Minor British Institutions: The Lincoln Imp

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The Independent Online

Evil-looking little fellow isn't he? He was sent by the Devil himself to cause trouble here on earth, turning up at Lincoln Cathedral to disrupt the choir and trip up the Bishop.

Rather than have an Asbo slapped on him, medieval justice (c 1363) instead consisted of an angel turning the imp to stone as he cowered in the roof. Which is where you will find him still.

You may or may not believe that before being cryogenically set in stone, the imp bent the spire at Chesterfield Cathedral and vandalised Grimsby's St James Church. A bit like football hooligans, his exact crimes are difficult to pin down.

In any case, he has become an odd little mascot for his home town, and can also be found lurking around Lincoln College, Oxford, where of course the students are all very saintly.

The Lincoln Imp is not to be confused with the Hillman Imp car (c 1963), which was also sent by the Devil and plagued its owners with overheating engines and warped cylinder heads.

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