Lincoln: Magna Carta, charming shops and Gothic cathedrals

Wander the charmingly named Steep Hill, breathe in the magnificent Gothic cathedral. With Medieval streets brimming with history and captivating shops and cafes – expect to be charmed. 

2015 is the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta being sealed and Lincoln has one of only four remaining copies. 

Here’s our guide to some of the best places for sightseeing, eating, drinking and shopping in Lincoln… 

Things to see and do in Lincoln

Magna Carta is one of history’s most important documents. And Lincoln Castle has one of only four remaining copies.

What’s Magna Carta we hear you say?! Issued by King John in 1215, it laid down the rule that everyone – including royalty – was subject to the law.

Fast forward to 2015 and it’s the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta being signed. And you’ll be able to see Lincoln’s copy (one of only 4 left remaining), in a new visitor centre built as part of the anniversary celebrations. Lincoln Castle Magna Carta Experience opened in April, where you can see the ancient document beside its sister legislation the Charter of The Forest, and watch films about the Magna Carta on a vast curved, overhead screen.

To help you get to Lincoln in style, we’ve laid on an additional return service on selected Saturdays from King’s Cross also calling at Peterborough and Newark, which are perfectly times for a fantastic family day out! These services leave King’s Cross at 09:10am, arriving into Lincoln at 11:02 then depart at 17:15 getting you back to London for 19:11. You can catch one of these on 13 June, 25 July, 8 and 29 August and 24 and 31 October.

About Magna Carta

Kings and queens were for centuries above the law. Until Magna Carta put paid to that. Magna Carta ruled that everyone – including royalty – was subject to the law.

It’s pretty important. In fact, it’s seen as the cornerstone of modern democracy.  

And you can see 1 of only 4 surviving copies at Lincoln Castle. 

It’s 800 years old, so is very fragile. It lives inside a special vault at a new visitor centre built as part of the 800th anniversary celebrations.

Get a crash course in Magna Carta history (if you’ve forgotten it from school history lessons) at the Lincoln Castle Magna Carta Experience.

2 fun Magna Carta facts:

1)    The original Magna Carta was only valid for 10 weeks

2)    It was sealed by King John, not signed. 

Lincoln Cathedral is wow, just wow. Super tall, super detailed, super Gothic and super old – dating back to the 11th century.

Art critic and philanthropist John Ruskin said the ‘cathedral of Lincoln is out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles’.

And who are we to argue?

As well as being magnificent to look at it’s also pretty talented, starring in the Da Vinci Code alongside bona fide superstar Tom Hanks.

Don’t miss:

  • The peregrine falcons: These vast birds of prey watch over the cathedral each summer, and they certainly mean business – just watch them fly… 

Ahoy, there – relax and drift downstream on a boat trip on the Roman Fosse Dyke Canal. The guide will give you some juicy gossip about the city’s illustrious past – and maybe tell you the odd joke (if you’re lucky).

All aboard the Brayford Belle!

Feeling hungry? Where to eat

An intimate dinner: Sharing a fresh seafood platter at a candlelit table on board a boat, with historic Lincoln twinkling in the distance? You’re beyond smooth. Find this at the Barge on the Brayford – try the Mediterranean king prawns sautéed in butter and garlic, served with chilled Chablis. They’ll have had worse dates.

A light lunch: Find sandwiches as big and satisfying as climbing up Lincoln’s famous Steep Hill at Bunty’s Tea Room. A triple-decker buttie stuffed with Lincolnshire sausages and smoked bacon is your mission. Do you choose to accept it? Don’t worry, we won’t laugh if you can’t finish it.  

International: Trick yourself and your other half that you’re on holiday on the Costa del Sol at this buzzing tapas restaurant. Ole Ole brings authentic Spanish food to Lincoln. Tuck into a paella on the outdoor terrace and you’ll feel like you’re on the Med – until it starts to rain, that is.

Street food: Lincolnshire has serious kudos when it comes to locally sourced grub. Farmers’ markets take place regularly in the city. Sample locally sourced meats, breads, fruit and veg and the world-famous Lincolnshire sausage. It’s packed with coarsely ground pork and flavoured with sage. A couple of those in a white bap = food heaven.  

Retail therapy - where to shop

High-street heaven 
High Street
: You’ll find all your faves along the long, bustling High Street. House of Fraser, M&S, Dorothy Perkins and Fat Face are among the many stores. Just off High Street is the Waterside Shopping Centre for Next, Topshop, Office and The Body Shop.

Vintage, independents and homewares 
: Loved by locals for its kooky ‘little village’ atmosphere and charming cobbled streets, this historic area of Lincoln’s Cathedral Quarter is lined with gift shops, artisan food stores and trendy boutiques.
1 shop to check out:

  • Object & Line: From eco-friendly reusable coffee cups to Scandinavian coasters, Taiwanese clocks and giant floor jigsaws, this shop is a smorgasbord of contemporary design from around the world.

Label lovers - designer shopping

Coneys: Style-savvy blokes will find plenty to keep them busy here. Armani, Hilfiger and Diesel are among the labels vying for your hard-earned cash – whether for yourself or a pressie for your man friend.

Agatha: You can’t argue with Vogue. It once voted Agatha among Britain’s best boutiques. It’s a real gem of a shop – an Aladdin’s Cave of A-list friendly labels. From Vivienne Westwood to Paul Smith, it’s awash with premium designer brands, and you’ll always receive 5-star treatment.

Hidden Lincoln

Here are 2 places in Lincoln you might not be aware of…

Ellis Mill: Ever wondered how your bread is made? Find out how grain is turned into flour at Ellis Mill - the only working windmill left in Lincoln. Built in 1798, it still grinds out flour – provided there’s enough wind to turn the sails.

The Strugglers Inn: Adored by locals – they lobbied for it to be considered important to the community’s social wellbeing. Just a stone’s throw from the castle, the pub dates back to the 1800s. Breathe in the history, sip a perfectly pulled pint or real ale and relax.

Enjoy your trip to Lincoln.