I apologise for my absence here on this blog over the Easter weekend. I have spent a much-needed break up at my parent’s new house in the Lincolnshire countryside visiting family who I haven’t seen in years, visiting Lincoln and eating lots of great food (and chocolate!).
I did bring my laptop, intending to participate in the second check-in for the Madame Bovary Read Along (I will write up my post tomorrow morning), however, it turned out that I couldn’t even get my data roaming to work on my phone. However, it was a wonderful bonus to be away from the internet (and my phone) for four long days. I finished Madame Bovary on the Friday – I just couldn’t resist reading on to the inevitable end – and have made considerable progress on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s brilliant Americanah, which has been shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. I also acquired a number of treasures, which I will write about in a series of posts on bookshops in Lincoln.
So, on the Saturday I visited Lincoln for the first time. Despite the reluctant annual trips up to Lincolnshire to visit family as a kid, I had never gone into central Lincoln before and was pleasantly surprised by this bustling city steeped in history. My first point-of-call was the beautiful, towering Cathedral, which sits at the top of Steep Hill (appropriately named, for it is a very steep hill!). I have been into a number of Cathedrals in my time, but Lincoln Cathedral tops them all. At one point, in the fourteenth century, the Cathedral was the tallest building in the world and continued to be so for over 200 years. It is a truly beautiful piece of architecture and I could not help but feel awed in its presence.
However, the main attraction for me (and the reason I was so eager to visit) was the Medieval and Wren Libraries, situated above the north walk of the cloister at Lincoln Cathedral. Standing side by side, the Medieval and Wren Libraries each differ in the concept of what a library was to be used for. The Medieval Library, which you walk into first, is full of rows of oak lecterns with manuscripts (and later printed books) chained up so you couldn’t take them away. The room is also dark and gloomy to reflect how reading would have been done in candlelight. There was a miniature Bible in one of the cases where the writing is so miniscule and so tiny that it must have taken so much time, concentration and patience to read, let alone write the manuscript.
The Wren Library, designed by the renowned architect Sir Christopher Wren, housed the personal collection of the Dean of Lincoln from 1660 to 1681, Michael Honywood. This room is decidedly different from the Medieval Library. It is light and airy and the books are displayed openly on shelves that reach the ceiling. It was a beautiful room even though you weren’t allowed near any of the books!
Whilst in Lincoln I also made a quick stop at the Castle. I say quick because only the castle wall was open due to the major renovations that are taking place and which will be finished by 2015 – in time for the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.