Lincoln Crown Court may be booted out of its castle home and subsumed into a bland court centre.
The Ministry of Justice is considering plans to turn Lincoln Crown Court into a wedding venue and location for historic mock trial re-enactments.
Lincoln County Council says that the famous court building — which is part of a grade 2-listed castle dating back to the early 19th century — is unfit for purpose, with the use of the rest of the castle as a tourist attraction apparently particularly problematic. In addition, it is claimed that the ivy-clad jewel in HM Courts & Tribunals Service’s, er, crown is hard to adapt for modern use, with the lack of meeting rooms a major problem.
Accordingly, the council’s director of resources, Peter Moore, has revealed that he and his colleagues are “looking at the heritage opportunities for the building with the Magna Carta celebrations next year”. Speaking to the Lincolnshire Echo, he added:
“The court could be used for mock trials for tourists to show how the justice system works. Another possibility is the relocation of the registrar services of celebrations and other events being held at the building and the surrounding grounds.”
Meanwhile, the plan is to move the Crown Court to Lincoln’s modern Magistrates’ Court building (pictured below) in the town centre, where some Crown Court cases are already heard during busy tourist periods at the castle.
But, while lawyers admit this may be a sensible decision when considered in purely practical terms, there is sadness about the prospect of one of the most charming court buildings in Britain being turned over to the events and tourist trade.
“I am torn because although it would be sad to lose the Crown Court in the castle grounds,” said Burton & Co solicitor Andrew Kerrigan. “The facilities are limited and old fashioned. There’s only one meeting room for clients and two meeting rooms in the public area, one of which is used for video conferencing. [But] My concern would be that if there’s any proposal to move to the magistrates’ court or extend it, there must be sufficient capacity.”
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