The Lawn

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I spent a day exploring Lincoln. In the area behind the castle, I decided to to see what was happening in The Lawn. There is little information on the web and the map of Lincoln from Tourist Information wasn’t much more informative. I first visited this about 25 years ago and had really enjoyed my visit.

The Lawn, a splendid neoclassical building with an enormous central portico and surrounded by grass lawns, was purpose built as a hospital for mentally ill patients. Dr E Charlesworth and Dr F Willis were pioneers and used what at the time was regarded as an enlightened treatment known as non- restraint. They dispensed with the use of shackles and straight jackets which was the standard method of treating mental illness. The rooms were light and airy and the walls were built below the brow of the hill so the patients wouldn’t feel constrained.

It continued to provide psychiatric inpatient facilities until closed by the NHS in 1985. It was bought by the council and visitors could wander round the rooms which had information about the hospital and its history. Unfortunately there were few visitors and it shut. Now Lincoln City Council are wanting to sell the site.

There are a lot of brick buildings attached to the site. The accommodation block of the nurses and doctors is now the boutique Charlotte House Hotel. Others are used as offices or conference rooms.

A large sign at the entrance pointed advertised the Tropical House with Koi Carp, with free entry. I set off in search of this. It is a large glass house called the Joseph Banks conservatory and dedicated to his work. An information board gives some history about Banks. Another explains that a footpath follows his route on board HMS Endeavour. The plants are grouped into areas which correspond to the different regions visited on the voyage of discovery in 1768/9. They are supposed to have colour coded labels, but I couldn’t find any.

Basically it is a large tropical greenhouse and was very hot and humid inside. There was a walkway round with wooden bench seats. The Koi carp were swimming lazily round a small pond with white flowered arums growing in it. Most of the plants were large versions of pot plants. None were labelled. To be honest there wasn't a lot inside there.

At the entrance was a rather pretentious cafe serving reasonably priced tea, coffee and biscuits. It wasn’t doing much trade. Beyond was an equally pretentious shop which I didn’t investigate.

I eventually found the neoclassical facade of the mental home by following the path round to the south of the site. I was the only person there and it did feel rather lonely and a bit spooky. I was very disappointed and won’t be going back again.

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