This edited article about Lincolnshire originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 712 published on 6 September 1975.
Lincolnshire is the second largest county in England, Yorkshire being the largest. At first glance, it may appear to be flat and monotonous, but appearances are deceptive. Admittedly, Lincolnshire can boast of no heights taller than 550 feet (166 metres), but it compensates for its lack of height by its infinite variety.
Certainly, Alfred, Lord Tennyson did not find any lack of inspiration and some of his memorable and moving lines owed their being to the countryside where he was born at Somersby.
One of his favourite spots was at Gibraltar Point where he delighted to watch the merging and blending of the landscape with the ever-present waters and fenland.
Lincolnshire has been compared with another county across the English Channel – Holland. The comparison is apt in many ways because both places have to fight a constant battle against the inroads of the North Sea. In point of fact, one area of Lincolnshire in the Fenlands is called Holland.
In some places, the precious land has to be protected from the ravages of the sea by embankments, some of which were started by the Romans who also mounted an ambitious enterprise to drain the Fens. Of late, some areas close to the Wash have been reclaimed, another similarity to Holland.
Between the Marsh and the Fen, a land of narrow dykes and pools which stretches along the sea coast, the North Sea is constantly breaking in. But although this area is brackish with salt and sand, the inhabitants have managed to produce rich cornland and bulbs for flowers in a similar way to the Dutch. Truly, a case of “making the wilderness blossom like the rose.”
To appreciate the county at its finest, one must have a vantage point. West Keal and Asgarby in the southern Wolds are ideal for this purpose, affording views over the Fens to Boston and beyond.
This is a good opportunity to bring in Boston, because of its famed stump. The tower stands out like a tall finger across the Lincoln landscape. This “stump” is a landmark for seafarers coming in from the Wash and is supposed to be visible for a distance of 40 miles (64 km). But this has never been verified and could easily qualify as just another traveller’s tale.
The city of Lincoln has been there since early Roman times and portion of the Roman walls still stand.
This year is the 900th anniversary of the founding of this famous city. The cathedral is one of the most magnificent and imposing in England. The majority of the present edifice was erected between 1200 and 1500. Also well worth a visit is Lincoln castle which was built by the Normans. Also of interest is a 16th century Custom House.
Another ancient town is Grantham over which dominates the mediaeval spire. John Ruskin, the famous Victorian writer, records how he stood spellbound at his first sight of this splendid spire which was built between 1280 and 1300.
In olden times, Lincolnshire was part of the kingdom of Mercia until the Danes (the dreaded Northmen) began their series of invasions. The feared and hated invaders more or less took over the whole county and it became part of the Danelaw in 886.
The Danish influence lingers on in the shape of “-by” and “-thorpe” endings which are especially prominent in village names.
North of Boston is Skegness which is to Lincolnshire what Blackpool is to Manchester. Many famous comedians come here in the holiday season when the population of the town swells far above its normal 100,000 people.
And yet only a few miles away, from the bustling throngs, there is peace and serenity to be found. Between Gibraltar Point and Theddlethorpe, are nature reserves with some of the rarest kind of flora and fauna in Britain. These areas are also a paradise for bird watchers.
But above all, Lincolnshire is a county of spires. It seems almost as if Lincolnshire folk were impelled to put up these tall towers to act as some kind of landmark.
Some of the most beautiful and graceful spring from the heart of the Fens district, although other fine specimens can be found in the Wolds and what is called the Stone Belt.
The best-known are at Spalding, Heckington, Fleet, Louth, Thurlby and Threekingham.
The roads in this county are well maintained and repaired and what is more, even at peak holiday times, comparatively deserted. It is possible to keep away from the main traffic arteries and potter happily along the lanes and byways of this pleasant county without ever once having to form a queue.
There are unexpected surprises to be found around every corner, whether it takes the shape of an unusual church tucked away from the hubbub of everyday life or it might be coming unexpectedly across a stately home of which Lincolnshire has its fair share.
An unusual county is Lincolnshire with many unusual features and some unique ones. It appears able to adapt, perhaps a little more than other counties. Modern innovations such as pylons, wires and tractors, seem to merge into this landscape without detracting from its beauty.
Truly, Lincolnshire can be described as a county of contrast.
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