As you drive northwards, the land changes, gradually flattening out into a panorama of low, even plains and marshes extending as far as the coast of the North Sea.
This low-lying fenland countryside, most of it originally marshland, has been laboriously reclaimed by extensive drainage ever since Roman times. Because of its fertile, peaty soil, the entire area is covered with flower fields, bulb plantadons, market gardens and seed nurseries, making it a gardener’s paradise. To the west of the A15, the ground gradually rises to the more rolling countryside of the Lincolnshire Wolds.
From Market beeping the A15 carries on northwards along the western edge of the fens. It passes through Bourne, where you can turn off onto the A 151 to visit the impressive Grimsthorpe Castle, containing fine tapestries, furniture and works of art. The castle stands in spectacular parkland, where red deer roam; note, too, its unusual ornamental vegetable garden.
Gardeners and landscape architects should also note that the same turnoff leads to Spalding, a peaceful Georgian town showing strong Dutch influence in its architecture, which is the main center of Lincolnshire’s flower industry. A world-famous flower festival is held here every spring.
North of Spalding, on the A16, is he old town of Boston, which was a thriving seaport in the 13th century. As the river Welland silted up, however, the coast was pushed farther and farther away from the town, sparking an economic decline, which was temporarily reversed by the building of a new channel and docks in the 1880s. Back in the 17th century, people were tried in the Guildhall for attempting to emigrate to America; those who did make the crossing gave the town’s name to Boston, Massachusetts. The 18th-century Fydell House, containing the Pilgrim College (part of the University of Nottingham), still reserves a special room exclusively for visitors from the town’s American namesake.
Walking around the city, you will see the town’s emblem from a long way off: the Boston Stump, as St. Botolph’s Church is referred to on account of its unfinished-looking, dumpy tower.
Lincoln: Further north on the A15, the city of Lincoln towers above the surrounding fens on a high narrow limestone ridge called the Lincoln Edge. The city itself is dominated by its superb cathedral, which can be seen from many miles away. Founded as Lircdum by the Romans in 48 AD, Lincoln has remained an important strategic, cultural and commercial center for the whole region ever since.
The triple-towered Cathedral of St. Mary is a masterpiece of medieval church architecture. In 1185, the original church was badly damaged in an earthquake; it was rebuilt in the Early Gothic style, integrating such original Romanesque components as were left. As a result, Romanesque ornamentation and Gothic sculpture are juxtaposed on the building’s imposing west facade with its twin towers. The three-aided nave of this pillared basilica, 477 feet (146 m) long, ends in the so-called “Angels’ Choir” (which is also tripartite), named for its 28 sculptures of angels. In this choir, you can easily spot the linear division of the walls, one typical characteristic of the Decorated Style.
The cathedral is surrounded by a maze of steep cobblestone streets, with many historic houses dating from the Middle Ages and subsequent eras, all well preserved and cared for. The 12th-century Jew’s House, said to be the oldest inhabited town house in England, has been converted into a restaurant. Even Roman structures can be seen here and there.
Parts of the old Norman fortress, built by William the Conqueror still survive; among its treasures is one of the original Magna Carta documents. There is a good view from the Observatory Tower.
Antique shops abound in the old city. Other attractions here include the Museum of Lincolnshire Life, the Usher Art Gallery, Ellis’ Mill, and specialist museums exhibiting everything from bicycles to antique toys.