Writing Medieval Lincoln – the Bishops’ Palace

The porch into the West Hall, added in the 13th century

I don’t get to travel across the Atlantic as often as I would like, so I am revisiting Lincoln today through this post. I could close my eyes to wander medieval Lincoln in my mind’s eye, but it would be hard to type!

I had written about Lincoln Castle and Lincoln Cathedral in previous posts and related how important it was for me to know the state of these magnificent buildings in the 1190s. My knight, Sir Stephan, has one scene – yes, one! – in For King and Country set at the Castle, but that didn’t matter. (It also happens to be one of my favorite scenes in Book II.) Now that I’m writing Book III, Swords of the King, I want to know more about the Bishops’ Palace. Stephan’s lover, Lord Henry de Grey, is on his way to Lincoln as I write this post. The year is 1196.

Henry visited the Cathedral numerous times as a boy before an earthquake left it in ruins in 1185. He remembers the Bishops’ Palace – construction on it dates back to the mid-12th century during the reign of Henry II. The palace, which sits just outside the Cathedral close, wouldn’t have been quite so extensive as the picture above left. That represents additional building in the 13th – 16th centuries.

However, even before the earthquake the Palace was recognized as one of the grandest bishops’ palaces in England. The quake might have caused significant damage to it because Hugh of Avalon, appointed Bishop of Lincoln in 1186, had two major rebuilding projects until his death in 1200. He oversaw the work on the Cathedral and undertook a total rebuilding of the Palace.

Reconstruction of the Cathedral got underway by 1192 – Bishop Hugh had been busy raising funds for the project. But what work would have been completed on the Palace by 1196 when Henry visits? What of the grand kitchen? Or the West Hall? Records appear to indicate that the kitchen, with five huge fireplaces, was completed before Hugh’s death. The West Hall, begun under Hugh, was completed by his successor.

The Alnwick Tower from ‘inside’ the Palace’s West Hall with Lincoln Cathedral in the background

Did the Alnwick Tower exist in the 12th century? Nope. Can’t mention that as something Henry would have seen as it was not added until the 14th century.

a room off the East Hall

Rooms off and beneath the East Hall and chapel existed before the earthquake. Henry might have seen the upper part of the hall as a boy, where business would have been conducted. By the time of Bishop Hugh’s death in 1200, the East Hall range had been rebuilt.

Bishop Hugh made a couple of appearances in For King and Country. He is a friend of the de Grey family so Henry will be visiting with him in Book III and perhaps share a meal in the East Hall.

Medieval Bishops’ Palace, Lincoln, edited by Lorimer Poultney. London: English Heritage, 2002, rev. 2013.

Image credits

All photos are the author’s own, and are licensed for re-use under CC BY-SA. See all my photos of the Medieval Bishops’ Palace on my FLICKR page.


Charlene Newcomb is currently working on Book III of her Battle Scars series, 12th century historical fiction filled with war, political intrigue, and a knightly romance of forbidden love set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. There will be more to come, so sign up for Char’s  Newsletter. It will be used – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and and to let you be the first to know about special offers.

Visiting with author Helena Schrader about my novel For King and Country

5fd8e47ed036ac5eb5bd484b32302357-1-2 Join me on Helena Schrader’s blog today as we talk about For King and Country. I “met” Helena virtually when Battle Scars I, Men of the Cross, was published and Helena was writing her trilogy on Balian d’Ibelin covering the years prior to the Third Crusade. Our common interests in that time period led to conversation and interviews, so I am delighted to continue that tradition and thank Helena for inviting me back to her blog. I hope you will enjoy the Q&A!


For King and Country is a B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree and has been selected as a Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choice. It is currently available on Amazon in ebook and print formats.

B.R.A.G. Medallion awarded to For King and Country

5fd8e47ed036ac5eb5bd484b32302357-1-2Thank you, indieBRAG! I am thrilled For King and Country has been awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion.

