Situated at the head of the yard of the Red Lion Hotel, in Horncastle’s Bull Ring, the Lion Theatre seats nearly one hundred people in its comfortably furnished auditorium in the centre of town.
A Community Asset
The shell of the theatre and the stage was provided by the Benson family – Betty, Eric, and Tim – who in 1988 financed and carried out the conversion and reconstruction of the various outbuildings. The internal work was a massive DIY job by members of the Company and friends, financed by a fund-raising campaign generously supported by local people and organisations.
One major fund activity was the sponsorship of a seat or plaque on the wall for £25. The main red velvet curtains were contributed by Mantles fish and chip shop. Time could well be spent looking around the auditorium , reading the names of sponsors.
The theatre has one main dressing room and a green room for the cast and crew backstage. Although it originally provided a full range of drinks, and later coffee, tea and biscuits, the old theatre bar has now been re-purposed into an entrance lobby. Customers can buy refreshments at the Red Lion inn, owned and managed by the Samuel Smith Brewery.
The theatre was refurbished in 2016 thanks to the generosity of members and the community, with a complete overhaul of seats and curtains.
Building the Theatre
The theatre was built from scratch by the then-landlords of the Red Lion Hotel, the Bensons, and members of the company. The areas that are now the stage, lobby, bar, green-room, and dressing rooms were historically the inn’s coach- and out-houses; the auditorium was built from scratch between two of the outbuildings.
The buildings had been used by various local arts groups for some time before the theatre was built, but the company has used them exclusively ever since, and owns everything but the bricks and mortar of the theatre, right down to the kitchen sinks. The purchase of all this was funded by many local businesses and philanthropists.