My work experience with Lincoln Cathedral Connected

A post by Annderley Hill.

Annderley 2

This summer I have been volunteering in the Lincoln Cathedral Connected office. During this time I have been participating in some amazing work, one of the best things that I was lucky enough to be involved in was the collections audit. We worked our way through numerous Cathedral buildings and rooms photographing and measuring all the items that could be used in exhibitions in the future. Getting up close and personal with some of the Cathedral’s treasures has been an exciting and unique experience for me. One of my favourite items that we found was some medieval glass from the glazing department. Looking at it on the table it didn’t look too impressive but once it was put up against the light the colours were so bright and stunning, it was a revelation!

The Exchequer Gate Arch was another highlight, having walked underneath it many times it was very exciting to be able to go inside for the first time.

Another thing I have been doing is digitising Dean & Chapter documents to ensure that the Cathedral has a searchable document archive. This has involved visiting the Lincolnshire archives numerous times, something I hope to do more of in the future, and lots and lots of typing! My ability to read old scrawl writing has improved and I have learnt so much about the Cathedral’s history by typing up these documents. Reports on the Cathedral repairs have been some of the most interesting, especially those involving Godfrey, the former architect of the Cathedral, who I almost feel like I know personally now.

Getting involved in the area of heritage education has been amazing, it is definitely an area that I would like to continue being involved in. Sitting in on the Cathedral’s Education Forum was a brilliant experience, hearing about everything that is going on and what will be happening in the future regarding education at the Cathedral was so interesting. I was also involved in Story Time events at the Cathedral, which allowed children to hear the Noah’s Ark story and participate in the craft activities and animal tour, which was wonderful.

In addition, I also sat in on the Exhibition and Interpretation meetings. It’s fascinating to hear how much goes into an exhibition space before any of the objects even come into the equation. I am really looking forward to seeing how the objects and stories we have been discussing come to life in the new exhibition space. Visitors to the Cathedral will have a fascinating insight in to both the history and working life of the Cathedral.

Before I started this work experience I was about 80% sure I wanted to work in heritage but now I am 100% sure! Working in the Connected office has been an incredible experience and I am so excited about hopefully having an opportunity to be involved with the team again in the future. I’d like to say a huge thank you to the Connected Team.

Unknown details of the Cathedral’s past revealed as 18th century documents are unearthed

Our team has unearthed historic documents that date back to the 18th and 19th centuries which have revealed unknown details about the Cathedral.

Pearson's letters regarding the Cathedral architecture

The documents, which include details of who lived in the Cathedral Close at the time and insightful information on the wishes of the Cathedral’s architect, give a glimpse into the past which have been captured in the pages of archival material.

Over the last 12 months, we commissioned a palaeography group to study historical leases and documents relating to the Close dating back to as early as 1851 and through this research these documents have been found.

One document, the 1851 Census, states that over 140 tenants once resided in the Close, which is the area immediately around the Cathedral and includes Castle Square, James Street and others.

In the census, details can be found on the properties and the residents who lived in the Close over 166 years ago. Residents included butchers, paupers, clergy staff, physicians, a distributer of stamps and a portrait artist. It is fascinating to hear about the range of people who once lived here and to learn more about the lifestyle they lead throughout the 18th and 19th century.

Part of the magic of the Cathedral is that there is still much we don’t know about it and when we have the opportunity to unlock some of the mystery and to add to Lincoln’s vibrant and rich heritage it’s incredibly exciting and important.

Amongst the Close documents, the Connected project also revealed letters dating from 1881 to 1894 written by the Cathedral architect at the time J.L Pearson. Mr Pearson had documented the current repair works to the Cathedral as well as some plans that were never completed, which could have dramatically changed the way we see Lincoln Cathedral today if they had been.

These letters demonstrate that the history of Lincoln Cathedral is not just the history of what is but what could have been, and allow us to hear the voices of the people directly involved in the creation and image of the Cathedral as we see it today.


