The Retirees go Abroad – Greg’s Visit to Nottingham – Lincoln Castle and the Magna Carta.

We walked across Castle Square to the castle. I caught a conspiratorial conversation between Kerry and Greg in a photo. Plotting more shopping I thought. Not before we see the castle says I. Outside the eastern gate is another Baron.

2015 is the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta. Only four original copies of Magna Carta remain from when it was sealed by King John in 1215. Copies of the charter were spread to religious houses in England – Hugh of Wells, later canonised to become St Hugh, the then Bishop of Lincoln, was present at the sealing and made sure a copy was brought back to Lincoln Cathedral.

Lincoln is also the only place in the world where you can find an original copy of Magna Carta together with the Charter of the Forest, issued in 1217 to amplify the document and one of only two surviving copies. The two charters are housed in Lincoln Castle in a specially made vault.

– See more at:

For those of you who have forgotten the importance of the Magna Carta here is a shortened extract from Wikipedia

“Magna Carta (Latin for “the Great Charter”), also called Magna Carta Libertatum (Latin for “the Great Charter of the Liberties”), is a charter agreed by King John of England at Runnymede, near Windsor, on 15 June 1215. It promised the protection of church rights, protection for the barons from illegal imprisonment, access to swift justice, and limitations on feudal payments to the Crown, to be implemented through a council of 25 barons. Neither side stood behind their commitments. At King John’s request, the charter was annulled by Pope Innocent III, leading to the First Barons’ War. After John’s death, the regency government of his young son, Henry III, reissued the document in 1216, stripped of some of its more radical content, in an unsuccessful bid to build political support for their cause. At the end of the war in 1217, it formed part of the peace treaty agreed at Lambeth, where the document acquired the name Magna Carta, to distinguish it from the smaller Charter of the Forest which was issued at the same time. Short of funds, Henry reissued the charter again in 1225 in exchange for a grant of new taxes; his son, Edward I, repeated the exercise in 1297, this time confirming it as part of England’s statute law.

The charter became part of English political life. At the end of the 16th century there was an upsurge in interest in Magna Carta. Lawyers and historians at the time believed that there was an ancient English constitution, going back to the days of the Anglo-Saxons, which protected individual English freedoms. They argued that the Norman invasion of 1066 had overthrown these rights, and that Magna Carta had been a popular attempt to restore them, making the charter an essential foundation for the contemporary powers of Parliament and legal principles such as habeas corpus. Although this historical account was badly flawed, jurists such as Sir Edward Coke used Magna Carta extensively in the early 17th century, arguing against the divine right of kings propounded by the Stuart monarchs. Both James I and his son Charles I attempted to suppress the discussion of Magna Carta, until the issue was curtailed by the English Civil War of the 1640s and the execution of Charles.

The political myth of Magna Carta and its protection of ancient personal liberties persisted well into the 19th century. It influenced the early American colonists in the Thirteen Colonies and the formation of the American Constitution in 1787.

Research by Victorian historians showed that the original 1215 charter had concerned the medieval relationship between the monarch and the barons, rather than the rights of ordinary people, but the charter remained a powerful, iconic document, even after almost all of its content was repealed from the statute books in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Magna Carta still forms an important symbol of liberty today, often cited by politicians and campaigners, and is held in great respect by the British and American legal communities. The four original 1215 charters were displayed together at the British Library for one day, 3 February 2015, to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.


The Retirees go Abroad – Greg’s Visit to Nottingham – Lincoln Cathedral

Firstly there is the obligatory picture in the gateway to the cathedral and then entry into the vast nave. The cathedral was once the highest building in the world until 1549 when its spire collapsed and was not rebuilt. A production of Jesus Christ Superstar is being performed in the cathedral so unfortunately we did not get a clear view of the nave. Whilst waiting for our guide Kerry and I inspected the wonderful “stations of the cross” and then I took Greg on my own version of the tour to show him the Dean’s Eye, the Bishop’s Eye, the chapter house and St Hugh’s choir in the chapel.

