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Lincoln.Cathedral

Lincoln Cathedral

History
Lincoln Cathedral, or Lincoln Minster as it is also known, dates from 1072 when William the Conqueror instructed that the bishopric of this, then the largest diocese in England (covering the lands between the river Thames and the Humber), be moved from Dorchester, near Oxford, to Lincoln, where he had already established a castle in the old Roman upper city. The first Norman Bishop of Lincoln, Remigius had previously been a Benedictine monk, and a loyal supporter of William at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The cathedral was finally consecrated in 1092. It has dominated the skyline of Lincoln since then and is a prominent landmark from many parts of Lincolnshire.

Much of this original Norman Cathedral was damaged by a fire in around 1141, at the time of the civil war between Stephen and Mathilda. Alexander "the Magnificent" (Bishop 1123-48) managed to partially restore it using the most advanced architectural style of his era. His contributions include commssioning the famous 12th century Romanesque frieze on the West Front.

In 1185 an earthquake caused structural damage that was repaired by St Hugh (Bishop 1186-1200) from 1192 onwards. He was said to have himself taken part in the architectural work, but his death prevented him seeing the complete outcome of his plans, as the great transept and nave were unfinished.

St Hugh's contribution was in an early Gothic style of architecture, which was different enough from that of the continent that it has become known as English Gothic. Gothic Architecture relied on three key structural devices: pointed arches (rather than round ones), ribbed vaults and flying buttresses. These made it possible to have wider roof spans and to attain a much greater height, which allowed the building to cover a much bigger space, and to have larger windows, for stained glass and much more light.

These techniques were then still new, and as a possible consequence the central tower collapsed in the late 1230's, but was started anew immediately.

In 1255 Henry III approved a petition by the Dean and Chapter to take down part of the Roman city wall to extend the Cathedral. They replaced St Hugh's rounded chapels with a more extensive and lofty east end to accommodate St Hugh's shrine. This new Angel Choir was consecrated in 1280 and became an important centre for pilgrimage until the Reformation.

In the 14th Century the central tower and those of the West end were heightened, and all had spires until 1549 when that of the central tower blew down. With this spire Lincoln Cathedral had reputedly been the tallest building in the world, at 525 feet being 3 foot higher than the great pyramid! The weight of the remaining towers and their spires caused them to lean, until about 1730 when the architect James Gibb created a Narthex at the West end, whose cross walls strengthened their support. The spires were though eventually removed in 1807 for safety reasons, at which point the final form of the Cathedral that is still with us now was at last reached.
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