How folklore, a jeweller and the Prince of Wales helped the Imp become the symbol of Lincoln
Most of the time, when you read about what’s happening to Lincoln City FC, the team is likely referred to as “Imps”.
The imp is also clearly the symbol of the greater city of Lincoln, and its origins go back to another local institution – Lincoln Cathedral.
As with anything related to mythological creatures, the goblin’s beginnings in Lincoln owe mostly to folklore, but also a local jeweler.
Despite the city’s deep admiration for Imps, they are historically considered annoying and mischievous and are considered first in Germany.
Imps were not evil as such, but for a long time were considered more of a nuisance than a serious threat or danger.
Legend has it that a pair of mischievous demons, believed to be the descendants of the devil, visited the city’s cathedral and wreaked havoc inside by destroying everything they could.
Their wave of destruction was only stopped when an angel turned one of the goblins to stone. A figure in the cathedral’s choir of angels represents this part of the legend and shows the goblin in a position in which he holds his right leg, which rests on the left.
The other is said to have fled to Grimsby, where he began to destroy St. Jacob’s Church before he was also turned to stone.
However, in another version of events, the second goblin made it to the cathedral’s bishop’s door before being turned to stone
Lincolnshire-based author David Clark has delved into the origins of local imp infatuation, including its links with the cathedral, in his book “It Happened in Lincolnshire”.
In the book, Mr. Clark, who lives near Stamford, said: “The history of the Lincoln Imp extends to Lincoln College, Oxford.
On the subject of matching items
“In 1899 the college was presented with a picture of the Lincoln Imp, which was in the front quad above the hall door.
“In 2001, after it was a bit weathered, it was dismantled and replaced with a new image. The college magazine is called The Lincoln Imp and the boat club has taken the Imp as its mascot.
“The Lincoln Cathedral Imp’s popularity dates back to the late 19th century with a Lincoln jeweler named James Ward Usher. As a shrewd businessman, he decided to use the Lincoln Imp as a motif for his wares, ensuring that no one else could use it .
“He soon made everything from souvenir spoons to expensive tie pins and brooches. Although they were pretty grotesque, they became very fashionable. Even the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII, wore a tiepin with a diamond-studded leprechaun.
“Usher became so popular that anyone who wanted to write to him had only to send a letter to the silversmith who makes and sells the Lincoln Imp.”
(Image: Lincoln BIG)
Leprechaun jewelry was also said to bring good luck and helped Usher amass such wealth that he founded the Usher Gallery in town.
Goblins, demons, and other related creatures can be found in the form of gargoyles on the outside of churches. St. Laurence’s Church in Surfleet is an example of this, as is St. Michael’s Church in Coningsby.
Many goblins and demons can also be found in churches such as Lincoln Cathedral.
According to Mr. Clark, “it is said that such images were provided to remind believers of the ongoing struggle between good and evil.
To celebrate this part of Lincolnshire’s identity, an Imp Trail will be set up across the city starting July 3rd.