Secret Drinker reviews the Magna Carta in Lincoln
Forget a night on the tiles, how about an afternoon on the cobbles?
Lincoln’s Magna Carta has arguably the most picturesque setting - and views - of any pub in the county.
Lumped between castle and cathedral, the popular city venue is the perfect place to catch your breath after clambering up - or preparing not to stumble down – Steep Hill.
Named after the 800-year-old human rights charter created by King John to stop rebels chopping him into bits – a copy of which is stored at the big place next door – the Castle Square pub is an eye-catching venue and pleasant place to stop for a drink or bite to eat.
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The first impression of the Magna Carta, both inside and out, is how well looked after it is.
I don’t think there’s a speck of dust in the place, which still maintains a cosy, homely feel.
Over three floors, there’s plenty of seating, tables to suit all sizes of parties and while the large wood-meets-deep-blue bar – which has an expensive Laura Ashley country kitchen feel to it – spans the back of the ground floor with a wide range of beers, ciders, spirits and hot and cold drinks.
To my delight, a row of seemingly old paintings brought to life with daring modern daubings lined the wall near the bar.
“The best ones are round the corner near the toilets, I don’t know whey they put them there,” said the barmaid, after I told them I was a fan.
She was right too. Not a bad eye.
From iron age settlement to Roman stronghold, Lincoln has been many things to many people, including its current guise as a cool, vibrant university city.
But while other bars further downhill are where to go for a knees up – or a bottomless brunch as the hip kids seem to prefer these days – this part of the city, at the foot of Bailgate, has the tourist vibe.
And that was very much what I found of the Sunday afternoon spent here.
Customers came and went, their tables their own domain as they checked out the menus, ate their food, discussed what was next on the itinerary or shared snaps of impressive sites taken that day on their cameras.
“Lincoln’s nicer than I thought. Much nicer,” said one lady with pink hair with what I believed to be a German-ish accent on the table next to me.
She’s right. Lincoln's a glorious city that doesn’t get the national acclaim it deserves (and won’t until people wielding the power finally decide to put a transport infrastructure in place that makes it possible for visitors to get anywhere in the county), and the Magna Carta is a very nice pub, to help very nice people make their very nice visit even nicer.
It doesn’t have the chatty vibe of the Strugglers Inn or the bangin’ toons and sticky floor of the Walkabout on a Saturday night (although evenings the Magna Carta can be standing room only).
But if you’re here to walk the castle walls, pay over the odds for some quaint British cheese and fudge and round your day off with a nice pleasant drink in a pleasant bar then you’re at the right place.
MAGNA CARTA, 1 EXCHEQUER GATE, LINCOLN, LN2 1PZ
DECOR: It’s neat. It’s traditional. It’s modern. It’s an enjoyable mixture that has enough comfort to bring in the tourists and enough quirks to give them talking points. 3/5
DRINK: 61 Deep (3.9% ABV) is a Marston’s Pale Ale. It’s pleasant but there are more preferable options. 2/5
PRICE: At £4.95 for the pint it was a reasonable price in what could be a pricey tourist trap. In fairness, a glance of the food menu showed some reasonable food prices too. 3/5
ATMOSPHERE: Very low key and touristy, probably what most of the people in there wanted. 3/5
STAFF: The barmaid should be put in charge of decor. She knew good art. 3/5
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