When history is on your doorstep

As I gaze out of my office window in deepest Lincolnshire, I can see, about a mile away across two fields, a few more houses. From the back of the house – how I long to make the bathroom my office and put in a huge picture window – I can see fields, the rise of the Lincolnshire Wolds and lots of trees. In other words, I live in the middle of nowhere.

And yet, within a fifty-minute drive, I can be in in the midst of so much English history.

In Lincoln Cathedral, you can see a facsimile of one of the four copies of Magna Carta brought back to the city by its bishop in 1215. The original is in Lincoln Castle, another fascinating place to explore. The cathedral also houses the tombs of Katherine Swynford, third wife of John of Gaunt and their daughter, Joan Beaufort. In this marriage lay the origins of the Wars of the Roses in the 1460s. We mustn’t forget the Lincoln Imp; find him if you can. A statue of Alfred, Lord Tennyson is on the East Green. I have been to a post-concert gathering in the house where he grew up in the small village of Somersby. There are many trails you can follow from Lincoln, including one about the 1217 Battle of Lincoln, when William Marshal, at the age of 70, led the charge to take the city back from the French.

And when you have visited the cathedral and castle, I invite you to a trip down Steep Hill to see the Jew’s House, now a restaurant, but be mindful that you will have to walk back up the hill!

Gainsborough Old Hall is across the county about 40 minutes away. A mediaeval manor house, it was inhabited by Sir Thomas Burgh who had a land argument with two local magnates in 1469. They tried to burn the hall down and the whole episode ended in a meeting of Lincolnshire rebels and Edward IV at Empingham near Stamford. This is the inciting incident of the first of the Gethin Wilde Chronicles I shall be writing later this year. Other notable visitors were Richard III in 1483 and Henry VIII with Catherine Howard in 1541.

Much nearer my home is Bolingbroke Castle, home of John of Gaunt and where the future Henry IV (stepbrother of Joan Beaufort mentioned above) was born in 1367. A ruin, by courtesy of Oliver Cromwell, it is still well worth a visit.

I couldn’t leave this quick overview of things close to my home without mentioning aviation. RAF Scampton, home to 617 Squadron, the Dambusters, is still a functioning airbase. Much closer to home are two museums. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Visitor Centre, in the middle of a working airforce base, houses the last flying Lancaster bomber as well as Spitfires, Hurricanes and other notable aircraft. However, there are plans afoot at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre in East Kirkby to get their Lancaster, Baby Jane flying by the end of 2017.

So, although from my window, I can only see the beautiful Lincolnshire countryside, in reality, the wealth of the county’s history is just outside my garden.

Publication date 5th and 10th May:

Laid in Earth cover copyAK1 copy

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