Cathedral and Close

Description

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  • Overview
    The Cathedral Character Area is dominated by the cathedral at its centre, built largely during the High Medieval Era [850-1350 AD]. Many buildings face the cathedral around Minster Yard, the majority of which are associated with the cathedral. Together with the cathedral, these buildings form an ecclesiastical centre located on the northern escarpment overlooking the city. Much of the early townscape has survived and as a result the Character Area is a well-preserved example of a High Medieval religious centre, although several of the buildings themselves have been altered since then, especially during the 18th century.
     
    The cathedral is much larger in scale than surrounding buildings and its outstanding architectural style, form and detailing make it the most prominent and high status building in the Character Area and surrounding areas. It has also strongly influenced the form and character of the open spaces around it, the street pattern, the aspect of houses facing the cathedral, and the larger irregular buildings and plots to the south and east (including the Bishop’s Palace).
     
    The townscape has also been strongly influenced by the long history of development in the Character Area from the High Medieval period onwards, particularly in the variety of the form and architectural style of the buildings (including Classical and Gothic), as well as in the shape and size of the building plots. Other earlier developments which still influence the current character include the 14th century Close Wall (including Exchequergate) and the High Medieval Bishops Palace. Exchquergate itself is a landmark building and forms a key link between the cathedral and castle.
     
    There is a strong sense of enclosure, including quite large enclosed public spaces and greens, due to the large scale cathedral, the continuous building line of 2-3 storey buildings around Minster Yard and the many long, high stone and brick walls. There are many doorways, narrow lanes and carriageway arches leading from the open spaces around the cathedral through walls or buildings into open spaces, gardens, yards or roads beyond. Trees in the open spaces and gardens around the cathedral form an important part of its setting.
     
    The use of natural materials throughout the Character Area, both within buildings and the public realm, is a defining characteristic of the area. Stone in particular, and to a lesser extent brick and timber, creates a congruent townscape that contrasts with surrounding areas which are comparably more varied.
     
    There are many views of the cathedral from within the Character Area and there are views of the south escarpment and lower city from the area which are an important part of its character.
     
    The cathedral, the wider Character Area, and neighbouring character areas form a key tourist destination for Lincoln and the East Midlands.
  • Historical Development
    The Cathedral Character Area is dominated by the cathedral at its centre, built largely during the High Medieval Era [850-1350 AD]. Many buildings face the cathedral around Minster Yard, the majority of which are associated with the Dean and Chapter. As such buildings within the Character Area form an ecclesiastical core located on the northern escarpment overlooking the city. Much of the early townscape has survived under the stewardship of the Dean and Chapter, and as a result is a well preserved example of a High Medieval religious centre, though several of the buildings themselves have been altered since then, especially during the 18th century.
     
    The cathedral itself straddles the line of the eastern defences of the upper Roman city. Parts of the former fortifications survive, including the east gate to the north of the cathedral as well as remains of the wall within Temple Gardens to the south.
     
    The existing cathedral is a result of several phases of rebuilding, extension and, increasingly of late, conservation. Prior to the Norman Conquest it is likely that the cathedral was located on the site of an earlier church, that of St. Mary of Lincoln. Another pre-conquest church within the area was the Church of St. Margaret, the graveyard of which survives in the open area to the south of the junction of Pottergate and Minster Yard.
     
    In 1072 the bishop’s seat was moved form Dorchester on Thames to Lincoln, necessitating the construction of a ‘mother church’ of the diocese. Construction of the initial cathedral is likely to have begun in 1073. All that survives above ground of the first phase of the cathedral is preserved in the western end of the current building. The three tallest arched bays, as well as the smaller round arched alcoves to the north and south, survive (although the central bay has been heightened and a gothic arch inserted). The round arched ground floor doorways within each of the three tallest bays also survive. The plainer undecorated areas of coursed stone rising above and either side of the bays and alcoves give an approximate indication of the width of the former cathedral, and its original height would have been close to that of the apex of the central bay. This early form of Romanesque, or Norman, architecture is an expression of the formative stages of the Anglo-Norman style in the years immediately after the Conquest.
     Lincoln Cathedral from Minster Yard
    Figure 1 Lincoln cathedral from Minster Yard
     
