's bombers were based across Lincolnshire. They took off at dusk and assembled in formation over the Home Counties, where they were joined by their fighter escort, and headed to targets. IBCC is a memorial and museum dedicated to all sides involved in this and later conflicts. Adult £9, conc £8, child £5.50, plus parking £3.  

Further out edit

Newport Arch was the Roman north gate
  • 7 RAF Scampton Heritage Centre, Ermine Cres, Scampton LN1 2ST, . Arrange tours by email. This was the First World War RFC airfield of Brattleby, which returned to farmland in peacetime, then was re-activated in the 1930s. Early pilots used the line of Ermine Street to find their way home. Scampton was among the bomber bases - one famous unit was 617 Squadron, known as the "Dambusters" for their bouncing-bomb raid on the Ruhr valley dams in 1943. RAF Scampton is still active, and home to the Red Arrows RAF display team. But it's expected to close in 2022 and it's not known where the heritage collection will go, meanwhile visits may still be possible. Give several days notice by email so the curator can confirm that the threat you pose to national security is suitably derisory. Free.
  • Museum of RAF Firefighting was also at RAF Scampton until 2017, but put into storage and still seeking a home in 2022.
  • 8 Mrs Smith's Cottage, 3 East Rd, Navenby LN5 0HF, +44 1529 308207. F-M 12:00-16:00. Mrs Hilda Smith cared little for modern frivolities. This mid-19th century redbrick cottage got electricity in the 1930s but she held out against running water and an inside toilet until the 1970s, when the council were minded to declare the place unfit for habitation. Hilda died in 1995, aged 102, and the place has been preserved although the pigs have been banished. Adult £3.50, child £2.
  • St Peter's (Anglican) 100 yards west of the cottage in Navenby is a mishmash of styles, but parts are 13th century.
  • 9 Temple Bruer Preceptory 3 miles south of Navenby is the tower of a church of 1150. The Preceptory was a base of the Knights Templar until their Order was suppressed in 1312, then passed to the Knights Hospitaller. "Bruer" means heather or heathland, as in French bruyère and Scots "broom".
  • 10 Bardney is a tiny village 9 miles east of Lincoln. To its north, the site of Bardney Abbey is just a outline in the fields. Two miles east along B1190, only a single wall remains of Tupholme Abbey.
  • 11 Whisby Nature Park is a wetland and lagoons created from former sand and gravel pits. There's a visitor centre with a cafe and exhibits.
  • 12 Doddington Hall, Main St, Doddington LN6 4RU, +44 1522 694308. W F Su 12:00-16:00. Grand pile built from 1595, the exterior is Elizabethan but the interior is mostly 18th century. With extensive gardens. Hall & gardens adult £13, child £6.50.  

Do edit

Waterside Empowerment sculpture
  • What's on? Listen to BBC Radio Lincolnshire on 94.9 FM, Lincs FM on 102.2 FM, or Siren on 107.3 FM. Or read Lincolnshire Live (incorporating the Echo) or The Lincolnite.
  • Boat trips ply the Witham and Foss Dyke daily April to Sept, starting from around the Pool. Operators are Lincoln Boat Trips and Oliver Boat Trips. They also offer boat hire.
  • Performing arts: Theatre Royal is on Clasketgate B1308. The university-run Performing Arts Centre is south bank of Brayford Pool. Chapterhouse on Guildhall St is mostly about live music, but also puts on open-air theatre. The Drill is based on Free School Lane. Zest Theatre on Grantham St promotes youth arts.
  • Cinema: Odeon is on Brayford Wharf North, and Everyman is on Sincil St just north of the railway station.
  • Football: Lincoln City FC play soccer in League One, England's third tier. Their stadium (capacity 10,000) is at Sincil Bank, half a mile south of the railway station. They're known as "The Imps" but are not to be confused with Lincoln Red Imps FC, who are based in Gibraltar oddly enough.
  • Golf: the closest course is Carholme GC two miles northwest. Further out are Pottergate GC in Branston, Blankney GC further south, Welton Manor to the northeast, and Lincoln GC northwest at Torksey.
  • Water Rail Way is a long-distance path between Lincoln and Boston. It follows the River Witham and is a former railway trackbed, so it's level and suitable for cycling. Join it on Waterside South, which is south bank of the river but north of Sincil Dyke, so the first few miles to Bardney are on a ribbon of artificial island.
  • Skydive: Skydive Hibaldstow is one of the biggest centres in the UK. It's 25 miles north of town at Hibaldstow DN20 9NN, just off the A15. The usual approach for a beginner is a “tandem” – plunging from 15,000 ft strapped to an instructor, so minimum training and fitness are needed, but you do need decent weather. Email or call 01652 848837. There's another big centre to the south at Langar, see Newark.
  • Lincoln Observatory has public viewing nights Nov-March. In summer the evening sky is too bright.
  • Lincolnshire Showground five miles north on A15 hosts regular events. The largest are the Lincolnshire Show in June (next is 21-22 June 2023) and the Food & Gift Fair in November (next is 25-26 Nov 2023).
  • Imp on the Green is a family-friendly music festival at the Showground at the end of May, with tribute acts rather than famous names. The next is probably Sa 26 May 2024, tbc.
  • Truckfest Lincoln celebrates heavy haulage and monster trucks, at Lincolnshire Showground in May - the next is 4-6 May 2024. Similar events are held at seven other locations across Britain.
  • Christmas Market in December is no longer held.

