Unseen areas of Lancaster Castle to be revealed

Previously unseen areas of Lancaster Castle will be opened up to the public for the first time in over 50 years this Easter weekend.

The Duchy of Lancaster, which owns the site, is working with Lancashire County Council Museums Service to organise a new tour which, for the first time, will allow people to see inside the courtyard area of the former prison. Access into this part of the Castle will offer visitors more detailed views of some of the building’s most historic and intriguing structures, including the outside of the witches tower and the doorway into the underground dungeons which housed the Lancashire Witches prior to their trial in 1612.

In addition, members of the public will be able to walk around the outside of the Keep, a four-storey tower which is the largest medieval building in the castle as well as the impressive twin-towered John O’ Gaunt Gatehouse. The former prison buildings including the female penitentiary, which was built in 1821, also form part of the experience.

Colin Penny, manager of the Lancashire County Council museum at Lancaster Castle, said: “This new tour will allow visitors to see Lancaster Castle from a completely new perspective. As the inner courtyard was previously part of the prison, it is surrounded by high walls so wasn’t accessible to the public. Opening up this area provides visitors with a fantastic opportunity to see the Castle’s historic structures and prison buildings up close. Even the walls provide a fascinating insight into history with some displaying graffiti produced by some of the many prisoners over the years.”

The tour will last approximately an hour and a quarter with one running every half an hour between 10:30am and 5pm on Saturday, 7th April, Sunday, 8th April and Monday, 9th April.

Paul Clarke, CEO of the Duchy of Lancaster added: “I am pleased that after taking possession of the prison a mere three months ago, we are able to give the residents of Lancaster and visitors to the city, the chance to enter this remarkable building.

“This is a genuinely unique opportunity for members of the public to see inside the walls of the former prison. The expert tour guides are sure to provide an unforgettable experience, so we anticipate that tickets will be in high demand. Although this tour is only going to be available for a limited time, we hope to be able to offer a similar opportunity later this year.”

Tickets are available on a first come, first served basis and can be purchased from the Shire Hall complex at Lancaster Castle between 10am and 5pm. As this is an external tour, people are advised to come appropriately dressed and those with mobility issues to call Lancaster Castle in advance on 01524 64998. Tickets cost £9 for adults, £7 for concessions and children (5 yrs +) and £22 for a family (2 adults + 2 concessions).