Streams of Natural Law Diaries : No. 9 : Lincoln and the River Witham

The latest instalment in our Streams of Natural Law Diaries, is Lincoln, home to one of the four surviving 1215 Magna Cartas, and the River Witham. As we walk beside the water, we discover how the river divides the ancient and modern that stand side by side in this cathedral city.


To launch our film, book and recording of Dreams of Peace & Freedom : The Humans in the Telling and preview forthcoming performances, we are walking streams of natural law in the UK. Visit our multi-media hub at www.thehumansinthetelling.org.

LINCOLN & THE RIVER WITHAM

The strong twin towers of Lincoln Cathedral rise above the surrounding flatlands, making them a visible beacon for miles. For years the home of the best preserved 1215 Magna Carta (though it’s now on display in a special vault in next door Lincoln Castle) the cathedral’s significance in the landscape seems a stone symbol of the high aspirations of the original Great Charter.

A fair framework, fixed
Justice assured, signed and sealed
Balanced towers reaching

A HAIKU BY SUE CASSON

The latest stop on our Streams of Natural Law tour was Lincoln, and a walk along the River Witham. Lincoln is home to one of four surviving original 1215 copies of the Magna Carta and is also the birthplace of Stephen Langton, the Archbishop of Canterbury who played a significant part in its’ creation and final signing.

Arriving over the flat plains of the Fens, the cathedral dominates the landscape. However you approach Lincoln, it always seems like a distant citadel that takes much longer than you might expect to reach. So I was delighted when we drove into the city centre and were able to park at the far end of the high street.

Walking through the bustling shoppers and modern shops, as we made our way towards the ancient cathedral and castle our journey was broken by the River Witham, which runs directly through the city centre.

Just steps down from the buzzing shops, the river runs serenely, flowing gently under High Bridge, the oldest bridge with buildings on in the UK. This style of bridge was common in the Middle Ages including the famous old London Bridge over the Thames but few examples still stand today.

The Witham is enjoyed by canal boats and swans alike, a quiet oasis amongst the hustle and bustle. The timbered buildings reminded me of European cities such as Strasbourg and Nuremberg where the old houses overlook the water, reflecting the architecture back at you.

An imposing gateway marks the boundary between the new and ancient city. We walked through it, up Steep Hill, which is aptly named as it takes a certain amount of puff to get up it (!) We passed beautifully kept cafes and fascinating shops on either side as we made our way to the top.

Close to, the sheer size of the Cathedral was awe-inspiring – it is the fourth largest in the UK. Around it, the cobbled close and surrounding streets have a different atmosphere – it’s almost like stepping back in time. Inside, there is a copy of the Magna Carta which was held for so many years by the cathedral, however the original is now housed in a specially built vault in the Castle where it can be visited across the square. It is one of the best preserved versions of the Great Charter, which in recent years has enabled it to travel to Australia as well as to the United States.

We walked from the Cathedral, over the picturesque square, past a pub taking its name from Magna Carta and through the stone arch into the Castle. From inside the castle walls, an elevated walkway offers stunning panoramic views across the rooftops to the city laid out below.

Then it was time to move on to our next location – come back to read the next instalment of the Stream of Natural Law diaries!

River Witham at Lincoln

Follow our journey as it happens on Instagram @streamsofnaturallaw and share yours with #streamsofnaturallaw.

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