This week I was very lucky in that I was given a week placement at one of the most impressive buildings in the country. Once the tallest medieval tower in Europe. The spire that once took place on top of the tallest tower reportedly stood at a height of 160 metres. Lincoln Cathedral was built in-between the years of 1185-1311 and in its own right is a little bit of a star in the film world being used in a couple of scenes of ‘The Da-Vinci Code’ and ‘Young Victoria’.
I really jumped at the chance to spend some time here. A few of the other apprentice’s on the course have spent some time here at the Cathedral working with the other trades. The Cathedral has several full time staff in various trades including carpenters, roofers and stonemasons. All of the apprentice’s that had been given this opportunity spoke very highly of everyone involved.
I arrived in Lincoln on Sunday greeted by what I would describe as a snow ‘blizzard’ I felt like I was trekking across the Arctic, all that was missing was a couple of husky dogs pulling me along, in reality I was just walking past Topman on the way to my BNB trying to look at my phone to follow the map.
The first couple of days in Lincoln were spent inside, due the temperature it was not possible to build outside (surprise, surprise) I placed inside the Cathedral with the other bricklayers in what is now known as the ‘boiler room’
I was to help them take down some existing walls. These walls were only small but needed to be removed as the old boiler used to sit on top of them. I was told that this room was once used to store some of the most treasured and expensive items owned by the Cathedral. It sure is impressive to say the least!
On Wednesday the weather was finally on our side and it was mild enough for us to continue the work they had started the previous weeks in building a new wall in one of the gardens surrounding the Cathedral. The Cathedral itself also owns around eighty properties that surround the cathedral itself, all of which are cared for by the staff. The wall I was helping to build was replacing an old wall that had been taken down as it was deemed unsafe upon inspection. This is the case of a lot of the work around here. I was told the most of the maintenance work on the surrounding properties was forgotten about for around thirty years due to the amount of work that was needed on the Cathedral itself. It is also hugely down to the funding they receive. It was great to get outside and do a little bit, this was nothing I had not done before but as I am sure you can imagine after the past couple of months or so, just being out with a trowel in my hand was great.
After a great day building Mr. Weather was once again against me and my mission to do some productive work. Lincoln was once again hit by snow the following day. Fortunately we still had some work to do in the boiler room so we were all kept busy throughout the day and it did give me a great opportunity to get some nice pictures of the Cathedral.
On Friday I was given a tour of the Cathedral. I was really looking forward to this I am sure you can imagine! Our first stop was to see what the stonemasons were currently working on on one of the towers. I was given an explanation about the work the team were currently doing and showed all the progress they have made, it really surprised me at how much work they have all actually done and even more so at how much work there is still to do! The guys working here are obviously hugely talented and it shows. I was really impressed by how the Cathedral had let some of the masons have a free-reign in some of the work that was being replaced.
I was then shown around the inside of the Cathedral, even the inside is hugely impressive, some of the original stonework is really breathtaking! This includes what is known as the ‘apprentice wall’ This is where the stonemasonry apprentices back in the day would work on to prove they were good enough for more advanced challenges. It was then time to go up.
I was taken up the towers and along the very narrow walkways that looked down on the ground level. I was also given the great opportunity to lose my hearing – I was shown around the clock tower just when it was time….DING DONG – Let me tell you – it was loud! The vibration of the bells seemed to go through me it was a great experience! After I got my hearing back and the room had stopped shaking I was then taken to the top of the tallest tower. I felt like my legs were going to drop off by the time we reached the top, I think there is around 370 steps to the top. Once there though it was more than worth it, you can literally see for miles!
It really struck me a though, how challenging it would have been to build the Cathedral when It was, even with today’s technology It would be a huge feat but to build something so tall and impressive to do this in that period, it really is incredible! Not to mention that I was only at the base of where the spire used to sit, how they managed to get the top of the spire to finish it was beyond me, I bet the young apprentice had an adventurous time that day!
As the week finished I ventured back home with a huge smile on my face. I had a great time in Lincoln and I was treated very well by all the staff involved, to them I would like to send a MASSIVE thank you for having me and giving me to opportunity to look around the workshops and the Cathedral. It was an experience I won’t forget in a hurry!
If you’re ever in the area I really do recommend you make the trip to look around you will not be disappointed!
(ALL PICTURES ON THIS POST WERE TAKEN BY ME)