The Hidden History of Greyfriars

 

 

A medieval hidden gem, Greyfriars sits on the edge of Lincoln City's Cultural Quarter. A Grade 1 Listed building and Scheduled Ancient Monument of international importance. Believed to be one of the earliest Franciscan Churches in Europe. It is also possible that it is the oldest standing Franciscan building in England.

700 years of uses

St Francis of Assisi created the Franciscan Order, 30 years later the Franciscans were given their first plot of land in Lincoln c.1230. The plot was continuously expanded over 7 years including the land on which the Greyfriars site now stands.

The dissolution of the monasteries caused a drastic change to the use of the site. Greyfriars was given to the crown in c.1539, soon after Greyfriars was converted into a house. A generation later the use of the building changed again, this time into a school. During this time alterations were made to the building such as adding glass windows and fireplaces.

Elizabethan fireplace

Soon after the school was up and running, Greyfriars was gifted to the City. The City of Lincoln has owned Greyfriars for over 400 years.

The upper floor of Greyfriars was continuously used as a school until 1900. The undercroft however had many uses such as storage, a house of correction, a wool factory, Jersey School and Mechanics Institute.

A decision was made in the early 20th century to restore the building and turn it into a museum. Greyfriars was used as the City and County Museum from 1907—2004. The building was used as a temporary exhibition space but has mostly remained empty.

Graffiti can be found within the building, some graffiti even dates back to the 1700’s from its time as a school.

Graffiti from different periods

It is not surprising that graffiti can be found within the building, Some Graffiti even dates back to the 1700’s from its time as a school. Funnily enough the graffiti tradition within Greyfriars did not end when the school closed but continued right up until the 1980’s. We can all draw from our own experiences at school, graffiti is often associated with vandalism and bad behaviour however it is great to see a ‘naughty school boys’ graffiti from the 1700’s and it reminds us that some things don’t change.

What now?

Heritage Lincolnshire has been working with City of Lincoln Council to find a new life for Greyfriars. We hope to create a visitor attraction that will tell the story of Greyfriars. Appealing to all ages by offering an immersive and multi-sensory experience.

 

 

 

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