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We met the guide for the tour and whilst he was most knowledgeable and informative he was also deaf so he did not hear our pleas for him to speak up. We saw the baptismal font carved from one stone in the 12th century, the Dutch pulpit saved from an Anglican Church in Holland, some hand carved pieces from an ancient set of carvings for a set of stations(the carvings were donated to the church by a parishioner)

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Here is what I could hear of the history of the cathedral. Remigius de Fécamp, the first bishop of Lincoln, moved the Episcopal seat there “sometime between 1072 and 1092” from Dorchester. Bishop Remigius built the first Lincoln Cathedral on the present site, finishing it in 1092 and then dying on 9 May of that year two days before it was consecrated. It is a cathedral because it contains a “Cathra” or the bishop’s seat. The cathedral was mostly destroyed by an earthquake in 1185. The damage to the cathedral is thought to have been very extensive being described as having “split from top to bottom”. In the current building, only the lower part of the west end and of its two attached towers remain of the pre-earthquake cathedral. After the earthquake, a new bishop was appointed. He was Hugh de Burgundy of Avalon, France, who became known as St Hugh of Lincoln.

Hugh was consecrated Bishop of Lincoln on 1186 at Westminster. As a bishop, he was exemplary, constantly in residence or travelling within his diocese, generous with his charity, scrupulous in the appointments he made. He raised the quality of education at the cathedral school. Hugh was also prominent in trying to protect the Jews, great numbers of whom lived in Lincoln, in the persecution they suffered at the beginning of Richard I’s reign, and he put down popular violence against them—as later occurred following the death of Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln—in several places. Hugh was canonised by Pope Honorius III in 1220, and is the patron saint of sick children, sick people, shoemakers and swans. Hugh’s primary emblem is a white swan, in reference to the story of the swan of Stowe which had a deep and lasting friendship with the saint, even guarding him while he slept. The swan would follow him about, and was his constant companion while he was at Lincoln. Hugh loved all the animals in the monastery gardens, especially a wild swan that would eat from his hand and follow him about and yet the swan would attack anyone else who came near Hugh.

A new tower was soon started and in 1255 the Cathedral petitioned Henry III to allow them to take down part of the town wall to enlarge and expand the Cathedral, including the rebuilding of the central tower and spire. They replaced the small rounded chapels (built at the time of St Hugh) with a larger east end to the cathedral. This was to handle the increasing number of pilgrims to the Cathedral, who came to worship at the shrine of Hugh of Lincoln. The shrine has been moved a number of times and it appears in the moves they have lost St Hugh’s head.


The history of this cathedral goes on and on but as it is best known for the shrine of St Hugh, I have limited the history. From here we proceeded to the Castle and the Magna Carta vault.


The Retirees go Abroad – Greg’s Visit to Nottingham – Lincoln

The day starts with the BBC news for the weather and the score in the cricket and to pick up what has happened at St Andrews. Boy how the programming changes with two men in the house. The weather is okay for today – we can visit Lincoln but take a jumper. Not so certain about Friday though. A low has developed in the Atlantic and is moving toward the UK. We may have to reschedule golf for Friday.

The drive over to Lincoln is trouble free and my research on parking has proved very worthwhile as we are able to park between Lincoln Castle and Lincoln Cathedral (they face one another) at the top of Steep Hill (named because it is bloody steep). We arrive before tourist hour (10.00am) so we wander along Bailgate to Newport Arch. We start at the tourist information centre in Castle Square and walk past the Church of St Mary Magdalene which is the parish church and dates from the 13th century. It is overshadowed by the cathedral immediately behind it.


Further down Bailgate is the Lion and Snake pub and set into the road outside the pub are stone circles marking the location of 19 columns which once formed the colonnade of a roman forum. The place is littered with roman relics. Further on we pass the County Assembly Rooms where the local Rotary Club meets. In front is one of the “Barons” celebrating the anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. There are 15 – the same number as opposed King John and forced his signature to the Magna Carta and they will be auctioned off for charity. We finish our walk at Newport Arch; a roman archway still used by traffic today (I’ll bet it is a nightmare at busy times). Built 1800 years ago as the north gate to the roman fortress on the site.


Don’t worry Kerry is keeping an eye on the shopping as we pass by the shops. I was taken by some bespoke ironwork in one – a replica penny farthing and a replica pushbike in the shape of a Harley Davison. She has even infected Greg who is shopping for scarves also.


