So much has been said on the subject, at various times, and in various forms that I may seem adventurous in presenting myself before you with a paper on the Architectural History of Lincoln Minster. I should not do so, however, unless I hoped to throw some new or at least clearer light on part, at least, of the subject.
With these words George Poole commenced his paper to the Lincoln Diocesan Architectural Society in May 1857. He expressed a hope that has been repeated throughout the intervening years in a flow of papers attempting to explain a work of quite astonishing individuality, spacial invention and surface richness. A work that does not slot into the neat progression of stylistic development which, as Peter Kidson has recently pointed out, is ‘an intolerable state of affairs of tidy-minded art historians’. For this reason, perhaps, the pressure of cultural attitudes upon successive authors is noticeable. Not only has it coloured their understanding of the building’s history, but no doubt it also colours our own, and weights our judgement. This review, therefore, is firstly a study of approach, and secondly a statement of current thinking.