Since its foundation in the Roman Military Era Lincoln’s population has fluctuated, reacting in the main to the changing fortunes of the city’s economy. In broad terms, prosperous times have excited large-scale residential expansion as well as individual expressions of great wealth, whereas times of recession and hardship have seen a dearth of development if not the abandonment and retraction of settlement. The character of residential growth is also an expression of Lincoln’s reaction to national politics and trends, such as the instigation of the Public Health Act of 1875, the austere times of the Post-war period, and new approaches to the planning of large-scale developments, including local housing schemes (see Swanpool Character Area and Birchwood Estate Character Area).
Throughout Lincoln’s early history the defensive enclosures of the upper and lower cities, as first laid out in the Roman Military and Colonia Eras, have formed a haven for development. Many or the earliest examples of residential houses, as early as the High Medieval Era, survive within the former defensive enclosures. Standing remains of stone built and timber framed houses from the High Medieval and Early Modern Eras are common within the former walled enclosures (see Steep Hill and The Strait Character Area and Bailgate and Castle Hill Character Area). Although these residences are not entirely limited to the former defensive enclosures, with other examples such as St. Mary’s Guildhall and Whitefriars located off or near contemporary road infrastructure, in the case of the two latter houses, High Street.
Fig.1 The 12th century St. Mary's Guildhall along lower High Street
During the relatively prosperous times of the High Medieval Era the city expanded in the form of residential and market suburbs located outside the main gateways to the city: Wigford to the south, Newport to the north, Newland to the West and Butwerk to the East. The suburbs influenced later development, most often in the layout of former market places and roads (see Newport Character Area and Newland Character Area). Defensive or delineative boundaries around two suburbs also survive, most clearly in the form of Sincil Dyke, which surrounded the Wigford Suburb.
With the construction of the Cathedral beginning in the late 11th century a new ecclesiastical district was created and enclosed with a defensive wall in the early 14th century (see ‘Ecclesiatsical Section below). Many of the buildings within the Close wall date from the High Medieval and Early Modern Eras, surviving as the most complete example of a group of buildings from Lincoln’s early history.
Decline of the city in the Early Modern Era appears to have caused a retraction of settlement, much of the focus for development centred on the former suburbs outside the city walls as well as land within the upper and lower city defences. Depopulation and contraction occurred to such an extent that several areas within the former Roman defences reverted to open land. However, the growth of the city in the Early Industrial period led to the expansion of the city, and the construction of homes to house an entrepreneurial middle class elite, as well as a burgeoning workforce.
Much of the poorer housing associated with this phase of development has been lost, with few surviving examples around the city (e.g. Character Areas). Typically in the form of courts, housing for this Early Industrial period was subject to a programme of clearance in the early 20th century for reasons health and cleanliness. Passageways leading to the rear of buildings are often the only surviving trace of the existence of such courts (see St. Botolph’s Character Area). However, towards the end of the Early Industrial period houses adopted a form that was to prevail for the following 100 years or more: Rows of terraced houses. Surviving terraces of this period are relatively rare compared to their Late Victorian/Edwardian counterparts. Often locating along older road infrastructure examples of this type of housing mostly survive in small groups, and are noticeable trough their small scale, high solid to void ratios, traditional materials, plainness and position close to or at the back of the footway (see Northgate and Church Lane Character Area, West Parade and Beaumont Fee Character Area, and Radial Roads Character Area).
Fig. 2 Three cottages dating to the late 18th of early 19th century in West Parade and Beaumont Fee Character Area
Like their poorer counterparts, elite buildings of this period are too a comparatively rare occurrence in Lincoln. These large dwellings usually occur in groups along prominent roads and gateways to the city, many of which are now overcome with traffic (see Lindum Hill Character Area, Eastgate Character Area and Newport Character Area) with exception of those within the protective bounds of the Close Wall. The houses often have a symmetrical layout of doors and windows, and are generally plain in style, with the exception of some neo-classical features, notably around entranceways. Several individual houses also survive within the city, again generally along prominent roads, such as the 18th century re-fronted Garmston House (see High Street Character Area) and the large property at the junction of Steep Hill and Danesgate (see Steep Hill and The Strait Character Area).