Get connected with the Cathedral at Lincolnshire Show

Visitors to the Lincoln Cathedral marquee at the Lincolnshire Show later this month will have the opportunity to take part in a staged archaeological dig led by real archaeologists and view through virtual reality headsets, 360 degree views of some of Lincoln’s lost medieval buildings that once surrounded the Cathedral.

The activities, which are all family orientated, are part of the Lincoln Cathedral Connected project.

Cathedral Lincoln Imp to appear at Lincs Show

We will have a large presence in the Cathedral’s marquee which is bigger than ever before, and will be on hand to help visitors of all ages enjoy the activities and entertainment.

As well as the archaeological dig and virtual reality experience, there will also be brass-rubbing, a magician to keep the little ones entertained, a replica of the Charter of the Forest and complimentary coffee and tea will be supplied by Stokes.

The lost medieval buildings that are being brought to life through virtual reality are the Old Deanery and Works Chantry buildings, which were demolished hundreds of years ago on the grounds of the Cathedral. By simply putting on a virtual reality headset, visitors can be transported back in time and will see specially created images of how the buildings looked as if they are stood in front of them.

Following the first reveal at the show, the virtual reality imagery will be available for people to view via Google Maps on a PC, laptop, iPad or Smartphones.

Families can bring their little archaeologists to a sandpit in the marquee, to have fun searching for bones and other artefacts in this staged archaeological dig. Lead by Lincoln-based Allen Archaeology, children will have the opportunity to clean and study their findings under a microscope and learn about their findings.

Families visiting will also want to keep an eye out for the Cathedral Imp who will be walking around the event handing out stickers to children. Once a sticker has been given children can then show this at the Cathedral marquee to collect ‘treasure’ in the form of chocolate coins.

We’re really excited for this year’s Lincolnshire Show as we have lots going and want to welcome as many visitors as possible to come and enjoy our engaging activities.

We are giving visitors the opportunity to have the first look at the virtual medieval buildings which is really exciting. Lincolnshire-based Pighill Archaeological Illustration has been working on this for several months and they have done a fantastic job of bringing the buildings to life.

The staged archaeological dig will be a great way to get young people involved and interested not just in archaeology but also the vibrant history of the Cathedral, which is what the Connected project is all about.

The leather-bound ‘Book of Oaks’ will also be shown in the marquee which contains the names of people who have previously pledged, planted, grown and promised Oak trees for the restoration of the Lincoln Cathedral roof.

At the marquee, visitors will be able to purchase Oak tree saplings and have their names added to the book, which will be available to view in the Cathedral by appointment. The Oak tree saplings purchased at the show will be planted and in four generations time, felled to restore the Cathedral roof.

The Lincoln Cathedral stand will be hosted by the Connected team and Lincoln Cathedral and The Diocese of Lincoln and will be open to visitors from 9am to 5:30pm on the 21 and 22 June at The Lincolnshire Showground.

Bringing lost Lincoln to life

Myself and the Connected team are pleased to announce that works have begun on the creation of a Google 3D virtual model which will bring to life a number of medieval buildings that once surrounded the Cathedral.   

Lincoln Cathedral Connected Old Deanery

The Old Deanery and Works Chantry, which hundreds of years ago used to stand where the existing Deanery building is today to the north of the Cathedral, are going to be recreated by using 18th and 19th century drawings and plans produced by artists and historians.

We will be revealing the interpretation artwork in June this year. The model will allow you to ‘stand’ in a virtual courtyard and see 360 degree panoramic views of the two medieval buildings and can be accessed via Google Maps on a PC, laptop, IPad or smartphones.

We have commissioned this project to celebrate the rich history of the Cathedral and its surrounds and to show our local community and visitors how the area once looked in its medieval heyday.

I would like to thank Pighill Archaeological Illustration and Lincoln-based firm Allen Archaeology Ltd who are developing the 3D modelling.

Through this artwork people will be able to explore not seen before imagery of the courtyard to the north of the Cathedral that was once packed with buildings, archways and gates.

