Abandoned to the vandals, the Grade II-listed former military hospital that treated generations of servicemen

For decades, it played a vital role treating the thousands of sick and injured who sacrificed themselves during the wars of the 20th century.

But now the abandoned former military hospital Nocton Hall, in Lincolnshire, that cared for civilians and soldiers from World War I up until the First Gulf War, has become a constant target for vandals and arsonists.

These new haunting images of debris strewn corridors, flaking walls and leaking roofs are testament to the decrepit state of the site, at the centre of which sits the Victorian hall that is now on a list of the most endangered historic buildings in the country.

RAF Hospital Nocton Hall

At risk: Preservationists are worried about the desperate state of the Grade II-listed Nocton Hall, in Lincolnshire, which once was the site of a key military hospital

RAF Nocton Hall, Lincolnshire

Abandoned: At its peak, Nocton Hall Hospital had 740 beds and cutting edge facilities, able to treat civilians and military personnel with a range of injuries and illness

Nocton Hall

Decrepit: Vandals have regularly targeted the historic building, looting bannisters and fireplaces from the site and daubing the walls in graffiti

Since falling into disrepair over the past 17 years, the site has been left largely forgotten and unprotected against a constant onslaught of crime and weather. But a number of bids are underway to rescue Nocton Hall.

English Heritage has placed it on the UK 'Buildings At Risk' register and are seeking help to secure and preserve what is left of the old Hall and restore its gardens.

The Victorian Society also put the Nocton Hall - rebuilt in 1841 for the first Earl of Ripon after a great fire destroyed the previous building - among its 10 most endangered buildings for England and Wales.

The society said: ‘At first glance Nocton Hall seems to be just an intriguing, burnt out ruin, far beyond repair.

‘Amazingly, that is not the case and most of this grand Victorian Hall could still be saved. It was originally built as a private house for the Earl of Ripon, since then it has been an RAF hospital and a residential home. In the mid-90s it was bought by a property developer.

Nocton Hall

Historic: For more than half a century, Nocton Hall Hospital treated the sick and injured from conflicts around the globe, including World War I and the First Gulf War

Nocton Hall

Ruin: Conservationists are desperate for help to save the main old Hall from destruction as years of abandonment have taken its toll on the fabric of the structures

‘The hall was repeatedly targeted by vandals and then in 2004 the main house suffered a major fire. Bringing this impressive hall back into use would be a huge undertaking; in the meantime both the owner and the local authority have a responsibility to protect this Grade II-listed building from further decay.’

Nocton Hall

Past: A flaking sign hints at the role rehabilitating and caring from veterans of wars around the war during the 20th century

During World War I the privately owned Nocton Hall was handed over to the U.S. upon its entry into the war in 1917.

It was turned into a convalescent home for American officers wounded in the War, the last of whom left in 1919.

It then lay vacant until war clouds again began to develop over Europe in the 1930s, when the RAF realised its stations being created across Lincolnshire would exhaust the only RAF hospital in the county at nearby Cranwell.

The Air Ministry acquired the Hall and 200 acres of parkland in 1940 and built the RAF hospital.

But before it was even opened, it was deemed too small and another RAF hospital was established at Rauceby.

The U.S. Army again took over the complex of  buildings, turning it into a clearing station. More facilities were added to the east of the Hall and it was formally re-designated the United States Army Seventh General Hospital.

At the end of the War in 1945, the RAF selected Nocton Hall to be its permanent general hospital for Lincolnshire, designating it No 1 RAF Hospital Nocton Hall.

Nocton Hall

Haunting: Years of vandalism has left many of the buildings needing a huge amount work to protect them from the ravages of the weather

Nocton Hall

Eerie: Many of the corridors are strewn with debris and flaking plaster which has collected since the site was abandoned 17 years ago


  • 1917 to 1919: Convalescent home for American officers
  • Opened: 1940
  • Re-designated: 1943 United States Army Seventh General Hospital
  • Re-designated: 1945 RAF Nocton Hall
  • Closed: 31 Mar 1983
  • Leased to USAF: 1984 - 1995
  • Formally closed 23 June, 1995, handed back by U.S. Forces September 1995

Four wards were added in 1946, and the first patient was admitted on 1 November, 1947, in 1954 surgical, opthalmic and dental facilities were added, in 1957 a maternity wing was built and in 1966, twin operating theatres and a neuro-psychiatric centre were added to the sprawling site which had developed into a 740 bed hospital, used by civilians and forces personnel, and one of the country’s undisputed RAF Hospitals.

But the decision was taken on 31 March 1983 to close RAF Nocton Hall.

Within months, the hospital was leased to America as a United States Air Force wartime contingency hospital.

During the Gulf War in 1991 and 1992 approximately 1,300 U.S. medical staff were sent to the site, which became the 310th Contingency Hospital from Travis Air Force Base in Northern California.

Only 35 casualties were treated at Nocton during the conflict. Once the ground operations were over and the patients and staff dispersed, only 13 American personnel remained at the site to keep the hospital serviceable.

Surplus to both the U.S. and the British, it was sold and became a residential home in the mid 1990s, but was soon again abandoned.

It has since been regularly targeted by looters, who have removed bannisters and fireplaces. Shortly before midnight on Sat 24 October 2004, the hall was set ablaze by arsonists.

At its height, about 70 firefighters attended the fire which started just before midnight. After several hours it was brought under control, but the roof collapsed and the building was severely damaged.

Only a shell was to remain, but conservationists believe the building can be returned to it former glory.

Nocton Hall

Onslaught: Vandals and looters have managed to breach security around the site and remove valuable features and repeatedly try to burn the buildings down

Nocton Hall

Care: Thousands of patients would have once passed through these wards for treatment injuries sustained during the horrors of conflict

Nocton Hall

Rehabilitation: The huge sprawling 200 acre site in Lincolnshire grew to encompass dozens of buildings, a maternity ward and facilities to treat a range of illnesses

Nocton Hall

Abandoned: Efforts are underway to preserve the buildings with a campaign by both English Heritage and The Victorian Society to highlight the site's plight

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