When William the Conqueror came to Lincoln he found a thriving commercial and trading centre with a population of between 6,000 to 8,000 people. The remains of the old Roman walled fortress located on top of the 60 metres (200 ft) high escarpment was an ideal strategic position to construct a new castle as it commanded a vital strategic crossroads and work was completed in 1068. Twenty years later, in 1088 work was started on Lincoln Cathedral.
Since that time the castle and the cathedral have been the seat of temporal and spiritual authority and the focus of attention, but the commercial centre of Lincoln continued ‘below the hill’ around St Mary le Wigford. Further south along the High Street, the Roman ‘Ermine Street’, is St Mary’s Guildhall, a domestic complex on a palatial scale, indicating the highest social status, and as such is representative of a little known urban building type and is now believed to have been built as a Royal palace of Henry II and completed by 1157.
To the South is St Peter at Gowts (right 1784 engraving) with another Saxon Tower and on South Common is the Priory Centre housed in the fully restored Wesleyan Church of St. Katherine, an outstanding, Grade 11 listed, 19th century building that stands on the site of the Gilbertine Priory of St. Katherine, founded in 1148.
In 2015 we began to develop a Heritage Trail running south from the Stonebow at the City Centre, through this southern suburb traditionally known as ‘Wigford’ with its history of grand residences and commercial activity.
It is in this part of Lincoln that the first tanks were made and tested and vast numbers of aircraft were made in the First World War.
St Mary le Wigford is working with the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, the University of Lincoln, the City and County Councils and many other partners to uncover the rich history of Wigford not only to open it up to tourists, but to provide a base for community cohesion in Park Ward.
We welcome anyone who wishes to join us in creating and developing this trail and there are opportunities for anyone interested with training in heritage maintenance, hospitality, being a Guide, archaeology and many other subjects.
You will find more on our website http://www.bricksandbones.org.uk/