Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Lincoln High Street - Part 1

A detail of the crest above the entrance to Lloyd's Bank

After getting off the train, my day out in Lincoln had begun by having a good look at the church of St. Mary-le-Wigford and St. Mary’s Conduit and, 25 minutes later, deciding that a visit to the outlying church of St. Peter at Gowts and St. Mary’s Guildhall would have to wait until another day, when both were open, I headed along High Street into the town centre.
A view along Lincoln High Street

Passing a few listed buildings of no great interest to this Language of Stone Blog, I turned right into Cornhill and took a few photos of the former Corn Exchange, which was originally built in 1847, with the addition of the east range in 1880.
The former Corn Exchange

The stone used here is Ancaster stone, an oolite quarried from the Jurassic Lincolnshire Limestone Formation just outside the village of Ancaster, where the Romans built a fortified town on Ermine Street to control passage through the Ancaster Gap and nearby ancient trackways.
A column made of Ancaster stone

Looking closely at the ashlar blocks, ripples and graded beds, which vary in colour, can easily be distinguished and these are particularly well developed in the stone used in the columns, where the banding is quite obvious from a distance.
River Island
Returning to High Street, the recently built River Island shop caught my eye and, going over to have a close look at the stonework, I immediately recognised this as the variety of Ancaster limestone known as ‘weatherbed’ or Ancaster Rag.
A close up of Ancaster 'weatherbed'

When working at the Gregory Quarry in Mansfield, I sawed this very dense and often blue hearted stone along with Ancaster ‘hard white’, which is less dense and much softer in comparison. It occurs above the ‘hard white’ and ‘freestone’ in the quarry and is packed full of gastropod fossils and other shell debris, with a crystalline cement, and its durability makes it very suitable for plinths and parapets in buildings.
'Blue hearted' Ancaster stone at Glebe Quarry

This stone also takes a good polish, with its colour variation making it a very popular material for internal flooring. A particularly good example of this can be seen at the extension to The Collection museum in Lincoln but, unfortunately, this was shut due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.  
Ancaster 'weatherbed' flooring

Next door to River Island, Lloyd’s Bank is also built in Ancaster limestone, which like that seen at the former Corn Exchange is the ‘freestone’ variety. Dating to 1902 and originally the Capital and Counties Bank, it is built in the Baroque Revival style, with ashlar masonry and a rusticated ground floor and quoins.
Lloyd's Bank
The building was being scaffolded at the time of my visit, obscuring much of the stonework, but it was possible to obtain a glimpse of the finely carved crest with figures above the splayed entrance, where the stone has weathered with a light brown patina.
Figurative sculpture on Lloyd's Bank

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