Beaumont Fee, Victoria Terrace

This grid includes Beaumont Fee, Victoria Terrace, the Police Station, Spring Hill and West Parade.

This week we head back to the city centre, to the area around the Police Station, Spring Hill and Motherby Hill.  Here, we ponder the aesthetics of "Ryvita House", recall 80s cop shows, relive Paul's theatrical past, and discover a secret door.

We're also joined by bestselling author Peter Kerr who give us his take on the area, and Dave Milling of Lincolnshire Police who tells us what it's like to work in what some call Lincoln's Ugliest Building.  All this, plus we find out about the history of the area from Jo Hughes and have another round of A Question of Lincoln... click the player below to listen online or subscribe to our iTunes podcast using the button on the right...






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The History of Bb2

by Joanna Hughes of the Lincolnshire Archives

Just a quick walk around the area of this grid square’s enough to give you the impression that the area’s rich in history. Even all the Victorian and Edwardian villas and terraces, along with the relatively modern buildings like West Parade Police Station, can’t detract from the influence of past centuries that you get from the steep winding streets like Beaumont Fee, which bends tightly up the hill and cobbled pathways like Motherby Hill, which, by comparison, ploughs straight up and down the slope, with hardly a bend.

The varied road layout can be explained when you realise that this grid square straddles the western Roman city wall and later the defences of the medieval lower city. The roads and paths we can see actually overlay a much earlier street pattern which influences the roads we see today.  The curvy road of Beaumont Fee possibly follows the boundary of an early settlement within the walls. Roads on an east-west alignment, like West Parade, were probably making straight for the gates in the western city wall. The straight northwest line of Motherby Hill makes sense when you realise you’re walking on the line of the Roman western defences, which continue south to be seen, preserved, under City Hall.

As well as archaeological evidence for centuries of human activity in this area, documentary evidence can tell us about buildings long since gone. One such vanished building is a church with possibly the best dedication I’ve ever come across - St Mary Crackpool. It lay on the south side of our grid square. It may have been connected with the wealthy urban estate of Beaumont Fee and was patronised by the great and the good; it was endowed with three chantries in the 14th century, chapels built in which prayers may be said for the eternal rest of the benefactor’s soul.

Not much else is known about the church but how on EARTH did it get such a great name? Well, like many places along the Lincoln cliff, this church probably sat on a small terrace on the spring line where underground water was forced up to the surface. This may have created a small pool on this cliff side terrace...and the crack element possibly refers to the crows which may have nested in the trees surrounding it. The significance of crows in many of the world’s mythologies shows them as representing the underworld and death (we still count crows, numbers of magpies can predict the future and the fortunes of Britain are safe so long as the Beefeaters at The Tower of London keep the ravens’ wings clipped to stop them flying away...). As well as being populated by these mysterious birds, given the ritualistic significance that pre-Christian people gave to natural water courses such as springs, (and we’re not far from Spring Hill) this may have been a sacred site for centuries before Christianity came to our shores.

Sadly, this already ancient city church was demolished with its merger with St Martin’s parish in 1549 after the Reformation, and its graveyard used as overspill for St Martin’s until, unbelievably, the 1850s. That’s possibly over a thousand years’ worth of burials on this one tiny area in the south of our little grid square.