Castle Blog

Castle Blog


Lincoln Castle - A place where kings have walked

Queen bowing to a medieval king

In honour of the Coronation of His Majesty The King we're looking at the connections Lincoln Castle has had with royalty over the past 1000 years.

Lincoln Castle was built almost 1000 years ago by William the Conqueror. After William's victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, he faced continuing resistance and ordered the construction of a castle at Lincoln in 1068 as part of his strategy to control the rebellious north of the kingdom.

In 1141, while King Stephen was occupied in a war with his cousin Matilda over the English crown, he fought to wrest back control of the castle after it had been claimed by Ranulf, earl of Chester. During the battle, which came to be known as the 'Joust of Lincoln', Stephen was captured outside the castle and taken to Matilda as a prize and imprisoned. Only when Matilda’s half-brother was captured seven months later, and exchanged for Stephen, was the king restored to the throne.

When the castle's archaeologists sifted through a medieval rubbish pit, they found the possible leftovers from a feast held for King Henry II in the 1100’s. Bones from animals and fish included conger eels, turbot, crab, lark, marsh harrier, venison and swan.

King John failed to observe the terms of Magna Carta which had been agreed at Runnymede in 1215. This led to open revolt by the barons who occupied Lincoln and invited Louis, Dauphin of France, (later King Louis VIII) to take the crown of England.

John marched to Lincoln and imposed a fine of £1,000 on its citizens for supporting the rebels.  The Constable of the Castle, Nichola de la Haye, who had succeeded her husband Gerard and had refused to surrender the Castle to the barons, met John outside the East Gate and offered him the Castle keys saying that she was too old to continue in office; John persuaded her to carry on.

King Henry VIII visited Lincoln Castle with his fifth wife Catherine Howard in August 1541. The young queen was rumoured to be having an illicit affair with Thomas Culpepper. Seven months later she was executed for adultery and treason.

On the 8th of June 2015 HRH Princess Anne officially opened the redeveloped Lincoln Castle. The project involved the restoration of the castle's curtain wall and creation of a new 360 degree Medieval Wall Walk atop the castle's ancient ramparts, restoration and re-interpretation of the Victorian Prison, and the building of a new vault to house Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest

This blog was last updated 10 May 2023