The Duchy of Lancaster and Lancashire County Council Museums Service are to open up the A-Wing of Lancaster Castle from Monday 15th August 2016. A new ‘Prison Life’ exhibition, which has been jointly managed and funded by Lancashire County Council and the Duchy of Lancaster, has been installed in the ground-floor cells to help to tell the story of the building’s Victorian past.
Each of the ground floor cells in A-Wing will focus on a particular aspect of prison life, including food, work, health, religion, recreation and punishment. Historic artefacts secured by the Lancashire County Council (LCC) Museums Service will be on display, supported by wall panels explaining the historical context and genuine quotes from prisoners and former prison guards displayed on the walls.
This is designed as a ‘walk-through’ exhibition to allow visitors to view the cells at their own pace. Access will only be possible as part of a guided tour by official LCC staff. There will be no extra charge for this extension to the existing tour, with ticket prices held at £8.00 per adult and £6.50 for concessions (£20 for a family ticket).
Duchy Chief Executive Nathan Thompson said: “We promised to open up as much of the Castle as possible to members of the general public, residents and tourists to the city. This is the latest manifestation of us delivering on this promise and we will continue to do our best to open up new areas of the Castle as the restoration works are completed.”
County Councillor Marcus Johnstone, Lancashire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Planning and Cultural Services, added: “There has always been a great deal of public interest in A-Wing, which is a traditional Pentonville-style prison as seen in popular films and TV programmes, such as Porridge. Originally started in the 1820s, it incorporates a panopticon, a glass atrium and 18 cells over each of 3 floors. The addition of this building to our guided tours will open up more areas of the prison to the general public and help them to understand that part of the history of the Castle is as a place of incarceration and imprisonment.”
The prison life exhibition will be added to the Castle’s guided tours from Monday 15th August 2016.