Inspring edifice precious to our county

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EDITOR – The three tall towers of Lincoln Cathedral are a familiar and beloved sight to many of us in Lincolnshire.

They have a timeless quality and remind us that some things are built to last forever – or at least for centuries – a welcome change in our plastic, throwaway time.

The Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to call it by its formal name, was first founded in 1092, but the building we’re now familiar with was begun by Saint Hugh of Lincoln in the 12th century.

Once topped by beautiful tapering spires, it was probably the tallest building in the world for more than 200 years – from 1300 to around 1550.

John Ruskin, one of those Victorian men of surprising genius, called it “the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles”, adding that it alone was worth any two other cathedrals in the land.

Across from our Parliamentary office in London is Westminster Abbey, made even more famous than it already was by the recent Royal wedding, and the canons there might take issue with Ruskin’s statement.

But a good number of Lincolnshire folk made their way to London last week for a very special service in the Abbey Church. They came all that way to see the Ven Christopher Lawson be ordained a bishop of the Church of England, for the Rev Larson had been chosen to be the next Bishop of Lincoln.

The Diocese of Lincoln once stretched from the Humber all the way down to the Thames in Oxfordshire. Today it covers all of Lincolnshire – that’s Lincolnshire County Council as well as North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire – and is still the largest diocese in the Church of England.

Bishop Lawson, as we should now call him, has not been confined to the ivory tower or the town vicarage: before studying for the Anglican priesthood he paid his bills labouring as a steelworker.

His Grace will be enthroned in Lincoln Cathedral in November, and I’m sure all the people of Lincolnshire will wish him well in his new role.

Another local clergyman has taken time to remind us of less heavenly occurrences. The Ven Tim Barker, the Archdeacon of Lincoln, has told the BBC that there have been over 160 cases of lead roof thefts in Lincolnshire recently, churches being very prominent victims.

Lead stripping is worse than the simple theft of a bicycle or even a computer, because the stripping of roofs usually causes a dozen other concurrent problems.

I know about this myself as someone I know very well has had his cottage stripped of its lead roof by thieves who also carried away the copper boiler, partly flooding the premises and damaging some of our property.

This crime is becoming all the more common thanks to the international financial situation, with the price of scrap metal and other commodities rising higher and higher.

Yet another reminder that we in Lincolnshire are intimately tied with the larger world around us.

EDWARD LEIGH

MP for Gainsborough