A 950 years old Cathedral – with a Vision

It was once the world’s tallest building, has become Hollywood’s go-to ‘Westminster Abbey’, and been described as the “most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles” – and this year it marks its 950th birthday with stunning floral displays.

Regarded as one of Europe’s finest gothic buildings Lincoln Cathedral sits high on a hill above the heritage city and has dominated the skyline for almost a millennium.

Reaching its 950th year, the Cathedral now offers visitors more ways than ever to explore its rich history at a new visitor centre showcasing some of its many treasures, which opened earlier this year, joining a new café and shop that opened in 2021.

And this summer, stunning floral displays will blossom in every part of the building in honour of its milestone anniversary and the visionaries who helped build the Cathedral, as well as those who have helped shape our lives since.

Covering poetry, theatre, film, and fashion, alongside history, exploration, and invention, the Lincoln Cathedral Flower Festival (4-8 August 2022) will feature everything from the Mayflower Pilgrims’ journey to the New World to the moon landing and even Harry Potter.

Showcasing the art of flower arranging set against the backdrop of the magnificent stone building, ‘Vision’ aims to bring the Cathedral to life in an inspiring way and especially pay tribute to the life and works of St Hugh of Lincoln, regarded as the greatest medieval Bishop of Lincoln.

Construction on the Cathedral, which was once described by Victorian writer John Ruskin as “out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles and roughly speaking worth any two other cathedrals we have”, began in 1072 when William the Conqueror commissioned the first Bishop of Lincoln to lay the foundations.

It was consecrated on 9 May 1092, when Lincoln was the largest diocese in England, extending from the Humber to the Thames, but an earthquake in 1185 partially destroyed it, heralding its transformation into one of the world’s great buildings.

It was then that Hugh of Avalon oversaw the building of a new Gothic-style cathedral using such state-of-the-art architectural features as flying buttresses, ribbed vaults and pointed arches.

And thanks to its central spire, which was completed in 1311, it became the tallest building in the world – beating then record holder, the Great Pyramid of Giza – and remained so for more than 200 years before the tower collapsed in a storm.

Today visitors can discover more about the building and its history at the new visitor centre, as well as join Floor Tours throughout the year covering topics ranging from architecture to stained-glass. The Cathedral has many hidden gems too, including the spectacular Wren Library, above the cathedral cloisters, designed by Sir Christopher Wren and filled with precious 15th century books.

TV and movie fans might also spot a location or two, with the Cathedral often doubling as Westminster Abbey. Hollywood A-lister Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard filmed scenes for the Da Vinci Code in 2005, while Emily Blunt was at the Cathedral to be crowned Queen Victoria for her movie, The Young Victoria, in 2007.

In its latest starring role, the Cathedral will apparently portray another stunning architectural gem, Notre Dame in Paris. In March 2022, Oscar-winning actor Joaquin Phoenix and director Ridley Scott filmed scenes for Napoleon Bonaparte biopic, Napoleon, expected to be released next year on streaming service Apple TV+.

Tickets for the Flower Festival are now on sale and cost £15 adults, under 16s free.

For more information, visit https://lincolncathedral.com

For details about visiting, and staying in, Lincolnshire, see www.visitlincolnshire.com