William the Conqueror ordered the first cathedral to be built in Lincoln, in 1072; before that, St. Mary'Cathedral" title ="Cathedral">cathedral. Bishop Remigius built the first Lincoln Cathedral on the present site, finishing it in 1092 and then dying two days before it was to be consecrated on May 9 of that year. About fifty years later, most of that building was destroyed in a fire. Bishop Alexander rebuilt and expanded the cathedral, but it was destroyed by an earthquake about forty years later, in 1185, while there was no bishop. The central tower rises to 271 feet and remains the tallest cathedral tower in Europe today without a spire. There was a lead-encased wooden spire that rose 525 feet, that collapsed in 1549 thanks to weather; it was the first building to ever exceed the height of the Great Pyramid of Giza, thereby becoming the world's tallest structure, and remaining that for more than two centuries, until the collapse of the tower.
King Henry II of England approved the election of Hugh of Avalon, a Carthusian monk and later canonized a saint, as Bishop of Lincoln in 1186, and St. Hugh died in 1200, before his plan for the rebuilding was completed. The western end of the cathedral was always where it is now, but the eastern end (east of the original, now "great" transept) was moved eastward each time the cathedral was enlarged: The eastern wall of the Norman building (1073) was in the middle of what is now St. Hugh's Choir. The eastern end of the Early English building (1186) was in what is now the Angel Choir behind the High Altar. The existing structure was finished by about 1280, but repairs and remodeling have continued, and there have been repeated problems with the spires (removed in 1807) and towers, which were sometimes thought to be in danger of collapsing, this was despite attempts to shore up the towers by digging underneath them to increase support, an early attempt of what is a common engineering project today on such building as the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Among the persons interred in Lincoln Cathedral are:
- St. Hugh of Avalon, in the Angel Choir
- Richard Fleming, (died 1431), Bishop of Lincoln, in the first cadaver tomb ever, in a chantry on the north wall. His moldering corpse is realistically depicted below his effigy (illustration, left)
- Katherine Swynford and her daughter Joan Beaufort, in a chantry on the south side of the sanctuary