Enough of this. I drag them back to one of our goals – the Cathedral.



The Retirees Go Abroad – Somewhere different – Lincolnshire

The Retirees Go Abroad

Somewhere different – Lincolnshire

It is a grey day. The forecast is for scattered showers across the midlands and the forecast looks pretty accurate. In addition there is a grey mist hanging just above the ground so all in all a great day to stay in bed or visit Lincolnshire. So we decide to visit. But where and what?

We have joined the National Trust and this is proving to be a great investment. So I hop onto the web site and select to visit Tattershall Castle at Tattershall in the north-west and Belton House in nearby Belton Village.

Although Lincoln itself is only 35 mins from Nottingham these places are in the eastern side of the county so we had a 1.5 hour drive to our first stop at Tattershall. Lincolnshire is very agricultural and most of our drive we passed open fields of fertile looking soil going off to the horizon (shrouded in mist today). It has the appearance of being very flat with villages spread out so that the farms appear much larger than down south. I don’t know if that is true but the country side we drove through seemed largely to be farmland. There were a few changes such as the RAF bases (RAF Cranwell RAF Waddington) we passed on the way, an air museum which we will have to visit next time and RAF Coningsby from the turrets of Tattershall Castle. The RAF seems to like Lincolnshire and I have attached a link to the official website of RAF Lincolnshire museums for those interested –

The road was good but the mist did not leave us and we passed through some small showers/ spits of rain. We arrived at Tattershall around 11.15 am which is good timing as the Castle is not open til 11.00 am. The car park had at least a dozen cars in it surprising for what seemed one of the more remote places we have visited. We walked passed the lawn bowls green into the church yard. Wow!

A surprisingly large church stood there in front of us –the Collegiate Church of the Holy Trinity Tattershall. “The Church of the Holy Trinity at Tattershall was completed in 1500 AD having been endowed, in 1439 by King Henry VI, with Collegiate status. A Collegiate Church is one that has attached to it, a Chapter of canons and prebendaries – priests whose livings are paid through endowments and by the income from land or tithes.”

From the moment you walked in you knew this was going to be in its original state. The sign at the entrance was the give-away. Inside you could see this was a grand church although somewhat raw by other standards. Still it had a substantial presence and was clearly loved by its community and the local bats who roost in the exterior (and sometimes the interior) of the church. It had an obvious bell tower but the cords were just out of reach. I suspect only part of the church is now used as a consecrated church. The web site above is well worth a visit and I hope my photos give you some idea of the presence of this church. We bought some local baked wares and Kerry found an “antiquities” stall purchasing some bits and pieces for the 50p each.

Walking from the church we passed under shady trees and through an open area across a timber footbridge into a building called the guardhouse (it may have once served such a purpose but today it is a ticket office gift shop and visitors centre). Immediately in front of us but probably 200 meters away is the only remaining portion of the castle, a six story tower that was once the centre of a fortified castle surrounded by two moats. One of the moats exists today whilst only part of the outer moat remains. Built in 1434 by Ralph Lord Cromwell Treasurer to Henry VI (he also served in the army of Henry IV at Agincourt) it was saved from complete demolition (and pillaging by American entrepreneurs) by Lord Curzon in 1911 and bequeathed to the newly formed National Trust in 1925. When Cromwell died in 1456, the castle was initially inherited by his niece, Joan Bouchier, but was confiscated by the Crown after her husband’s demise. Tattershall castle was recovered in 1560 by Sir Henry Sidney, who sold it to Lord Clinton, later Earl of Lincoln, and it remained with the Earls of Lincoln until 1693. It passed to the Fortesques, but then fell into neglect until bought by Lord Curzon. It remains today one of the three most important surviving brick castles of the mid-fifteenth century.

As we approached the tower we noted that there are foundations for the old kitchens in the moat. These kitchens were connected to the castle along with the guest apartments, the enclosing walls and watch towers. There are three doors at ground level the middle one leads to the basement where the castle servants lived and provisions were stored. The right hand door leads to the parlour where estate business was conducted by the Lord’s warden (tenants paid rent etc). The third doorway on the left is the stair case to the upper floors. On the first floor is the Great Hall where the Lord would wine and dine and entertain guests, the second floor was the Audience Chamber where only special; guests would be entertained, the third floor was the Private Chamber where the Lord retired for the night and the family lived, the fourth floor is the roof and the fifth floor the turrets. The sixth floor is the below ground servants quarters.