This innovative virtual reconstruction, which will be based on real objects and artist impressions from the 19th century, as well as documentary evidence and archaeological discoveries we have made over the years, is just one of the many projects we are working on which aims to engage the local people and visitors from further afield in the vibrant history of this wonderful building.

Nothing like this has been done in the Cathedral Close before and we’re very excited for the interpretation to be revealed this summer.


Restoration works have started on the Cathedral

The first phase in a long line of restoration and renovation works to the Cathedral has begun, as we aim to radically improve the Cathedral’s setting and visitor experience by offering more engaging and dynamic spaces.


The first phase of restoration works include repair work to the north Cloister wall and internationally important Romanesque Frieze.

For those who have been inside the Cathedral, the north Cloister wall forms the outer part of the Wren Library and is undergoing substantial piecing in of new stone and the removal of iron ties to the north and west wall. The Cloister wall is due for completion in September this year.

In July of this year, we will also begin work on the south Romanesque Frieze. The Frieze has been covered since the late 1980s for preservation due to the disintegration of the attached gothic sculptures. We are using the funding from our project so careful conservation work of the now delicate carvings can begin, which date back from approximately 1123-1148.

Following our successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund, I am really excited to finally see the restoration works our Cathedral so desperately needs starting to take place. The restoration of the Cloister wall and the Romanesque Frieze is just the beginning of five years of important works to the Cathedral.

Replicas of the carvings on the south Romanesque Frieze, which show biblical scenes including Daniel in the lions’ den and Noah building of the Ark will be created and put on display in the new visitor centre, which is being built as part of our Connected project and will be complete in 2020.

Open door policy for Heritage Open Day

To celebrate and be a part of Lincolnshire Heritage Open Day, on the 10th September, the Cathedral opened its doors and allowed visitors free entry as well as the opportunity to see inside the little known works department.

Caring for and protecting the Cathedral takes considerable time and effort and it’s the works department who keep the building looking its best.

The connected team also got involved – never one to miss an opportunity to share the Connected vision – we based ourselves amongst the talented craftsmen and women in the works department and met visitors interested to hear about our plans for the Cathedral’s future.

It was a fantastic day and we welcomed many visitors to our display who showed great interest in our proposed plans. It was a great opportunity to hear from local people and some from outside of the county what they thought to the improvements that we hope to make.

It wasn’t all chit chat, we had our popular dressing up costumes on hand for children to dress up as Roman soldiers and medieval knights and even a few adults got into the spirit and donned the outfits!

Lincolnshire Heritage Open Day is part of a national initiative that celebrates England’s architecture and culture and is a great way for people to see and experience interesting buildings that are not normally open to the public, such as our works department.


WW2 photos gave us a window into the past and brought a tear to my eye

One of the many reasons working at the Cathedral is wonderful is because every now and then a member of the public finds old photographs showing the Cathedral and its grounds and they kindly bring them to show us.

Myself and the team always pour over the photos, piecing together bits of information and seeing how it compares to the present day.

A few weeks ago, Susan Taylor from Lincoln found a collection of photographs dating back to the Second World War belonging to her grandfather, Frank Brown. These photos were incredible as they showed the local fire brigade building the Cathedral’s original underground water tank.

Frank was part of Lincoln fire brigade at the time and the photos showed him and his colleagues helping to install the tank, which was built so there was access to large amounts of water should the Cathedral be hit by air strikes during the war.

In the photos we can see that the team piped water all the way up the hill from Brayford Pool to fill the tank which is quite a distance!

I’m told by Susan that Frank and his brigade stayed in Lincoln during the war to protect it but they were also called down to London to support the other-whelmed local fire brigades during the Blitz.

It’s a really interesting story and I found it touching to think all those years ago in times of conflict, our local fire brigade and Susan’s grandfather were working hard to protect our city and our marvellous Cathedral.

