I have lost count of the number of times that we have visited Lincoln Castle. It’s not a full day out unless you really take your time and don’t miss out on walking the walls. Visiting on an event day can certainly be a full day out. But we love it as it’s so different from many other castles that we have visited. Today I am bringing you my 8 great reasons to visit Lincoln castle. Plus a review and information for visiting Lincoln castle.
A Brief History of Lincoln Castle
Location – Castle Hill, Lincoln LN1 3AA, Lincolnshire.
Lincoln castle is situated at the very top of Lincoln. North of the shops on top of the hill that benefits from far reaching views. It is located opposite to Lincoln Cathedral which is also worth a visit and is a great place to combine a visit to the castle with. You can even purchase a discount ticket that entitles you to visit both Lincoln Castle and Lincoln Cathedral. You can read more about Lincoln Cathedral in my review –
Lincoln Castle is a Norman castle which was constructed in the late 11th Century by William the Conqueror. It is just one of two castles in the UK to have two mottes. There would have been wooden structures within the walls for living and working quarters. That is now all gone and what remains inside today is the prison which was built in 1787 which you are able to look around, including the intriguing chapel. Another building on site is the Crown court which was built in 1845 and is still in use today. This is not open to visitors of the castle.
1. Walk the Castle Walls – Medieval Wall Walk
The castle walls at Lincoln castle were fully restored just a few years ago. This now means that you can walk the entire way around the castle. Where there aren’t stone steps or walkways they have added metal replacements. There is a lift going up to the top but, to be honest, if you need the lift to go up it may not be an idea to attempt the full walk. It takes quite a while to do the full walk and there’s a lot of steps up and down. Towards the end of the walk, there’s even a tall tower to climb, the Observatory tower, with incredible views but this isn’t essential to getting around.
The views from the wall walk are incredible. With a fabulous view of Lincoln Cathedral and across to the centre of Lincoln and beyond. There is literally 360o views. The walk is a third of a mile long.
At Lucy tower, there are the graves of those executed here for various crimes. They have simple markers featuring only the initials of the condemned and the date of death. William Frederick Horry is buried in the Lucy Tower, along with many other criminals’ graves.
Along the walk, there are plenty of signs. Most are a guide to landmarks in the view. Others tell you the history of the castle and more. You can also take an audio tour around the castle walls.
2. See the Magna Carta
During the restoration of the walls, at Lincoln castle, they also built a purpose-built building to house the Magna Carta. In a darkened room you can now see the document that was written in 1215. This document has huge importance as it was an agreement to a charter of libertees that would change history forever. It enshrined the principle that the king had to act within the rule of law and became one of the most celebrated documents in history.
You can also see the ‘re-issued’ Magna Carta from 1217 the Charter of the forest. They are both on permanent loan from Lincoln Cathedral. You are not allowed to take any photos in this room.
Also in the building, they have a 210-degree widescreen cinema which plays a film on a loop about King John, the Barrons and the birth of the Magna Carta.
3. Visit the Prison at Lincoln Castle
Visiting the prison is always the highlight of our visit. Mostly because a lot of the old prison cells now house interactive exhibits which is always welcome with kids in tow. The prison dates back to Victorian times and it very much looks today how much it will have looked back then.
In the men’s half of the prison, some of the cells are set up how they would have looked. Others have prison activities such as washing, wool sorting, games and more, all are interactive. (Lancaster castle/prison please take note!).
Men, women and children as young as 8 were held here, some for things we would never consider a major crime today such as stealing a bible. Also in the men’s section, there are cells which play some of the prisoner’s stories as images on the walls. The female prison is a lot smaller and houses a few exhibitions and craft activities for children.
4. Enjoy the grounds
The grounds at Lincoln castle are free to visit. You need a ticket to walk the castle walls, see the Magna Carta and to visit the Victorian prison (including the chapel). There’s a grassed hill perfect for rolling down and a flatter area which is great for picnics. It’s a lovely spot to sit and chill while the kids run around exploring in safety.
5. Pretend to be a prisoner in the Chapel
You will also need a ticket to visit the prison chapel at Lincoln castle. When you enter the prison building there are some steps up to the left (just before the door to the Magna Carta walkway). This is where you will find the chapel and it’s well worth a visit. It is very unique and like nothing I’ve seen before. Prisoners were led there in a segregated manner which is how they also lived in the main prison. They were covered in hoods so they couldn’t see each other and each prisoner would then be led into a separate booth. Here they would sit out of view to each other.
You can still go in a few of the booths today and if you walk up to the pulpit you will notice that some of the booths have mannequins in which are dressed like prisoners. It’s got quite an atmosphere to it. We often spend quite a while in here, Jamie loves standing in the booths or walking up to look down on us.
6. Visit on an Event Day
The grounds are also home to quite a few events throughout the year. One of our favourites is the Grand Medieval joust which they host every year. Please follow this link to find out more about their event days. You can read my review of the Grand Medieval joust here – Lincoln Castle – Grand Medieval Joust – Event Review.
They have various different pricing options at Lincoln castle. For example for £30.00 you can purchase an adult annual pass to the Castle. Or you can pay £13.50 for a day ticket which gives you entry to the prison, Magna Carta and wall walk. Or you can pay just £7.50 to walk the walls. Children under 5 are free and a child ticket is a couple of pounds cheaper than an adult.
As mentioned above you can purchase a castle and cathedral combined ticket. This gives you a days entry to everything at the castle and cathedral. This is £17.20 for an adult and £13.90 for a child. Please be aware that the Cathedral does have restricted opening for services and other events. We visited on a graduation day once and we were able to visit for free but with restrictions. This also applies to a Sunday. Find out more about Lincoln Cathedral – Lincoln Cathedral – Trying an Explorer Backpack – Review.
Parking near to the castle is fairly limited and spaces can fill up fast. We often travel by train into Lincoln and then either walk up to the top or take a taxi up. If you do walk up you can experience Steep Hill – which is indeed steep, very steep.
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