In the basement was the well for the castle, on the first and third floors there were garderobes (a medieval toilet – the garderobe on the third floor included the dressing room as it was believed the smell of human urine drove fleas and lice from clothing and this configuration is believed to have led to the word ”wardrobe”). On the second floor a dovecote was installed in one of the anterooms in the 18th century (a dovecote is a nesting construction so that the occupants of the castle had fresh eggs and meat when other sources were not available. For more information go to

The visit to the castle was very interesting. Belton House however was entirely different. Built between 1685 and 1689 for Sir John Brownlow–Cust (they did not like the “Cust” so they dropped it despite the added wealth that marriage brought to the family) and often cited as the quintessential country house with a 1300 acre estate and deer herds. Unfortunately only the house was open and the below stairs tour would have to wait for another day. So we keyed in the post code for Belton House and Tommy took us right there – as though it was still 1700. Because Tommy took us to the front gate which these days is locked we alighted and walked the last 1.6 kilometers to the house only to find there is a new entrance from Belton Village to a car park directly alongside the house. We were not the only ones fooled by our GPS.

Even so it was pleasant walking along the avenue. It was still overcast although the mist had lifted about 3.00pm so it was cool walking along watching the deer frolic in front of us. The grounds were lush and the deer prolific. In the distance we could see a grand house in a green sea with figures running around in white. It was a cricket match. Apparently the local cricket team counts the ground in front of the house as their field.

We circumnavigated the pitch and climbed the front stairs into the marble entrance hall filled with family portraits. The house has three storeys above ground and one below. Two storeys are open to visit and the below storey is accessible only by tour. We moved into the saloon with more portraits of the family, to the Viscount Tryconel Room, to the Chapel Drawing room. Here in this room is a Delander long case clock made in the 18th century showing not only the time but has an in built calendar – a Julian calendar (a bit like a betamax video recorder wrong technology). Beside this room is the chapel which is actually in the basement and we were standing in the organ room overlooking the chapel. The organ retracted into the wall. In the Chapel Drawing room we had the opportunity to see the original colour of the room (a brilliant Lapis blue with gold and white flecks) and the degraded colour after 300 years.

In the Blue Dressing Room we saw the Lapis cabinet of 21 draws two of which were secret drawers. Italian made it is completely decorated in lapis lazuli, the favoured precious stone of the Pharohs. There was also a portrait of Richard Brownlow founder of the family fortunes and the Chief Prothonotary of Queen Elizabeth I’s Court of Common Pleas (principal clerk of the court). There are 3 main staircases in the house (not counting the hidden staff stair cases) and at this point we entered the Little Marble Hall and went upstairs. They did not forget the Cust family altogether as there is a bust of Harry in the West Stair case

Upstairs we saw the bedroom which is a bit unusual in these old country houses. There was the Queen’s bedroom and the Windsor bedroom with ensuite (Prince Charles stayed here while training at the RAF base at Waddington and I found two “toby” jugs in this room one portraying George V and the other Winston Churchill). There was the library and then the study which looked like a second library, the Red Drawing Room and then down the west staircase to the tapestry room but we could not go into the breakfast room (they had hosted a showing of the silver ware from No 10 Downing St and had not cleaned up after 17,000 people visited the display.

We then ventured out to the stables (now the shop, café, book shop etc etc,) and into the ornate Italian garden. Like all of these gardens just beautiful. The topiary was fascinating as it waved through the trees with no particular shape but joining them all together as a green wall. The Orangery (hothouse) was filled with sub – tropical plants and behind it was a formal Dutch garden. Hidden in the trees was the family church and crypt. All the Brownlow’s are there including one pair who died in 1670’s.

We needed a cup of coffee and to sit down for a rest because we now had the walk back to the car. The deer had coalesced into a larger herd but still there were the odd few rambling about as we walked back to THISTLE. The sun had finally come out we warmed up walking to the car. Our trip had ended and we now had 34 miles (yes they still use miles in the UK) to go to return to Nottingham.