Finding these photos is great timing as the old water tank brings with it some further good news; we are offering the local community the chance to be involved in a Cathedral excavation!

The water tank shown in the photographs has been redundant for a long time and to make way for our proposed plans for a new visitor’s centre, the tank will be carefully removed during a community dig next year.

The dig will be run by professionals and overseen by our archaeological consultant but is a rare opportunity to experience first-hand what lays under the Cathedral’s grounds and become part of its history. The really exciting part is that this excavation will hopefully reveal historical information from the period of the Second World War and aspects going back to the 13th century.

More information on how people can get involved in this dig will be shared in due course.




We dug, we found, we are amazed!

You may have seen in the press recently that we have had the results back from our recent archaeology survey and we are both amazed and excited by the finds.

Allen Archaeology in Lincoln undertook the excavation for us to find out what remains below ground in areas around the Cathedral that we hope to improve as part of the Connected project.

I’m delighted to say that the excavation team unearthed many ancient and important artefacts including medieval graffiti showing hand carved Daisy Wheels. These are intricate and very beautiful hand carved symbols in stone which we believe are created as part of a protection ritual.

Further evidence of our ancestors’ everyday lives was found in the form of Roman and medieval pottery, medieval building materials and animal bones. The archeologists also found the burials of two adults. These were carefully re-covered and have been left in situ.

We also discovered the remains of medieval buildings we knew had once existed but had been destroyed in the Victorian period including the original Deanery and the Chantry – two of what were the most impressive medieval buildings in Lincoln. Plus, the once tiled floor of the elaborate gatehouse – Dean Flemyng’s Gate Tower – which was constructed in 1451–83.

We have history records that tell us much of the Cathedrals rich history but what we found during this dig has helped us to fill some of the gaps which is incredible.

The results of this survey, which was overseen by advisors from Historic England, are incredibly important – not only are we able to learn much about the Cathedral’s history and our ancestors – but it will help to inform our plans for improving visitor experience.

Putting ‘on’ a show

If you were lucky enough to be at the Lincolnshire Show last month and stopped by the Lincoln Cathedral stand, you would have seen a few of the Connected team looking like we had raided a dressing up box.

Myself and a number of my colleagues got into the show spirit and donned outfits of important historic figures from the Cathedral’s past, including medieval knights and Roman soldiers.

Never a team to shy away from a challenge, we dressed up to encourage visitors to come into the stand to hear about our exciting plans for the Cathedral and offer visitors the opportunity to see visuals of what the plans will look like when complete. Plus, we hoped a few of them would dress up too so we didn’t feel so silly, thankfully a few did!

The Lincolnshire Show is a firm favourite in the county’s events calendar and is the ideal place to see all that makes Lincolnshire great and what better place to learn about the future of our much-loved cathedral?

Throughout the twos days, the sunshine brought with it thousands of keen visitors and we welcomed lots of local and not so local people into the stand who were really interested in the Connected plans and we also asked their  opinions on what they think we could improve on. We were also very grateful to Stokes who provided tea and coffee throughout the two days – exactly what you need when you’re not used to standing up for two days!

The Lincolnshire Show is one of many events we will be taking part in to engage with people on the Connected project. We want to educate, inspire and inform on our plans but also share the Cathedral’s past, archaeology and architecture.

Digging for Treasure

Lincoln Cathedral Connected Team break ground with a series of excavations.

Archaeologists are on site at the Cathedral, digging a series of test pits as part of the planning phase of our highly anticipated Lincoln Cathedral Connected Project. The project will provide significant changes to the visitor offering at Lincoln Cathedral for years to come. A utility study has been under way and we are now considering the impact on the surrounding land before we break ground and start to build early next year.

As well as renovating old and constructing new buildings to create classrooms and an exhibition space, the £16 million project will also involve extensive landscaping to the west and north of the Cathedral to create new outdoor spaces. This will open up areas, like the Dean’s Green, to the public for the first time in decades.

This is an exciting opportunity to be part of the start of this £16 million project.