Buy edit

  • The main store in town centre is Tesco, a quarter mile south east of the railway station. It has budget fuel and is open M-Sa 06:00-00:00 and Su 10:00-16:00.
  • Waterside shopping centre north bank of the river and High Street north to the foot of the hill have the usual retail chains.
  • "Traditional" and giftware shops are up the hill, around the castle and along Bailgate. Farmers Market is held around the castle on the third Saturday of each month.
  • Lincoln central market is south bank of the river, trading M-Sa 09:00-16:00. From 2022 a major re-build will cause some disruption.

Eat edit

Over 26,000 Lincolnshire-based aircrew lost their lives in World War II
  • Brayford Pool north wharf has a strip of budget chain outlets, such as Nando's, Ask, Wagamama, Prezzo and Zizzi's, and a handful of Chinese.
  • The Square Sail, Brayford Wharf North LN1 1YW, +44 1522 559920. Daily 08:00-00:00. A JD Wetherspoon serving the usual selection of pub grub and decent ales.
  • The Ritz is another Wetherspoon on 143 High St just south of the railway station.
  • Clasketgate has a food strip as it intersects High St, with TGI Fridays, Cafe Shanti (vegan), Huckleberry's and Romeo's.
  • Cheese Society at 1 St Martins Lane (a block west of The Strait) has a small licensed cafe but is primarily a cheese shop. Food is served M-Sa 10:00-16:00.
  • High Street and up Steep Hill to the castle has Wildwood, Pizza Express, Slow Rise Pizza, Jew's House (see below), Vine's Bakery[dead link], Brown's Pie Shop, Wig & Mitre and Olivares Tapas.
  • Bailgate with Eastgate has Cafe Zoot, Lincoln Grill (in White Hart Hotel), Thailand Number One, Curtis Bakery and Elite on the Bail (seafood).
  • Jew's House, 15 The Strait LN2 1JD, +44 1522 524851. Th-Sa 18:00-00:00, Su 13:00-18:00. Upscale cosy dining in one of Britain's oldest dwellings.

Drink edit

Lincoln Cathedral

Sleep edit

Budget edit

  • 1 Hartsholme Country Park, Skellingthorpe Rd LN6 0EY (off B1378), +44 1522 873578. Well-run council caravan park and campsite open March-Oct. Dogs welcome on lead. Pitch £17, hook-up £20.

Mid-range edit

The Witham is navigable up to Brayford Pool
  • Poplars B&B, Beaumont Fee LN1 1EZ, +44 1522 510170. Charming friendly B&B near castle. B&B double £90.
  • Castle Hotel, Westgate LN1 3AS, +44 1522 538801. Grand little hotel between cathedral and castle, good dining. No dogs. B&B double £100.
  • Lincoln Hotel, Eastgate LN2 1PN (just north of cathedral), +44 1522 520348. Convenient comfy modern hotel. B&B double £120.
  • Premier Inn, Broadgate LN2 5AQ (200 yards north of bus & railway stations), +44 333 321 9305. Reliable comfy chain hotel. Nearby parking is £6 a day. See also their Canwick branch. B&B double £70.
  • Holiday Inn, Brayford Wharf North LN1 1YW (north bank of Pool), +44 333 320 9338. Comfy chain hotel, 10 min walk west of stations. B&B double £110.
  • DoubleTree by Hilton, Brayford Wharf North LN1 1YW (next to Holiday Inn), +44 1522 565180. Boxy modern hotel but close to station. B&B double £120.
  • 2 Eagles Guest House, 552a Newark Road, North Hykeham LN6 9NG, +44 1522 686346. Pleasant welcoming guest house, southwest edge of city. B&B double £90.
  • 3 Holiday Inn Express, Ruston Way LN6 7DB, +44 371 902 1617. Modern midrange place with 118 bedrooms, bar and restaurant. B&B double £130.
  • 4 Bridleway B&B, Riseholme Gorse, Hall Lane LN2 2LY (off A15 four miles north of city), +44 1522 545693. Smart countryside B&B with four rooms in converted farm buildings. Open Jan-Nov, 2 nights minimum, no children under 15 or dogs. B&B double £100.
  • 5 South Park Guesthouse, 11 South Park LN5 8EN (on A1434), +44 1522 887136. Smart friendly B&B south of centre. B&B double £70.
  • 6 Premier Inn Canwick, Lincoln Rd LN4 2RF (1 mile south of stations), +44 333 321 1092. Another location of this chain hotel. B&B double £70.
  • 7 Pyewipe Inn, Saxilby Rd LN1 2BG (off A57, no access from A46 bypass), +44 1522 528708. Pleasant pub with rooms on Foss Dyke. A pyewipe is a plover or peewit, fond of soft ground for catching worms. B&B double £80.

Splurge edit

Connect edit

Lincoln Imp spying on your online passwords

Lincoln has 4G from all UK carriers. As of March 2022, 5G has not reached the city.

Go next edit

Routes through Lincoln
HullScunthorpe  N   S  SleafordPeterborough
LeicesterNewark-on-Trent  SW   NE  → Market Rasen → Grimsby
SheffieldWorksop  W   E  END

This city travel guide to Lincoln is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.