Lincoln continued to prosper throughout the 19th century, and the arrival of the railways in 1846 and 1848 was a key catalyst for industrial and residential growth. The great wealth that derived from this period of expansion is manifested in a series of elite suburbs around the city, within which lavish and large scale houses, often within expansive plots, compete for prominence and individuality. Like earlier elite dwellings, the houses are located in prominent locations, and consequently often intermingle with earlier high status residences (see Newland Character Area and Drury Lane Character Area). However, such was the scale of the city’s expansion that entirely new suburbs were created on open land around the city’s fringes (see Yarborough Road and The Avenue Character Area, Lindum Terrace Character Area and Northgate and Church Lane Character Area). Development of formerly open areas allowed for a low density of housing, with houses set in spacious landscaped gardens. The form and decoration of houses is often competing, and can be regarded to some extent as Lincoln’s architectural response to the ‘Battle of the Styles’, most plainly seen in the mixture of Gothic Revival, Tudoresque, and Classical architectural styles in Lindum Terrace Character Area.
Fig. 3 Large-scale classically proportioned villa in Lindum Terrace with neo-classical stone porch within shallow projecting central bay, and stone dressed window surrounds
Often accompanying the mature and spacious garden plots are high wall and tall gates, adding to the sense of exclusivity in the middle to high-class suburbs.
From the Early Industrial period onwards, brick had increasingly become the material of choice. Like with stone, the local availability of clay meant the city had ready access to materials needed for brick manufacturing. In turn, the prevalence of brick as a cheaper construction material defined stone as a high status construction material. Prior to the establishment of major brickworks in the west of the city (see Industrial section below), brick was manufactured by hand in relatively small quantities. This ‘hand made brick’ is used in many areas of the city until the mid 19th century, and contrasts in texture and hue with the later mass manufactured brick. Mass manufactured brick, which became available from local brickworks above West Common and via the new railway lines, differs in size, colour and texture to the hand made brick. Non-local bricks have often been used to emphasise a building’s individuality, most commonly seen in the use of lighter buff or beige coloured brick within decoration, or less frequently to construct entire buildings of facades. It is likely that the non indigenous brick came at a premium, and hence had an associated cachet. This well illustrated by the use of buff coloured brick in the front facades and chimneys of Numbers 49-53 Danesgate, which to their rears are made of a common red brick.
The most patent expression of brick construction during the period of Lincoln industrial growth, is in the provision of middle to lower class terraced housing. Between 1871 and 1881 Lincoln’s population grew by 10,590 inhabitants, an increase of almost 40%. The need to house a growing workforce and their families was met by the construction of row upon row of terraced housing, mainly on open land to all sides of the city centre. The housing was an alternative to many of the early courts, which had been deemed uninhabitable according to the Public Health Act of 1875. With the new housing came sewerage, running water, pavements, and street lighting, much of which survives in the public realm today.
Fig.4 Late Victorian terraced houses in Sincil Dyke west character Area
Housing developed at a rapid pace, and on greenfield sites often took place within the framework of the former field enclosures. One or more fields would redeveloped at any one time and, as a result, roads, building lines and plot boundaries often reflect the orientation of former field boundaries (see Monks Road Character Areas).
A new grid-iron network of roads provided much of the framework for housing in the Post-Railway Expansion and Late Victorian/Edwardian Periods, although existing main roads continued to be the focus for linear expansion (see Newark Road Character Area and Burton Road Character Area). Taken as a whole terraced housing of this period is remarkable for its consistency in scale, form and construction materials. This great expression of regularity is the earliest example of building ‘en masse’ in the city, providing an insight into the use of prefabricated materials within large-scale developments.
