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The Cardinal’s Hat Re-discovering Lincoln’s lost pub

A quirky pub branding for one of Lincoln High Street’s most iconic buildings


The Cardinal’s Hat is a historic pub located between Lincoln’s famous Steep Hill and busy High Street. 

The Grade II listed building dates back to the 16th century and following extensive refurbishment in 2018 it opened as a characterful pub. Optima created a new brand for the pub which was named after Cardinal Wolsey, Bishop of Lincoln. 

The brand was inspired by the building’s history, we imagined the characters who may have frequented the original bustling 16th century tavern and used them as a starting point for the brand story. We created a logo with an iconic red ‘cardinal’s hat’ drawn in a style to match a collection of ‘friends of the cardinal’, Dickensian-style characters we created inspired by the Pickwick Papers.


  • Brand design
  • Design for print
  • Promotional items
  • Signage


  • Food and drink

With an extensive menu of beers, lagers, ciders, wines, spirits and artisanal-style food platters, we created a ‘newspaper’ menu to showcase the pub’s offering and included vintage-style ads and ‘friends’ of the cardinal’ character recommendations.