B.R.A.G. is the Book Readers Appreciation Group. Indie-published books are put through a tough review process. As indieBRAG notes on their website:

This entails an initial screening to ensure that the author’s work meets certain minimum standards of quality and content…  If it passes this preliminary assessment, it is then read by a selected group of members drawn from our global reader team. In both the initial screening phase and, if appropriate, the subsequent group evaluation phase, each book is judged against a comprehensive list of relevant literary criteria.

Indie authors need your support. If you are looking for a good read amongst the 100,000+ titles debuting on Amazon each month, check out those that have been vetted through indieBRAG’s review process. Leave a review on Amazon; rate books on Goodreads. This can help others discover a new author.

Check out all the honorees (by genre).
 I bet you might find a new book and a new author to love. And while you’re there, go find For King and Country and Men of the Cross in the Historical Fiction section. Order through the Amazon link on indieBrag to help indieBRAG get credit for the sale.


Charlene Newcomb is the author of the Battle Scars series, 12th century historical adventures set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. There will be more to come, so sign up for Char’s Mailing List. It will be used – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and and to let you be the first to know about special offers.

my humble abode in York…

I’ll be staying at St. Anne’s College at Oxford soon. It will be fun to compare accommodations from my stay in York 5 years ago.

A Librarian's Life

My friends and I loved the annual Parade of Homes back in Orlando, Florida. We’d trek across 2 or 3 counties to explore places we’d never call home in a million years (not without a few million in our bank accounts). It was fun to dream…

I remember one of those multi-million dollar mansions. The master bedroom was over 1,000 sq.ft. and separated from the master bath by a see-through fireplace. It was gorgeous. But all I could think was man, I’d hate to have to clean this place, and whoa, can you imagine the electric bills? (Yes, I realize that I would probably have maid service if I lived the lifestyle of the rich & famous.) You could get lost in a house that big. It could never be called cozy.

But ah… the dorm room. Does anyone ever think of a dorm room as intimate? Isn’t…

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Special sale – For King and Country

July 6 – 8 

Get For King and Country for $2.99/£1.99 (ebook)

See what the reviewers are saying:

“The history is sharp, the action appropriately bloody, the passion undeniable.”
Christopher Monk (aka researcher/consultant and The Anglo-Saxon Monk)

“With a blistering siege scene, daring escapes and a truly dastardly villain there is something for everyone here.”
thurinius (aka author LJ Trafford)

“The anguish, the joys, the sorrows, leap from the page…”
Paul Bennett, Historical Fiction Reviews

“Beautifully written, chock-full of historical details imparted elegantly throughout, For King and Country is a compelling and wonderful read.”
–author Anna Belfrage, Historical Novel Society Indie Award winner 2015 

With reviews like these, can you go wrong?

Get For King and Country now! 


Charlene Newcomb is the author of the Battle Scars series, 12th century historical adventures set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. For King and Country, book II of the series, was published on 2 May 2016. There will be more to come, so sign up for Char’s Mailing List. It will be used – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and and to let you be the first to know about special offers.

Talking about the book: Days of Sun & Glory by Anna Belfrage

Days of Sunlit Glory_eb-pb-tr 160412

Title: Days of Sun & Glory
Author:  Anna Belfrage

A tidbit about the author
Born in Sweden, raised in Peru & Colombia. Anna notes that where her classmates in Bogota “were constantly talking about the future (or football, at which I excelled) I was mostly dreaming about the past. I had no desire to become a business woman – I wanted to be a medieval knight.” Obviously, Anna cannot be a medieval knight, but man, oh man, can she write brilliantly about them!

The story
“…the king’s greatest traitor, Roger Mortimer, has managed to evade royal justice, the king and his beloved Despenser see dissidents and rebels everywhere – among Mortimer’s former men, but also in the queen, Isabella of France. Their suspicions are not unfounded. Tired of being relegated to the background by the king’s grasping favourite, Isabella has decided it is time to act – to safeguard her own position, but also that of her son, Edward of Windsor. As Adam de Guirande has pledged himself to Prince Edward he is automatically drawn into the queen’s plans – whether he likes it or not. Yet again, Kit and Adam are forced to take part in a complicated game of intrigue and politics…”–from the author’s website

Days of Sun & Glory is Book II in Ms. Belfrage’s The King’s Greatest Enemy series and pulls us back into the life of Sir Adam and his wife Kit. Concerned that you haven’t read Book I? Don’t be. This book works fine as a stand-alone. And I say that as someone who is barely familiar with this particular time period.