Yet variances exist within what appears to be a conformist and standardised townscape. Variation is most apparent between individual build units as opposed to individual houses. The palette of decorative and construction materials used in terraced houses appears to be finite. Many decorative features, such as patterns of moulded brickwork, different coloured bricks, as well as styles of bay windows or door lintels, are replicated in terraced houses in disparate parts of the city’s late Victorian/Edwardian townscapes. However, through the varied selection and arrangement of materials, a great number of often highly individual permutations are created. When considering the assemblage of terraced houses in Lincoln as a whole, the subtle variations between build units, locally or at a citywide scale, often indicate the former social patterns of a neighbourhood. For example, the large ornate terraced houses with small forecourts and bay windows on the escarpment slope to the west of The Arboretum contrast with those immediately to the south, which are smaller in scale, set at the back of the footway and plain in decoration. The latter houses were closer to the industrial works across the other side of the River Witham, and housed many of the employees that worked there. The cleaner air of the escarpment slope, with its commanding views to the south, was clearly a comparably higher status area to locate.
It is from the late 19th century that purpose built semi-detached houses first begin to appear in Lincoln, initiating a period of ‘suburbanisation’ that still continues today. Semi-detached houses were developed for an emerging middle class as an alternative to terraced houses, but were not as grand or costly as a fully detached house. Correspondingly, many early semi-detached houses are located in areas of detached houses, and occasionally form the transition between detached and terraced houses of similar date (see West Parade Character Area). Late Victorian/Edwardian semi-detached properties are most often located within walking distance of the city centre, most commonly along main roads as well as within and bordering the more affluent suburbs. The expansion along main and radial roads took place in the housing boom of the Inter-war period. The increased use of the private motorcar allowed for the linear expansion of middle class housing for considerable distances along main roads (see North and South Lincoln Ribbon Development Character Areas and Skellingthorpe Character Area). Houses of the period of Inter-war expansion have a strong and identifiable character. Houses are set back from roads in spacious plots, commonly with a gabled feature above a single or two-storey bow window and a semi-circular arch over a recessed main entranceway. Coherences in materials and building form demonstrate the continued construction of houses with prefabricated materials and standardised designs, similar to that seen in the late 19th century terraced houses. Semi-detached Inter-war houses are often differentiated from each other through varying decoration in the gable ends facing the road. The designs often included mock-Tudor timber framing, but are occasionally reflect contemporary architectural improvements such as the sunburst decoration, typical of Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles.
Fig. 5 House with sunburst in gable end along one of Lincoln's northerly radial roads
Although the legacy of terraced housing of the Late Victoria/Edwardian period continued during the Inter-war and Post-war Periods in a handful of areas (see Bracebridge Character Area), there was a concerted move towards the delivery of housing in the form of expansive estates. The developments took place on formerly undeveloped land at the edges of the built up area of the city, and like the earlier Victorian developments, the layout of houses and infrastructure often still reflects the pre-existing pattern of land division. The early 20th century was also a period when Council Housing was first built in Lincoln. The passing of the Housing, Town and Country Planning Act in 1919, committed the Government to subsidise the provision of new houses. House construction in the Inter-war period was also inspired by the need to provide homes for soldiers returning form World War I, known as ‘Homes for Heroes’. The first Council Houses built in Lincoln were constructed on Wragby Road (see St. Giles Character Area) in 1919. The houses formed the front to a large estate lying between Nettleham and Wragby Road, which was largely complete by the mid 1930’s. Several houses dating from this phase of Lincoln’s expansion are evocative of the contemporary architectural styles, as well as the trends of the laying out of large-scale estates. Many dwellings have features of the Arts and Crafts Style, and the layout of streets, buildings and open spaces were clearly influenced by the Garden Suburb Movement (see Swanpool Character Area and St. Giles Character Area). There is often a careful arrangement of buildings along streets and a notable increase on the amount of open space compared to the earlier Late Victorian/Edwardian terraced housing. Many streets have tall mature trees forming avenues, and the boundaries to the front of houses are defined by privet hedges as opposed to hard walls or fences. Roads are well connected too, often forming circular routes, recognising the increased use of the private motor-car.
