Province 15 Provincial Weekend in Lincoln: 23-25 September 2016
Peter and Julie Crowe, along with Karol and Angela Grabowski made up the Mansfield contingent at the recent Provincial Weekend in Lincoln. It is the second time we have visited as a Province and we managed to find new things to do and see which made the weekend really enjoyable. As always, the companionship of Brothers and wives from across the Province made for a really excellent weekend which once again demonstrated the Association at its best.
The weekend began on Friday 23rd September as Brothers and wives gathered throughout the course of the afternoon. Our base was The Lincoln Hotel, up in the old town and very close to both the castle and the cathedral. Many of the early arrivers took the opportunity to go into the city for a little look around and perhaps a little light retail therapy. A good number were quite worn out by the climb back up Steep Hill (yes, that is what it is called, and for very good reason).
Friday evening began with everybody gathering in the main bar area for pre-dinner drinks and the chance to share exploits or make new friends. There was a good spread from most Circles, but the majority were from Hinckley Circle, supporting Provincial President John Cullinan and Heather who are from that Circle. We went in for supper which consisted of a buffet-style meal and some exquisite lemon cheesecake as dessert. As we took coffee, Brother John and Heather distributed a Lincolnshire-based quiz; three sets of papers – one about Lincolnshire-born personalities (modern and historical), one about the county in general and one based on places of significance across Lincolnshire – kept us busy for about three-quarters of an hour. Brother Peter was disappointed that his vast expertise of all things historical only helped him to score in the mid-twenties. After a further round of drinks in the bar, we wended our merry ways to bed, in preparation for a busy Saturday.
Saturday dawned bright and sunny, though a stiff breeze was beginning to take hold as the morning wore on. Following breakfast, groups went off to visit the cathedral and to take part in a guided tour of the important sights therein (see slideshow, below, for some of the highlights described).
We began at the Norman doors and progressed to the font, which is carved from one huge piece of limestone (although it is black because of the high carbon content), then up to the rood screen, with its depictions of various saints, angels and pigs (perhaps something to do with the local sausages?). From there we moved into St Hugh’s chapel, and then to the shrine on which St Hugh’s head was revered for many centuries, leading to a large dip in the flagstones where pilgrims knelt in prayer. Finally the tour ended at the chapel where a new statue of Our Lady was unveiled in 2014 as a tribute to the ecumenical work between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion in Lincoln. Throughout the whole tour we were reminded of the importance attached to the see of Lincoln in terms of both ecclesiastical history and the history of our realm. Our final stop was at the point where the Lincoln Imp can be illuminated by the drop of a coin (Bro. Peter found, to his dismay, that other visitors thought he was a guide and he ended up spending a considerable amount of time relating the story of the imp to various groups, only escaping when a real guide turned up).
On our way round we passed a huge statue. The name on the statue is very familiar to Brothers in our Circle – but none of us guessed that he had a second job of such importance!
After the tour, many of us dispersed to the various coffee shops in the High Street to revitalise ourselves for the afternoon. We gathered outside the cathedral at 1:45pm in preparation for Mass which was to take place in St Hugh’s Chapel, led by Monsignor Tom McGovern, Vicar General, who is parish priest in St Hugh’s parish in Lincoln. We had a really beautiful Mass; credit must be paid to Provincial President for successfully negotiating with the Cathedral Chapter, as a Catholic Mass within the cathedral is a very rare occurrence since the Reformation.
Saturday afternoon was another opportunity for attendees to explore the city; some went to do some shopping; some to investigate the Castle, the museums and galleries; some to the archives to research family history. Everyone gathered once more at the end of the day for a drink before going in to supper where we were mixed up into non-Circle groups to help to further broaden our links across Province.
On Sunday morning, many had prior commitments and had to leave soon after breakfast, but a few managed to find the time to attend Matins in the cathedral. We all departed to our various sectors in Province with happy memories of a great weekend, full of Catenian friendship.
Our sincere thanks go to Brother John and his wife, Heather, for all their hard work over the past year, both in organising such a successful weekend and in promoting it after a busy time when many had been to the Malta conference.