Lincoln Cathedral: Cloisters

As I mentioned previously the cloisters in this cathedral are quite small. The interesting and unusual feature is the wooden vault.

Wooden vault
Wooden vault

And the wooden bosses. Of the original one hundred roof bosses, one in each of its bays, there are now just sixty remaining.  These bosses fall into five categories: religious and secular figures, heads, animals and foliage.

An arcaded passageway leads to the chapter house. This has darker columns with carved capitals of foliage set under pointed arches (as in the first image and below).


On the other passage there are some odd stone grotesques hidden next to the foliage – possibly stonemasons’ identification? I haven’t been able to find out much about these, but tongue-pullers are thought to a sign of a journeyman mason as St Blaise, who is the saint associated with diseases of the throat and mouth, is also the patron saint of masons. Hair-pullers like the bearded man, serpents and monsters are most likely there to frighten worshippers and remind them that the world is a sinful place. These over-imaginative human and animal forms often distort the natural into ugliness or a caricature.

The cloisters also provide a quiet space for a rest (and get a phone signal perhaps!)


And the stone carvings are magnificent in their detail. As always you have to look up and pause to admire the beauty of this historic craftsmanship.

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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

24 thoughts on “Lincoln Cathedral: Cloisters”

    1. A place to relax in Jo. I did get rather a nice photo of the cloisters in Durham cathedral, I figured they weren’t bothered about you taking photos out there 😉

      All ready and packed for the adventure?

  1. Where you always score is in your attention to these small details, Jude. You show us things that many others never notice.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

  2. Excellent post, Jude. Very insightful. I love cloisters, the feeling of peace and calmness

    1. Thank you Meg. One cannot fail to admire the finesse and delicacy of stone carvings that have survived all these centuries. Such talent.

  3. It’s amazing that the wood has survived over the years. It must be well tended. I wonder what happened to the 40 missing bosses … ie are the remaining 60 at risk?

    1. I can’t find very much about them at all! Nothing on the cathedral’s own website and the few books that I tracked down are out of print. I’d love to know the meanings of the carvings.

  4. Splendid Jude with lots of lovely details. I’ve never seen wooden bosses in a cathedral. They must have an army of people maintaining the wood and stone, let’s hope no more are lost.

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