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The undiscovered truth about a newly found photo of Lincoln Castle
By Dr ​Erik Grigg

At a recent family event one of our staff was talking about a picture of his relatives from the 1930s and it was decided to remove it from the frame to scan it. Behind the picture was found some very worn prints one of which showed the Stonebow and the other Lincoln Castle. A photo was taken of the print and I was tasked in finding out more! I have seen lots of Victorian engravings showing views of the Castle, but this one was new to me and to everyone I showed it to. It showed the Castle from the south, from Drury Lane, but with no date on it when was it made?

I have seen lots of Victorian engravings showing views of the Castle, but this one was new to me and to everyone I showed it to.

I walked down Drury Lane and found the point where the artists must have made their sketch; it was just where Drury Lane meets Spring Hill. The picture has the name of the publisher, C. Askill, on it and he was in business in Lincoln in the 1880s when he produced a sketchbook of the Cathedral and adjoining areas. However, that did not mean the picture dated to the 1880s, in fact the lack of houses in Drury Lane suggested it was older. We know the Observatory Tower, the tower on the right, was modified in 1815 and given crenulations and around that time (or possibly in the early 1820s according to other sources) the smaller turret was added on top, possibly so the governor could watch the stars. The Lucy Tower, the keep on the left, was refaced in the 1830s and the southern door unblocked in 1837, also a room on the east side of the keep was removed around that time, which means the engraving probably post-dates these changes. In 1840 some of the crenulations on the Observatory Tower were removed to make it look more like a romantic ruin and some other changes were made which might explain (if the engraving predates these changes) why the left side of the Observatory Tower looks a little different to it does today. So perhaps it was made sometime between 1837 and 1840, but plans I have of the area made in 1812-17 show houses in the north side of Drury Lane …. Who knows? I will do more digging. It is entirely possible the artists made some sketches in the field before returning to their studio to finish the picture and drew a foreground that didn't actually match the situation on the ground!