Lancaster University Moves Into Lancaster Castle

Lancaster University is to open a new academic space in the former Link Block of Lancaster Castle.

The University has signed a two-year lease to operate the new purpose-built teaching suite completed last month as part of the Duchy’s latest phase of renovation and conservation.

A seminar room with a capacity for around 60 people will be used for academic events, teaching and training purposes. It will offer history and conservation students the chance to learn in a venue at the heart of their academic studies. Teaching for subjects with a particular relevance to the medieval Castle will take place during the current academic year. A small number of public events, building on the University’s links with the city, as well as staff and business meetings, will also take place in the venue.

Professor Dame Sue Black, Lancaster University Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engagement, said: “Having a city-centre campus extension in Lancaster’s historic castle allows us to develop a major presence in the vibrant heart of the city with which we at the university have always had such strong connections. The new venue also provides the opportunity to foster successful partnerships, with businesses, community organisations and with the City Council. Working together with the Duchy of Lancaster, we are positive that we can both benefit and ensure that heritage is at the heart of the vision for the city.”

Andrew Burgess, Lancaster University Director of Estates, Facilities and Commercial Services, said: “Students will be able to enhance their academic experience through teaching as part of history-based lectures. Our links with leading business and public sector organisations will also give them the opportunity to meet with our local partners in this historic space.”

Duchy Chief Executive Nathan Thompson added: “We are delighted to welcome Lancaster University to the Castle. This partnership aligns perfectly with the Duchy’s ambitions for these historic buildings and supports the development of a heritage asset which serves as a cultural hub and centre of learning for the local community as well as for visitors to the city.”

The refurbished Castle was re-opened to the public last month after a two-year restoration and conservation project focused on the lower courtyards and buildings. As a result of the works, the Castle now offers visitors the chance to enjoy a remodelled piazza, covered cloister walk, gallery space and a new purpose-built visitor café operated by Atkinsons.


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Liquid PR Chooses New Oxford House

New Oxford House in the heart of Birmingham’s commercial and financial district continues to build its reputation as a centre for culinary excellence with the addition of specialist marketing consultancy, Liquid.

Liquid is a public relations, design and marketing consultancy with offices in London, Guernsey and Jersey. The consultancy works for a broad range of clients across the full spectrum of industry sectors but is particularly well-known for its specialist food and drink team which includes a chef director, nationally acclaimed food writer, graphic and web designers, public relations consultants and social media experts.

Previously based in Enterprise House on Edmund Street, Liquid will relocate its Midlands operation to the newly refurbished 3rd floor of New Oxford House from 5th September and join our existing tenants including the Michelin-starred Adams restaurant and award-winning Pieminster pie shop on the ground floor.

Commenting on the letting of the space to Liquid, Duchy Asset Manager Marcel Desmily said: “We are delighted to welcome the Liquid team to New Oxford House. Our refurbishment of this building is part of our active asset management plan undertaken floor by floor and it is testament to the high specification of workspace and excellent location that Liquid has chosen it for its new office. We want to ensure that we continue to offer the local business community the highest quality office accommodation available anywhere in the city.”

Elisabeth Lewis-Jones, CEO of Liquid, said: “It was important for us to remain in the heart of Birmingham’s vibrant Colmore business district, both for recruitment and ease of access for our clients located across the UK. This move sees us invest heavily in our workspace from a demonstration kitchen for our food division to a team theatre for presentations and informal meetings. The quality of the office space and flexibility it provides will future-proof our growth over the next ten years.”

Situated on Waterloo Street and just a short walk from the Bullring, ICC and Birmingham’s excellent city centre bus and rail services, New Oxford House is managed by commercial property agents KWB Property Management Services.

For further information on Liquid PR please visit the website

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SavoyStrand Taking Shape

The 1920s building currently being refurbished at 105-109 Strand is to be renamed SavoyStrand to reflect its history and heritage as part of the Duchy’s historic Savoy Estate. The building formally known as Norman House is being totally transformed to provide a new landmark connecting the Strand, one of London’s busiest commercial streets, and the Thames embankment.

In additional to the reconfiguration and refurbishment of the lower floors, additional storeys are being added to both the front and rear of the original building with two large open terraces giving spectacular views over the riverside and cityscape. Work started on site in February 2019 and is on course for completion in late autumn 2020.