Fig. 6 Housing built c.1919 in the east of St. Giles Character Area. The decoration and form of the houses are clearly inspired by the Arts and Craft Movement with deep flared eaves, mansard roof, harled facades and decorative use of tile
The Second World War brought housing development in the city to a standstill, and many planned developments in the city were mothballed, only to be resurrected in the Post-war period (see Broadway Character Area). The Post-war period saw the construction of several large public housing estates (see Hartsholme Estate Character Area, Ermine East Character Area and Moorland Character Area). Many developments continued in a similar style to those of the Inter-war period, echoing in an more austere fashion some of the characteristics of the Garden Suburb Movement and Arts and Crafts Style (see Ermine East Character Area and Ermine West Character Area). The austerity of the period led to a plain and pragmatic building style, concisely symbolised by the construction of groups of prefabricated bungalows, several of which survive around the city (see Honington Character Area and St. Giles Character Area).
Despite the austerity of the Post-war period several other estates at this time illustrate the experimental ways in which Britain as nation was emerging from the rigours of the aftermath of the Second World War. This was the time of the Festival of Britain, where new Modernist concepts were intermingling with the need for inexpensive construction and design methods to create low-cost housing. Many of the estates at this time reflect the experimental change in attitude and the emergence of a modernist style (see Hartsholme Estate Character Area).
Fig. 7 Appartment block with robust modernsist conrete features such as balconies, window sills and lintels (Hartsholme Estate Character Area)
The creation of large-scale housing estates on open land around the city centre continued into the 1960;s and 1970’s. Experimentation with architectural styles was matched with changing ways in which estates were being planned. The series of estates that make up Birchwood Character Area, show evolving ways in which local authority housing was planned between 1960 and 1980, in particular the relationships between communal open spaces, road and pedestrian access, local amenities, and housing.
Alongside the large-scale public housing developments in the Post-war and Modern periods were numerous smaller scale developments within existing built up areas of the city. These smaller estates often comprehensively redeveloped areas of existing housing, or were developed on remaining areas of open space (see Witham to High Street Character Area, Chapel Lane Character Area and Burton Road Character Area). Often within areas of Late Victorian/Edwardian terraced housing, the more recent developments are in stark contrast to their surroundings. Locating closer to the city centre than their large-scale suburban counterparts, the infill public housing estates are generally higher in density being made up of a mixture of terraced houses and apartment blocks set within communal areas of open space.
The ‘Right to Buy’ scheme introduced in 1980 has had a dramatic impact on the character of many public housing estates. Uptake of the scheme varies throughout the city, and is frequently localised, often dependent on the form and style of houses, as well as the availability of the scheme itself. Where taken up, the scheme has considerable effects on local character, transforming the regular patterns of the council maintained streets into a plethora of individual expressions, as residents adapt their houses to their own needs (see Birchwood Estate Character Area).
Fig. 8 A property in Birchwood Estate Character Area personalised through the additon of a large porch, chnage of the public/private boundary, and brick cleaned front facade
Throughout the Modern period residential expansion of Lincoln has continued in the form of large-scale estates built on land around the city edges. However, since the 1980’s, the development of housing has increasingly been undertaken as a private enterprise.
The provision of social or affordable housing still continues, albeit through an agreement between the council and the private developer. The city council is able to impose on the development the provision of an agreed proportion of ‘affordable housing’ or ‘social housing’. This negotiable agreement between council and developer is frequently manifested in the townscape as a nucleated group of affordable homes within a larger residential estate (see St. George’s Character Area). Differences in scale, quality of materials, density and tall plot boundaries often isolate the areas from surrounding privately owned housing.
Fig. 9 Modern housing built using a standard 'palette' of materials and building forms within Birchwood Modern Suburb
Houses within Modern private developments are generally a mixture of semi-detached and detached properties, except in the case of ‘affordable housing’, which often takes the form of short rows or apartments. The estates often consist of a number of discrete build units, commonly built around a branching network of cul-de-sacs. The lack of any connectivity between streets, and the detached nature of dwellings emphasises the individuality and privacy of houses. However, initial housing construction in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, is dominated by houses within build units are often highly coherent in character as builders sought to reduce costs by using a small number of generic house designs and limited palette of building materials.