    The Bishop’s Palace, which survives immediately south of the cathedral, was built around the mid to late 12th century. Previously Bishops had resided in the castle, as well as the east gate to the city. The palace was constructed immediately south of the Roman defences that divided the upper and lower cities. As part of the entitlement to build, the Bishop was allowed to breach the wall with a doorway, to connect the palace with the cathedral. The doorway, which survives in the current townscape, was the first in a series of steps that led to the formation of the Close Wall, defining the ecclesiastical core of the city that survives today.
     
    The early cathedral still remained entirely within the former Roman defences, which continued to protect the city through to the High Medieval Era. However, serious structural damage to the cathedral on the 15th April 1185 led to the drawing up of plans to construct a new and larger cathedral. Between 1192 and the early 14th century various parts of the cathedral were rebuilt and extended, which together largely form the shape of the building today. Construction of the Angel Choir had necessitated the removal of a considerable part of Lincoln’s upper city defences, and consequently the east of the city was vulnerable to attack. In the early part of the 14th century the Close Wall was constructed around the cathedral, as well as many of its associated buildings. The wall formed new eastern defences for the city, but moreover defined an ecclesiastical district within which members of the clergy were secure. Many of the Character Area’s boundaries follow the line of the Close Wall, considerable lengths of which survive in the current townscape, in particular the stretch from the Priorygate Arch to the east end of Winnowsty Lane. Most conspicuously many gateways also survive. Pottergate, Exchequer Gate and the pedestrian gate at the top of Greestone Stairs survive from the initial phases of the Close Wall’s construction. The standing remains of Priorygate in the north of the area date to the early 19th century, and were built on the site of the former north gate to the Close.
    Exchequergate and the public space to the west of the cathedral showing the cobbled area in front
    Figure 2 Exchequergate and the public space to the west of the cathedral
     
    The Close incorporated a number of houses and buildings, most, if not all, of which were part of an ecclesiastical group of properties administered by the Dean and Chapter. Many of the buildings within the Character Area incorporate elements of buildings dating from the High Medieval period, notably the Chancery at Number 11 Minster Yard, the Subdeanery at Number 17 Minster Yard, as well as houses around Vicar’s Court. A former tithe barn and later stables associated with the Vicar’s Court also survive to the west of Greestone Place.
     
    Minster Yard is likely to have been formed alongside the new cathedral, although parts are probably early in origin as the original cathedral would have been well connected with the city centre to the west. In the east of the Character Area, Minster Yard, as well as Pottergate, run north towards the old Roman East gate of the city. Alongside Eastgate and Northgate the roads are likely to have formed an eastern entranceway into the upper city for travellers ascending the escarpment slope from the south. The road also connected with an area of potteries to the northeast of the city.
     
    Areas within the Close Wall continued to be developed and redeveloped through the Early Modern Era (e.g. the Chorister’s House at Number 10 Minster Yard, as well as Number 4,5 and 5a Minster Yard), although much of the area remains as open land, including gardens and greens. As a result, High Medieval buildings and many of their plot boundaries have been preserved in the current townscape. The slow rate of redevelopment and infill is in part a consequence of the continued ownership and use of the buildings by the Dean and Chapter.
     
    Once defined, the Close Wall, as well as the cathedral became a strong boundary dictating development within the area. During the Early Modern Era [1350-1750 AD] several houses were built in the area, such as Numbers 19-27 Minster Yard, which sit tight against the Close Wall to the west. Numbers 13, 13a and 14 to the west of Pottergate were also built during the period of infill, which is likely to relate to the period of growth the city experienced during the Early Industrial Era.
     
