Reflections: Jackie Croft – What an amazing year, and more to come

As the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta draws to its end it seems appropriate to look back on the year’s highlights and also to share some of the plans we have to build on that success.

In February 2015 Lincoln Cathedral’s 1215 Magna Carta, one of only four surviving copies, returned from its tour of the United States having been seen by over 220,000 people.

Its first stop was the British Library where it was united with the other three copies for the first time in 800 years.

Magna Carta returned to Lincoln and came to rest in its purpose built David P J Ross Magna Carta vault in the newly refurbished castle for all to see from April 1. The cathedral and castle now offer a joint ticket for visitors that is very popular and is a great example of partnership working that will continue into 2016.

With so many fantastic events it is difficult to single any out but I will remember the magnificent Magna Carta Dinner in the Nave for a long time. 800 people seated in this breathtaking space for a black tie event was quite extraordinary.

I will also remember Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, giving a lecture in the cathedral and being very open about what might happen with interest rates.

And then there was ‘the buzz’ that was Jesus Christ Superstar. The sheer hard work, enthusiasm and passion of the volunteer cast and crew, coupled with the professionalism of its volunteer director and producers, was a winning combination.

By popular demand, we are bringing the show back in August 2016. Tickets will go on sale, through the website only, on February 14, 2016.

A buzz of a different kind was created by the Barons’ Trail and, although the cathedral was not directly involved, it was really wonderful to see so many people, young and old, engage with the trail come rain or shine.

In April, the cathedral was delighted to host the Spark Engineering Festival showcasing the engineering heritage and future of Lincolnshire. Companies, colleges, universities and organisations from across the county exhibited in the cathedral, itself a remarkable feat of engineering. It was great success and we look forward to doing this one again in 2017!

In May 2015 we were delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund earmarked £12.4m funding to bring life to “Lincoln Cathedral Connected”. This project will provide a state of the art, accessible visitor centre; undertake essential conservation works; open up the Deans Green (not see for over 50years) for public use and provide unique opportunities for volunteers and community engagement.

We already provide many opportunities for apprenticeships in heritage skills and we will be able to do more, which is fantastic. The investment in the cathedral also means that we can do “our bit” to help Lincoln become more known as a weekend destination for visitors with the consequent benefits that brings to the local economy. Although we will not break ground until 2017 much of 2016 will be taken up in detailed planning; very exciting!

All the events we hold are wonderful to do but the primary purpose of the cathedral is the daily round of prayer and worship offered to all-comers.

Few other buildings that are over 900 years old can claim that they are still used for their original purpose and I think this is perhaps the greatest achievement of all.

I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to making 2015 such a special year in the cathedral and hope that you continue to support the work done in this fine cathedral.

For now though, I wish you and those you love and care for a very Happy New Year.


Jackie Croft is the Chapter Clerk and Administrator at Lincoln Cathedral.