Integral to the built up fabric of the city, are many different types of open spaces. The spaces have arisen for many different reasons and differ greatly in use, extent and character.
Within the city centre many open spaces, such as small parks and urban squares, were first defined as early as the medieval period. Castle Hill is one of the oldest and longest serving public squares in the city, and is still host to a number of markets and events including Lincoln’s Christmas Market. Cornhill off High Street was originally the churchyard of St. John, but was converted for use as a Cornmarket from the mid 16th century. In comparison City Square has more recent origins, being created through a regeneration scheme in 1983. These squares are important public spaces, often serving as an event space for markets and fairs. Several cemeteries and churchyards in particular survive in the city centre, some of which are still used for their original function, whereas others have been converted into small parks or squares. Many, such as the former churchyards of St. Martin’s and St. Benedict’s in High Street Character Area, retain original features such as gravestones and boundary walls. However, in almost all instances open spaces have been altered to enable them to be used as a recreational space. These types of locations are often very central as they were associated with Medieval churches located in the historic core of the city.
Fig. 1 St. Benedicts Square and surviving church off the west side of High Street
Outside of the immediate city centre Lincoln has a variety of parks and gardens, some of which have been purposely designed, such as The Victorian Arboretum and Temple Gardens, whereas others have come about through the re-use and regeneration of land. One of the city’s earliest designed parks survives only as a raised footpath. Besom Park was created in the mid 18th century as a parambulation along the former lower city western defences. Temple Gardens immediately west of the city centre was created as a fee paying garden in the late 19th century, and the Arboretum further east was built in 1871 as part of the city’s Victorian expansion. In the heart of the city, are the parkland style gardens within the fortified enclosure of the Lincoln Castle. In other parts of the city parks have been developed as part of the regneration of former industrial land, such as Greetwell Hollow in Greetwell Quarry and Swanholme Lakes Nature Reserve.
Fig. 2 View of Temple Gardens in Lindum Hill Character Area
Two other parks in the south of the city are the surviving elements of extensive private estates from the 19th century. Boultham Park and Hartsholme Country Park are parts of former estates where the main house has been lost but part of the grounds have been given over to Local Authority control. As a result, it is possible to see aspects of the ‘private’ past in these public parks such as the formal garden with a fountain in Boultham Park, and the stable block and boating lake at Hartsholme Park.
Allotment sites can also be found across the city, some on the edges of the urban area such as those in St. George’s Character Area, on Burton Ridge and South Common whereas others are closely integrated with residential areas such as those on Long leys Road and Wragby Road.
Private gardens also contribute to the city’s green spaces. The majority of properties have their own private spaces whether it be a small courtyard or a large garden, with the size of the space often depending on its location in the city and the type of property. For example, some of the largest gardens in the city can be found around the properties built in Lindum Terrace Character Area where there are large detached properties set in extensive grounds. Although gardens are not publicly accessible cumulatively they contribute to the green and suburban character of many parts of the city.
Fig. 3 Mature trees creating a suburban character along roads in the south of the city
Waterways, such as river and drains, plus their associated river corridors, are also important elements of Lincoln’s natural open spaces. The waterways are used for several leisure activities including pleasure boating and fishing but they are also often accompanied by river-side paths that are used for walking and cycling.
Closer to the city centre the waterways and Brayford Pool and much more ‘urbanised’ water features, often with tall concrete sides, railings and little in the way of natural verges. However, they are still large open areas that permit wider views and provide a ‘natural’ element in an otherwise heavily urbanised environment (see Brayford Pool, Sincil Street Character Areas). Brayford Pool in particular is popular as a waterside setting for eating and drinking. In urban areas these extensive open areas can be obscured by development or disconnected by infrastructure or even topography, preventing easy use of the open spaces by urban communities (e.g. Wigford Way and the Brayford, and Castle Hill and Steep Hill).
Fig. 4 Canal boats moored on the banks of the Brayford
Overall open spaces offer tranquil places in the city and opportunities for recreation such as cycling and walking. They break up the built environment by proving ‘natural’ elements in the townscape such as a low level of noise, wider views and lower sense of enclosure.