    Development continued to a lesser extent during the following Post-railway Expansion [1846-1868] and Late Victorian/Edwardian [1896-1919 AD] period, with the construction of a handful of buildings within the Character Area. Properties include Numbers 10 and 11 Eastgate, as well as Lincoln Minster School at Number 30 Eastgate, which has elements of the former High Medieval Deanery within it. The last of three churches at St. Michael on the Mount was built in the Late Victorian/Edwardian period in the south-west of the area. Parts of the graveyard of the first High Medieval church, which was damaged in the Civil War, survive to the north of the current church.
     
    Developments in the Post War [1946-1966 AD] and Modern [1967-2009] Eras have also been limited, and include the Lincoln Hotel, which incorporates part of a house from the Early Industrial period, and extensions to the school to the east of Pottergate.
     
    Despite continual redevelopment after the High Medieval Era, the area remains strongly medieval in character which is often a result of the continued re-use or redevelopment of existing buildings. The survival of earlier elements in redeveloped buildings in particular, is a repeated characteristic of the area. This variety and surviving buildings such as the cathedral have produced a highly complex townscape that illustrates almost a millennia of Lincoln’s ecclesiastical role as the seat of the Lincoln Diocese.
  • Urban form
    The cathedral is the focal point and the dominant element of the character of the area. It is much larger in scale than surrounding buildings and its outstanding architectural style, form (including projecting and receding elements) and detailing make it the most prominent and high status building in the Character Area, and Lincoln as a whole. It has also strongly influenced the form and character of the open spaces around it, the street pattern (including Minster Yard), the houses facing the cathedral around Minster Yard and Pottergate, and the larger irregular buildings and plots to south and east (including the Bishop’s Palace).
     
    The townscape has also been strongly influenced by the long history of development in the Character Area since the High Medieval period, particularly in the variety of the form and architectural style of the buildings, as well as the street pattern and variety in the shape and size of the building plots.
     The variety of architectural style and detailing on Minster Yard and Pottergate to the east of the cathedral. The properties are built in different materials with some having more decorative detailing than others.
    Figure 3 The variety of architectural style and detailing on Minster Yard and Pottergate
     
    The Character Area is at the top of the north escarpment. The area around the cathedral is relatively flat but then the ground falls away steeply to the south. The slope is terraced in part, for example around the Bishop’s Palace. In particular, buildings within the Character Area are very prominent when seen from the south.
     
    The street pattern is an irregular grid centred on the cathedral. Minster Yard, Eastgate, Priorygate and the northern section of Pottergate create a circular around the cathedral. Greestone Place and the southern end of Pottergate run directly down the slope away from the cathedral.
     
    The urban block structure consists of large, irregularly shaped blocks which are strongly influenced by the steep topography and the impermeable boundary of the Close Wall and its gates, making access into and out of the area quite difficult, especially to the south and for vehicles generally. This, together with measures to reduce traffic within the character area, creates a feeling of relative quiet around the cathedral. However, there is a raised level of road noise from through traffic along Pottergate in the east of the area. All the roads in the area are relatively narrow and most are one way only.
     
    The size and shape of building plots are very varied, as a result of the continued development and redevelopment of the area. The majority of properties appear to have been constructed as individual development units. The buildings plots directly to the east and west of the cathedral are narrow and relatively shallow. They have buildings set at the front of the plot and which fill the width of the plot. However, the building plots to the south of Minster Yard and east of the southern section of Pottergate are large and irregularly shaped. While some buildings are set at the front of the plot, others are sited towards the centre of their plots or have their gable end facing the road. Many of these buildings have, or have had, functions associated with the cathedral (such as the Bishop’s Palace and Vicar’s Court) which have influenced their larger scale, form and spaces around them.
     
    The buildings along Minster Yard, Pottergate and Priorygate face towards the street, and towards the cathedral when they are directly opposite it. Most buildings are set at the back of the footway forming an almost continuous building line, which is reinforced by high walls at the back of the pavement. Some buildings immediately to the east and west of the cathedral have small front gardens with low walls and railings. The combination of the walls and the buildings facing the street create a contrast of active and inactive frontages throughout the area.
     
