Spilsby Theatre

Situated in an impressive former sessions house and gaol, this is the only venue for dedicated arts and community activity in Spilsby.

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Church Street, Spilsby, Lincolnshire, PE23 5DY
Risk Rating
7 (risk rating: 2, star rating: 2, community rating: 3)
The Dandelion Trust
H E Kendall
Date of Construction
1824 (as sessions house)
Grade II


Spilsby Theatre was formed in 1984 from a former sessions house and gaol built in 1827. It features an impressive façade with an imposing tetra-style portico. The auditorium is within the original courtroom and has an end gallery, facing a low stage. The holding cells (now dressing rooms) still exist. A former coach house provides a rehearsal space and workshop. It is the only dedicated arts and community venue in the small Lincolnshire town of Spilsby.

Why is this theatre at risk?

Spilsby Theatre’s owner, the Dandelion Trust, like many small charities, has struggled to cope with the costs of maintaining and renovating an historic building. As a result, the auditorium roof has become unsafe and the ceiling in danger of collapse. The auditorium was closed in 2015 and structural support installed. Activities are occurring in other parts of the building. A group of volunteers, known as The Sessions House, has come together, with the ambition of taking over the operation of the building, and developing a vibrant and viable programme, but is facing considerable challenges, given the state of the building. In December 2016 The Sessions House Community Interest Company was officially registered as a not for profit organisation, and began working on funding applications to cover the costs of a viability study to assess the options and establish the cost of renovating the theatre.

In December 2017, the Sessions House suffered a huge set-back when a section of plaster ceiling collapsed in the theatre’s bar area. Subsequent safety concerns have led to the cancelation of all current events, including Christmas fundraising performances.

Current situation

The Sessions House is focussed on reopening the building and continuing its current programme of activity (including a kids and youth theatre group, music events and regular community arts groups). The Sessions House is also continuing fundraising for its viability study and has appointed a design team to carry out this work. Theatres Trust has been supporting the theatre through workshops and advice on company structure and fundraising. The group has recently been successful in both a Heritage Lottery Fund bid and Architectural Heritage Fund bid for grants towards the viability study and is fundraising for the remaining costs.

Campaign video (from 2016)


Image: Spilsby Theatre, Theatres Trust