The scene that made you laugh out loud or cheer; the place where you wanted to throw the book across the room
Usually these are two separate questions, but I have combined them here. I was torn between laughter and groans watching the jealous reactions of both Kit and Adam, the two main characters. In this sequel to In the Shadow of the Storm, they have been married more than two years and have been to hell and back for each other. Their devotion to and love for each other is so vivid and well drawn. The bits of jealousy had me getting impatient with them both after a while.

My cheers are too numerous to count, but I absolutely love Ms. Belfrage’s portrayal of young Prince Edward. In this particular scene he is standing up to his father as Edward II tries to throw Adam out:

“I cannot have a man suspected of traitorous activities in your household.” [Edward] gestured at the men-at-arms “Take de Guirande away.”
“You’re shaming me,” Prince Edward said.
“Shaming you?” The king looked at Adam, then at his son.
“Sir Adam is my liegeman. He has pledged himself to me, and I, in return, have pledged to protect him – isn’t that what liege lords do?” The prince turned wide eyes on his father.

A memorable line (or two)

Kit on Hugh Despenser…

…Kit would gladly have nailed his intestines to a tree and have him walk around it until he’d disembowelled himself, she had to admit the man exuded  some sort of magnetic allure, his sharp features enhanced by the neatly trimmed beard that clung to his cheeks and chin, his eyes glittering under dark, straight brows.

Oh, Anna, you have such a way with words!

Kenilworth was like a dog with fleas, always  itching, always restless.

…the autumn wind painted roses on her cheeks.

My verdict – ****4.5 stars****
Book II of Ms. Belfrage’s series The King’s Greatest Enemy, is well researched with plenty of historical details that will transport the reader to the 14th century. Ms. Belfrage makes her characters come to life, and if you aren’t cringing with fear every time Hugh Despenser comes on scene, why not?! Evil radiates from that man.

This is a turbulent era in England’s history and even readers unfamiliar with this particular time period will be drawn into the fictional life of Kit and Adam de Guirande drawn against the reign of Edward II. Kit and Adam find their lives governed and their hands tied by the politics and intrigue surrounding them. Spies are everywhere. Kit serves Edward II’s queen, Isabella, who, untrusted and unloved, plots against her husband. Adam’s former allegiance to Edward’s enemy Roger Mortimer, now exiled in France, makes him a traitor in Edward’s eyes. Adam may have sworn his allegiance to Edward’s son, but Despenser and the king seek any excuse to throw him into the dungeon, or worse, execute him. I was genuinely frightened for both the fiery Kit and the loyal Adam, which shows how much I cared for them.

When they become embroiled in Mortimer’s plot to raise money and an army to fight Edward, the stakes become deadlier. Queen Isabella and Prince Edward are sent to France to negotiate a peace, and Adam and Kit with them. The tale becomes heart wrenching as their family is torn apart and the young prince becomes a pawn in his mother’s hands. Will Adam and Kit stand by the prince, the queen, and Mortimer? The story of King Edward II and his favorite, Hugh Despenser, is one that in and of itself sounds more fiction than fact. But it is true, an incredible twisted history that Ms. Belfrage breathes life into with the help of her fictional characters.

Highly recommended.

Disclosure: I received an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Chancellor, justiciar, and papal legate William Longchamp – my guest post on #EHFA

To his contemporaries, William Longchamp became “a man with three titles and three heads,” exercising power as justiciar, chancellor, and papal legate. His critics claim he was greedy, ambitious, and unscrupulous. Learn more about the man Richard the Lionheart left to attend to the business of his kingdom in my guest post on English Historical Fiction Authors.

For King and Country and Men of the Cross

are available on Amazon sites worldwide.

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