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Oldest Franciscan friary in England will reopen in 2025

DCF 1.0

By Dave Hitchborne, CC

Daniel Esparza - published on 11/01/22

Lincoln’s Greyfriars is receiving over 3M pounds in funding to be restored and reopened.

Lincoln’s Greyfriars is a Franciscan friary built in the 13th century in Lincolnshire, England. It is considered the oldest surviving Franciscan friary building in the country: Construction of the Friary was started in 1237, on land donated to the Franciscan order, and was completed by the 1280s. The community was expelled in 1538, as part of Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries. Almost five centuries later, the friary will reopen to visitors, as the site is receiving over 3 million pounds in funding from different sources to restore and redevelop the building.

Since the Dissolution, Lincoln’s Greyfriars has been used for plenty of different purposes. From 1574 until 1900, the Corporation Grammar School was run by Lincoln City Council on the upper floor. The undercroft of the building was successively used as a jersey knitting and spinning school until 1831, a Mechanics’ Institute from 1833 to 1862, and as part of the same Grammar School from 1862 to 1899. It ceased to be used as a school in 1900, and it was first restored and opened to the public as the City and County Museum in 1907.

In 1974, Lincolnshire County Council took control of the Lincoln’s Greyfriars museum. It became a venue for annually changing exhibitions in the 1990s. Its main collections then underwent a series of conservation and restoration works, in expectation of a new home being built. The museum eventually closed, and the building was used for a period by the Central Library, but was left vacant in 2008. In 2016, the city council even considered selling the building.

As explained in, the City of Lincoln Council and Heritage Lincolnshire have now secured funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to renovate, rebuild, and reopen Greyfriars. The new project will create a multi-functional space for weddings, conferences, educational purposes, and a café space for the community. It is hoped that this restoration ensures that Lincoln’s Greyfriars would be removed from the National At Risk Register.

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