    The fairly continuous building line, buildings which are of similar height (2-3 storeys) around Minster Yard, Pottergate and Priorygate and which are set at the back of the footway or have shallow gardens, the long lengths of high walls (some forming part of the former Close Wall), mature trees, and the tall cathedral in the centre of the area all contribute to a strong sense of enclosure, albeit with quite large open spaces around the cathedral. The walls, building forms and arrangement of buildings (in a court for example, i.e. Vicar’s Court) also provide a strong sense of enclosure in the areas to the south and east of Minster Yard, such as around the Bishop’s Palace. Upper parts of the cathedral are visible from all these areas and increases the sense of enclosure.
     
    The buildings vary in scale within the area. The buildings to the south of Minster Yard are often larger in size and scale. However, the ground plan varies considerably throughout the area and buildings range from 3 to 7 bays in width, although this can only be an approximate measure as many buildings have changed so much throughout their history that they do not have identifiable bays.
    Row of properties on Pottergate. Built in varying styles as well as varies heights. The first property in the foreground of the picture is rendered and painted blue with white detailing around the windows and a balcony on the first floor.
    Figure 4 A strong sense of enclosure on Pottergate
     
    Another key characteristic of the area are the many doorways, narrow lanes and carriageway arches leading from the open spaces around the cathedral through walls or buildings into gardens, yards or roads beyond (including Exchequergate, the entrances to Vicar’s Court, the Bishop’s Palace and many private entrances). Former doorways which have been blocked up are also visible in the buildings and walls.
     Looking towards the Bishop’s Palace through two arches that are formed between walls.
    Figure 5 Looking towards the Bishop’s Palace
     
    There is a great variety of architectural form, style and detailing of buildings within the area (and in many cases within individual houses themselves), which demonstrates the complex historical development of the area. However, there are some common characteristics. The buildings are often 2-3 storeys in height with solid walls of brick or stone. They have vertical windows, many of which are wooden sash windows, and wooden panelled or ledged and battened doors. Earlier buildings also tend to have walls with a higher solid to void ratio. Roofs are usually pitched, gable roofs of slate, pantile or clay tiles, and have shallow eaves and gables. Earlier High Medieval buildings tend to have steeper roofs, sometimes behind a later parapet. Around Minster Yard and along Pottergate the roofs have their ridgeline parallel to the road. The buildings often have large chimneys built in stone. The majority of rainwater goods are cast iron.
     
    The architectural style of buildings is largely Classical or Gothic depending on the period, or phase, of construction, with many fine examples of each. Later Classical buildings tend to have more symmetrical facades with regularly spaced windows and doors, whereas the High Medieval buildings tend to be more asymmetrical, although as stated above the continual changes from the High Medieval period have created many buildings which exhibit both characteristics.
     
    There is a huge variety of architectural detailing including projecting balconies, bay or oriel windows, multi-pane sash windows with small or large panes, Classical keystones or quoins, moulded stone lintels and cills, pointed arched windows and doorways with hood moulds and detailing from the High Medieval period, some examples of High Medieval statuary and sculpted panels, horizontal stone mullioned windows from the Early Modern Period, Classical pedimented door cases, Classical fanlights, stone buttresses from the High Medieval or Early Modern periods, string courses, castellated parapets, and a few rendered facades.
     A variety of architectural detail on Pottergate showing features such as an oriel window, pointed arched windows and doorways with hood moulds and detailing from the High Medieval period.
    Figure 6 A variety of architectural detail on Pottergate
     
    Landmark buildings include the cathedral, which can be seen from over 25 miles away, and Exchequergate, which forms a key link between the cathedral and castle. Bishop’s Palace is also prominent when viewed from the south and is a key element of the stone-built townscape which forms part of the historic setting of the cathedral. Pottergate (the medieval gate rather than the road) and Priorygate are also prominent buildings in the Character Area. The cathedral also terminates many views within the character area and throughout the city. Pottergate, Exchequergate and Priorygate also terminate views within the Character Area and in surrounding Character Areas. 
     
