Lincoln's Famous Sons

During our recent trip to Lincoln,  I was pleased to learn that two of my favourite cultural figures had connections with the city.

There is a statue of Alfred, Lord Tennyson in the grounds of Lincoln Cathedral. Tennyson was born in Lincolnshire and when he died, his friend George Frederick Watts started work on a statue to commemorate the Poet Laureate.

Watts was inspired by Tennyson’s poem Flower in the Crannied Wall (published 1869).

Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower—but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.

In the statue Watts depicts the poet with a small flower in his hand, and imagines this is how Tennyson would have looked when composing the poem.

William Byrd is the second famous person connected with Lincoln. Byrd was Master of the Choristers at the cathedral from 1563 to 1572, during which time he composed much music for the relatively newly translated services of the Church of England.

Byrd married a local woman, and his family grew during the time that he lived in Minster Yard. At a time when failing to follow wholeheartedly the practice of the Church of England was seen as a treason, Byrd was stubbornly Catholic and made no attempts to hide it. His wife and other members of his household were arrested several times for recusancy, and later in life Byrd himself was placed under house arrest. However, the appreciation of his musical talent by Queen Elizabeth led to the dropping of any charges "by order of the queen".

As we walked around the Cathedral, we were thrilled to hear William Byrd's music being played for the Sung Eucharist service. It just added to the atmosphere of the Cathedral.