After reading about the accessibility of Lincoln Castle on the excellent website www.lincolncastle.com, and being hooked on history, I decided to put it to a rigorous test in my trusty electrical wheelchair one very windy day in September. There is no car park within the castle boundaries but there are two handy council car parks adjacent to the castle walls (beware – disabled badge holders have to pay but are allowed extra time free of charge). Lincoln town has many cobbled streets but, hey, it has been around since before Roman times and is beautiful so we wheelchair users can put up with some teeth rattling, although in the square between the castle and the cathedral a smooth pathway has been very thoughtfully provided across the cobbles. After paying for our tickets (carers go free) in the tempting shop and after studying the thought provoking “time machine”, we had a meal in the cafe which is spacious and has wheelchair friendly tables. I was very impressed by the obvious thought which has gone into making such an ancient building disabled friendly. I never believed that one day I would be able to drive my wheelchair along the top of a castle wall but with the provision of a lift and the widening of the pathway via steel walk
ways, that is exactly what I found myself doing! Albeit, I could not traverse the whole wall but it was the best bit with spectacular views of the cathedral and ancient town. Most of the Victorian prison is accessible including many cells but careful driving is needed as the prison authorities weren’t known for providing spacious containment! The prison chapel is not accessible but a balcony overlooking the room is accessed via yet another lift, although my only criticism was that no information panels were provided on the balcony as they were in the chapel itself. The wondrous Magna Carta (actually three documents) is housed in an up to date vault, which is reached via a steel bridge and lift. The lift stops at three floors which includes a short information film. In all I counted four lifts throughout the castle (one was a platform lift) which is amazing for a building built in 1068 and the castle authorities deserve much praise. All well worth the £22m restoration. I urge everyone, not just disabled people to visit Lincoln Castle but if you are disabled you can look forward to an exciting day and do something adventurous – not just a visit to the shop/cafe/toilet as some tourist attractions seem only to offer those less mobile!
Esther Collington, Kirk Hallam