    Much of the public realm survives from earlier periods and the wide range of stone materials used and their varied forms are a specific characteristic of the area. The footways are often riven stone paving slabs, with some sawn slabs, and have York stone dished rainwater channels and crossings of pink granite setts, small white limestone blocks or York stone setts. There are York stone kerbs and channels, and the carriageways in the west of the area are large limestone blocks and smaller setts. Many areas on corners or at the public/private boundary are made up of irregular areas of York stone setts of different size and shape. The carriageways on Eastgate and Pottergate are tarmac.
    Surviving public realm on Greestone Place as well as cast iron features of a narrow water runoff channel.
    Figure 7 Surviving public realm on Greestone Place
     
    There are many surviving cast iron features on the townscape including drainage grills, manhole covers and narrow water runoff channel, and cast iron bollards. Several Lincoln ‘Fosters’ lanterns survive in parts of the Character Area. Moulded cast iron street nameplates also survive. The area is relatively uncluttered with generally inconspicuous street furniture, which includes wooden benches, and modern black lampposts. However, there are some areas, such as the junction of Pottergate and Minster Yard, which are comparably more cluttered by modern traffic signs and bollards.
     
    The wide use of natural materials, especially stone, throughout the Character Area, both in the public realm and the built form, is a congruent characteristic of the area, exemplified by the Cathedral itself. However, the use of stone in buildings, walls and in large parts of the public realm greatly adds to this overall characteristic of the area.
    Stone buildings and public realm opposite the cathedral on Minster Yard. The public realm is paved in natural stone materials denoting the footways and carriageway.
    Figure 8 Stone buildings and public realm opposite the cathedral on Minster Yard
     
    The public space, paved in natural stone materials denoting the footways and carriageway, between the west end of the cathedral and Exchequergate is a key focal point in the area and a visitor destination.
     
    There are also many relatively large greens around the cathedral, some with trees and surrounded by low stone walls. The greens are key elements of the townscape, forming part of the cathedrals setting, emphasising its prominence and scale. However, open spaces are entirely enclosed by the cathedral and buildings and walls around Minster Yard and Pottergate. The open spaces, or greens, and the large rear gardens and grounds to south of Minster Yard and the east of Pottergate (e.g. around the Bishops palace, Christs Hospital terrace, Vicar’s Court and St Mary’s Preparatory School) create a relatively low building density in the area.
    View of Lincoln Cathedral with Vicar’s Court in the foreground.
    Figure 9 Vicar’s Court with the cathedral behind
     
    Mature trees in the greens and the large rear gardens and grounds of houses around the cathedral contribute to the setting of building sin the Character Area, especially when seen from the lower city and surroundings.
  • Views
    There are many confined views of the cathedral throughout the Character Area. Views along Minster Yard and Pottergate which include the cathedral, buildings facing the cathedral, the streetscape and open spaces with trees and grassed areas, illustrate the strong relationship of the townscape to the cathedral.
     
    There are more distant and wide ranging views of the south escarpment and lower city from within the Character Area, particularly on the edge of the north escarpment, for example near St Michael on the Mount, around the Bishop’s Palace and Greestone Place
     View from Bishop's Palace showing the south escarpment.
    Figure 10 The south escarpment from the Bishop's Palace
  • Condition of Buildings and Streetscape
    In general the buildings in the Character Area are in good condition and works of repair are often ongoing, especially for the cathedral. The pavements and carriageway are good condition, although there are some less well maintained areas of private yards along Greestone Place. Some areas of walling are also in poor condition.
  • Use
    The cathedral forms a centre point for of the ecclesiastical use in the Character Area, although there are many associated offices of the Diocese and Dean and Chapter in the surrounding buildings. Many of the buildings are in residential use, especially around Minster Yard. There are two schools in the area, Lincoln Minster Preparatory School on Eastgate and St Mary’s preparatory school on Pottergate which also has further buildings and sports areas to the east of Pottergate. The Character Area as a whole, and particularly the cathedral, is a major visitor and tourist destination, including the Bishop’s Palace. Edward King House and the Lincoln Hotel provide hotel accommodation and conference facilities.
  • Relationship to City and Surrounding Areas
    The Cathedral Character Area is a strong focal point for the upper city, including the surrounding Character Areas, the city of Lincoln as a whole, and the wider rural setting of Lincoln. This is in part because the cathedral itself is a conspicuous landmark building sitting on top of the north escarpment prominent in all directions from miles around.
     