Commenting on the progress to date, Duchy Head of Urban Mike Andrews said: “This is a complex project and the largest refurbishment ever undertaken by the Duchy. We are pleased with the progress to date and with the levels of interest the new SavoyStrand is attracting. The retail unit has already been pre-let to Boots The Chemist and discussions are underway with potential tenants for the office accommodation. This early interest proves the demand for first-class office accommodation and retail space in this central commercial location. The scheme will also offer the opportunity for a high quality A3 restaurant unit on the lower levels.”

The rear of SavoyStrand overlooks The Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy, built as part of a charitable foundation on the death of by King Henry VII in the early sixteenth century. The Chapel, which can be accessed via Savoy Steps, has been the official Chapel of the Royal Victorian Order since 1937.  As part of the refurbishment project these links and accessways will also be improved to create a stronger connection between the Strand, the Chapel and the Embankment.

The Duchy of Lancaster’s Savoy Estate includes a number of historic buildings between the Strand and Embankment to the north and south and the Savoy Hotel and Somerset House to the west and east. It forms part of the Duchy’s Urban portfolio which also includes commercial and industrial/ warehouse buildings located in major conurbations across the North West, Midlands and South East of England.

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Lancaster Castle Restored and Re-Opened

Following a 2-year conservation project, the Duchy of Lancaster has re-opened the historic John O’Gaunt gate and unveiled the new-look Lancaster Castle to the visiting public.

The works have included the careful removal of the former Prison Visitors building to reveal a new sweeping piazza, covered cloister walk, purpose-built Visitor café, gallery space and teaching suite. Historic sightlines between the Castle and the Priory Church have also been restored by the lowering of the curtain wall to its original height and both the Male Felons and King’s Evidence Towers are now clearly visible for the first time.

Access has been improved throughout and includes 2 new step-free terraces, one in front of the covered Cloister Walk and the other in front of the world-famous Well Tower where the Lancashire Witches were incarcerated before trial in 1612.

In the first weekend of opening, over 4,000 people visited the Castle and sampled the new Visitor Café operated by local family owned coffee roasters Atkinsons. Commenting on the public reaction to the new space, Atkinsons’ owner and ‘Keeper of the Flame’ Ian Steel said: “We have been overwhelmed by the positive feedback received. We knew that The Kitchen was going to be an extraordinary new space and facility for the city and it is proving even more popular than we anticipated.”

Duchy Chief Executive Nathan Thompson added: “We are very pleased to be able to open the Castle to the public once again. Our objective has always been to protect this valuable heritage asset for future generations and bring these historic buildings back to life. We believe that this latest phase of works will encourage a wide variety of community uses and increase the national and international appeal of the City as a visitor destination.”

Lancaster Castle was returned to the Duchy at the end of 2011 with the closure of HMP Prison by the Ministry of Justice. After instigating a programme to protect the buildings by making them wind- and watertight again, the Duchy converted the former debtors’ workshops to create a new Northern estates office at Lancaster Castle.

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New Tenants Move Into West Blansby Farm

A new young farming family has been awarded the tenancy of West Blansby Farm on the Pickering Estate in Yorkshire.

Chris Timm is a farmer’s son and has previously farmed across a number of tenancies around Appleton Roebuck near York. Now, he and his wife Lisa have consolidated their business to a single Duchy farm spread over 284 acres to the north of Pickering.

Chris and Lisa have built up a successful business over the last 10 years, focusing on producing quality pedigree stock and environmental sustainability. They currently own flocks of Charollais, Beltex and Suffolk ewes and a herd of Aberdeen Angus suckler cows along with commercial suckler cows and store lambs, all of which are now relocating to West Blansby.

Commenting on the move Chris said: “With three young children at home a comfortable family home was as important to us as the quality and acreage of the land on the farm. This move to West Blansby has allowed us to consolidate our business in a single tenancy in a beautiful spot on the outskirts of Pickering. We are looking forward to putting down roots here and making this our home.”

Duchy Head of Rural Christopher Sparrow welcomed Chris and his family to the Pickering Estate: “We are always keen to help young farmers who are building successful businesses and who need more space as well as a longer term tenancy to allow them to invest in their businesses and indeed the holding. The Duchy seeks to partner with its farming tenants, working with them to look after the land, introduce new farming methodologies and encourage best practice, particularly with regard to improving soil health and enhancing biodiversity. We are delighted that Chris, Lisa and their children have chosen to make their home within the Duchy and have every confidence that their business will continue to thrive in the months and years ahead.”

West Blansby is a 284-acre holding which includes a 4-bedroomed farmhouse, along with a range of traditional and modern farm buildings. The Pickering Estate, which today covers some 800 hectares, is one of the original assets of the Duchy having been part of the ancient inheritance in 1267.

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