Front Quad of Lincoln College, the walls covered in bright green ivy


Building ambition: grand designs for Lincoln College

Headshot of Sarah Cusk, a woman in a black shirt with books in the background

Dr Sarah Cusk

  • Antiquarian Cataloguer
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On Thursday, April 29 Lincoln Unlocked had the great pleasure of welcoming three speakers from the Lincoln community to talk about their research into Lincoln’s buildings, talks that ranged from the foundation of a new College in the 15th century to the building of the Chapel and Chapel Quad in the 17th century, and 19th and 20th century plans to expand to meet the needs of a growing community.

Dr Louise Durning began the evening by examining the first founding document of the College, the royal Letters Patent issued to Bishop Fleming in 1427, moving on to plot the gradual piecing together of the College site in the 1430s. It was fascinating to learn that without the decisive intervention of Dean John Forrest of Wells Cathedral, who paid for the building of the greater part of Front Quad following the sudden death of Bishop Fleming, Lincoln would look very different from the 18th century engraving, illustrated here, that has become so familiar.

Mark Kirby’s talk started with something of a mystery, 'the mysterious case of the disappearing archive'. Dr Kirby (Child-Shuffrey Research Fellow in Architectural History) is currently working on a history of Lincoln’s Chapel and revealed some of the detective work that has been necessary since crucial evidence, the Bursar’s Accounts for the years 1629-1631, is missing. Mark explained that other college chapels from the period can tell us a lot about Lincoln’s, not just by examining their more detailed accounts but by comparing styles of decoration to identify craftsmen working in Oxford at the time.

While the Bursar’s Accounts for these years are missing, the Archive is rich in evidence about later building projects and Lindsay McCormack, College Archivist, unveiled some that never made it past the drawing board. There was a palpable sense of sadness, even over Zoom, that the Bridge of Sighs over Turl Street was never realised and some relief, at least among Library staff, that plans to expand the Library (at that point in what is now the Senior Common Room) into the empty gallery space over College Hall were quite literally shelved.

With over 100 attendees, this was Lincoln’s most popular online event to date. The lively question-and-answer session that followed showed how much everyone had enjoyed the evening. We all particularly enjoyed hearing Lincoln alumni share their memories of the College. With many thanks to our speakers, and of course to Dr Perry Gauci for hosting the evening so elegantly.

Where next?

  • Learn more about Lincoln UnlockedRead more
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  • Find out more about the College buildingsRead more