This Lawn is NOT for Cutting

Please sign petition at the end of this blogpost, thank you

frontage of the lawn

The Lawn’s grand frontage

The City of Lincoln Council have put The Lawn back up for sale.  The asking price is £1,000,000, admittedly it has suffered from lack of maintenance and needs another £800,000 (last years figure so it’s probably more like £1,000,000) spent on it.

Why are the City of Lincoln Council selling it?  £2,000,000 won’t fill many holes in their 2014-15 budget; the Council’s annual budget is in the region of £25,000,000 pounds so £1,000,000 would last for just over 2 weeks.  Turned into a tourist attraction it’s value to the City would surely be more than £2,000,000 per annum.  

Unfortunately, the City Council do not have the drive or enthusiasm to develop the Lawn Complex into a tourist attraction.  The council only pay lip service to tourism, the Christmas Market happened to be a ‘success’ by accident rather than design.

QuestionsI asked Cllr. Ric Metcalfe some questions on Facebook today, unfortunately he didn’t answer the last question.  Which means the purchaser can put the building and grounds to any use they want (subject to planning) and exclude the public from the grounds and the Dawber Garden


The Lawn (formerly Lincoln Lunatic Asylum) is an historic building where many new methods were perfected to treat mentally ill patients in a more humane way (read more about the Lawn here)

It seems strange that the City of Lincoln Council wish to dispose of The Lawn when across the road at the Castle work is in the final stages to erect a new building and improve access.

Lincoln Castle Revealed is a major restoration of the buildings and walls costing in the region of £22,000,000.  It includes a new temperature and light controlled building to house Lincoln’s copy of the Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest, the only place where both important documents can be viewed; restoration of the walkways around the castle including installation of lifts for disabled visitors and rebuilding of the curtain walls.

During the restoration work several important and unique discoveries have been made, including a formerly unknown church and a stone sarcophagus containing the remains of an important person.

Lincoln Cathedral Connected is the Dean & Chapters project to improve the area around the Cathedral (read about it here).  The Dean & Chapter have applied for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to enable the development of the plans, the total cost of the project is £12,000,000.

The Castle Revealed and (if funding is available) the Cathedral Connected projects will move Lincoln up several levels as a tourist destination, so why are the City Council selling a marvellous asset that could be put to many different uses:

  • There are 2 or 3 empty shops and an empty cafe plus offices on the site which, if the Lawn was marketed as a tourist attraction, could generate useful income for the council.
  • The Joseph Banks Convervatory celebrates one of the most important English botanists but it has been neglected over the years and needs money and time spent to restore it.  Why is there a retail unit at the entrance?  It adds nothing to the conservatory and makes access to it difficult.  The unit would be better placed in one of the shop units opposite the Charlotte House.  It appears the conservatory is included in the sale.
  • Mental Health is very much in the spotlight, a national museum of Mental Illness would be a good way to highlight the forward thinking that was used at the Lawn in the early 19th century.
  • There are many other ways the Lawn could be used to the benefit of this beautiful and historic city of ours.

    The lawn's portico

    The City of Lincoln Arms proudly emblazoned on the Lawn’s Greek Portico

The Cathedral, Castle, Lawn and the Museum of Lincolnshire Life would make an excellent tourist trail.

In the words of the salesman “Once it’s gone, it’s gone!”, we can’t afford to lose this fine asset.  I predict in a few years the grounds will be built on and the buildings turned into flats at a vast profit to a developer – despite what the covenants may state.

Please sign the epetition to stop the sale

The sale particulars can be viewed here

What next?:

Anyone want to buy an arch?  It’s been knocked about a bit in the last 1800 years.


Reply received to my question to Cllr Ric Metcalfe late the next morning:

City of Lincoln Council Hi Phil, apologies Ric had left before this question came in. The South lawn is included in the proposed sale and so would become private space, but most of the West lawn is excluded and so would remain publicly accessible.

We will be evaluating bid proposals in due course and proposed use and treatment of the grounds will be one of many considerations taken into account.





The Main Entrance Hall

Edward Parker Charlesworth

Edward Parker Charlesworth



Gallery | This entry was posted in Castle, Cathedral, Hotel, Victorian, Visitors and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to This Lawn is NOT for Cutting

  1. Michael Cottam says:

    What a fantastic venue Hartsholme Hall or Boultham Hall would have been for weddings or hotels,but they’ve gone for ever. Don’t let us make the same mistake with The Lawns complex.
    If the same issues were to be addressed in our mega rich Capitol you could imagine the outcry.

  2. Thanks for your comments Michael. It is unfortunate that our council can only see these things in the short term and are unable to see the bigger picture.

  3. Josephine Yates says:

    I didn’t realise The Lawns wasn’t in use! With a little imagination it could become a shining jewel in the city’s tourist crown.

    • That’s very true Josephine. Sadly the council want to get rid of it for what I believe are purely political reasons. The council has owned it since 1986 and lacked imagination with what can be done with it.

      I am disappointed that very few people are interested in saving this wonderful building and the Joseph Banks Conservatory, only 22 signatures so far on my petition

  4. John Dwane says:

    Hi Phil,

    Sorry not to have signed your petition earlier. I simply didn’t know about it till it popped up on my Facebook wall. I must admit that I haven’t been on “It’s about Lincoln” for some time – busy, busy, busy!

    As someone who had marvellous treatment for mental illness at The Lawn in the late 1970s, I am keenly interested in its survival in public ownership. It would be a dreadful shame if it was sold to a millionaire developer or somesuch, as has happened to so much of our heritage.

    I will share the Facebook post, in the hope that at least some of my friends will follow my lead and sign the petition.

  5. Jane Rimmer says:

    I have signed the petition and urged others to do so too. The Lawn was newly set up when my son was little, and I remember how nice the conservatory was when we visited the city then. Imagine my horror to see, when we moved back to Lincoln 4 years ago (son is 23 now), to see that The Lawn had seemingly not been tended since our previous visit, the conservatory a shameful mess, overrun with unruly children, etc.
    The council just have no imagination, and seemingly no desire to plan for the future. The same thing happened in the ’70s, when the council effectively prevented a new theatre being built.
    Surely Lincoln has such a rich history that there must be some sort of cultural/historical use that can be found for such a marvellous building. With the magna carta centre on the way, it is criminal not to make use of it, with the planned free access through the castle.

    • Thank you for your comments Jane.

      I agree that the council have no imagination: if this had been in York I am certain they would have made good use of it.
      The City Council bought the Lawn in 1986 and, apart from the Christmas Market, very little seems to have been done with it. Retail businesses have opened there and closed after a relatively short time. But the Lincoln Castle Revealed project, due to open in 2015 will change all that. To my mind part of it would make a really good crafts centre, genuine crafts not tat imported from China like we see at the Christmas Market.

      I am certain with a bit of thought other things could be added and it would generate money for the whole of Lincoln. Unfortunately, the City Councillors do not have the necessary imagination to carry the project through>

      Could selling the Lawn be a political move? “Look what the Coalition have forced us to do”.

  6. I am convinced that there is an imaginative use for The Lawn which will enhance the offer to visitors and tell the story of important aspects of the city and county. My vote would go for a Joseph Banks Centre and I will be only too pleased to help anyone body wishing to pursue this.

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