Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Castle Hill & Exchequergate in Lincoln

The view of Lincoln Cathedral from Castle Hill

Leaving the east gate of Lincoln Castle, having spent only a few minutes in the castle grounds, I carried on to Castle Hill, a large open space paved with stone setts, from which the west front of Lincoln Cathedral can be seen towering above its surroundings.
A view of Castle Hill

Its position makes it an obvious meeting place for groups and the extensively restored Leigh-Pemberton House, which was originally a merchant’s house dating to c.1543, is now the tourist information office; however, although convenient for tourists who come primarily to visit the cathedral and castle and most likely arrive at ‘uphill’ Lincoln, by car or coach, it does not serve visitors who arrive by train very well.
Leigh-Pemberton House

Having lived in the city twice, and carefully planned my day out in Lincoln using the internet, I didn’t even look to see if there were any maps or any other tourist information at the railway station, but this would be a good idea.
The church of St. Mary Magdalene

If time had been on my side I would have mentioned this at the tourist office, as I could have done with some information about Lincoln’s Roman sites, but I instead continued to Exchequergate, where the church of St. Mary Magdalene occupies the corner with Bailgate.
The west elevation of St. Mary Magdalene's church

This church, which I had never been inside, dates back to the C13, but was rebuilt in 1695 and remodelled by G F Bodley in 1882. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, it was closed to the public but I managed to take a couple of surprising good photos through the window.
The interior of St. Mary Magdalene's church

I stopped only long enough to note the yellow/brown patina that had developed on the Lincoln stone, which is quite dirty in places and contrasts strongly with the adjoining mid C14 Exchequergate, which along with Pottergate Arch formed one of several gates in the wall that surrounded the cathedral close.
The east elevation of Exchequergate

A recent programme of cleaning and repairs at Exchequergate prompted various members of the public to comment on social media that it “looks too new”. The cleaning of historic buildings such as this has led to contentious debate, because not only can it remove the dirt but also the patina that has developed over the years and which is considered to give these buildings ‘character’.
A weathered headstop on Exchequergate

Having worked in London, in the specialist sector of the construction industry that cleans and restores buildings, I have seen very many examples of thick black clinker like deposits that have accumulated in sheltered places, where the rain does not wash the dirt off the building.
Weathered headstops on Exchequergate
The burning of coal, in both domestic and industrial situations, produces sulphurous compounds that react with limestone to produce calcium sulphate, which recrystallises in the pores of the stone with a force that can break it apart – and will continue to damage the stone until all of the dirt, which contains such deleterious chemicals, has been removed.
A newly carved headstop on Exchequergate

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