    Strong links in terms of character, and relatively good pedestrian access, to the Bailgate and Castle Hill Character Area and the Castle Character Area to the west (and to a lesser extent to Eastgate Character Area to the east and St James Street Character Area to the north) help create a wider neighbourhood in the upper city which has a character which is strongly influenced by nearly 2000 years of change and is a major tourist destination.
     
    Pedestrian access to surrounding areas is easier, although there is no direct access to the south east towards the commercial centre of the lower city. The Character Area has relatively good pedestrian connections to the west along Eastgate and through Exchequergate. Pedestrian access to the south is only via Greestone Place and Pottergate. There is pedestrian access to the east via Eastgate and Lindum Road, although not through the large urban block in between. Pedestrian access to the north is via Northgate and James Street.
     
    Vehicle access in all directions is quite restricted, in part due to the influence of the earlier Roman defensive walls and the medieval Close Wall and their defensive gateways, as well as the steep slope to the south. However there is no vehicle access to the south or west, in part due to one-way streets and the gateways. Vehicle access to the north is via Northgate and to the east only via Eastgate. The poor vehicle connections mean that Minster Yard is relatively quiet, although through traffic on Minster Yard and Pottergate in the east of the area creates more road noise.
  • Key Townscape Characteristics
    ·          The cathedral is the dominant influence on the character of the area both as an individual building and through its influence on the surrounding townscape
    ·          Earlier townscape elements which still influence the current character include:
    o         The High Medieval cathedral
    o         The14th century Close Wall and gateways
    o         The High Medieval Bishops Palace
    o         The medieval street pattern
    o         High Medieval buildings and building plots
    o         Houses from the Early Industrial period
    ·          The Exchequergate is a landmark building and forms a key gateway between the cathedral and castle
    ·          Common characteristics of the buildings include:
    o         2-3 storeys in height
    o         Solid walls of brick or stone
    o         Vertical windows (many wooden sash windows)
    o         Wooden panelled or ledged and battened doors
    o         Pitched, gable roofs of slate, pantile or clay tiles
    o         Roofs with ridge line parallel to the road (around Minster Yard)
    o         Cast iron rainwater goods
    o         Chimneys of brick or stone, some large
    ·          The great variety of architectural style and detailing of the houses in the Character Area (and in many cases within individual houses themselves) demonstrates the complex historical development of the area
    ·          The variety in plot size and shape also demonstrates the complex historical development of the area
    ·          There is a strong sense of enclosure, including quite large enclosed spaces, due to the large scale cathedral, the continuous building line of 2-3 storey buildings around Minster yard and the many long, high stone and brick walls
    ·          There are many doorways, narrow lanes and carriageway arches leading from the open spaces around the cathedral through walls or buildings into open spaces, gardens, yards or roads beyond
    ·          Greens around the cathedral, some with trees and surrounded by low stone walls, form part of the cathedral’s setting, emphasising its prominence and scale
    ·          The paved public space between the cathedral and Exchequergate is a key focal point and visitor destination
    ·          The use of natural materials, especially stone, in buildings, walls and the public realm throughout the area, is a congruent characteristic of the Character Area
    ·          A relatively high building density is offset by greens and open public spaces to the front of buildings and large rear gardens and yards to the rear
    ·          The area retains is function as an ecclesiastical core with many buildings associated with the role of the cathedral at the at the centre
    ·          The area, in conjunction with neighbouring Character Areas, forms a key tourist destination for Lincolnshire and the East Midlands
    ·          There are many confined views of the cathedral throughout the Character Area, as well as more distant and wide ranging views of the south escarpment and lower city
    ·          Sitting on top of the north escarpment the cathedral is also a landmark building and centre point seen throughout the city and for many miles around