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Places to Visit in Lancaster

The information presented on the Lancaster pages is based on the Lancaster City Centre Street Map and Guide 1999

Guided tours of historic Lancaster are available through the year. Contact the Tourist Information Centre on 01524 32878 for details.

LANCASTER CASTLE:
Castle Hill, Lancaster. Tel: 01524 64998. Website
This is one of the best preserved castles in the country. A Roman fort with a garrison of 500 horsemen once stood on the site of the present castle. Foundations of a Roman Bath House (3rd century), and Wery Wall (4th century), can still be seen nearby. Although Lancaster Castle has been altered throughout the centuries to suit the needs of its owners, the Lungess Tower built about 1200 still survives, as does the fifteenth century gatehouse which still retains an aura of impenetrability. The castle is owned by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in her role as Duke of Lancaster, and although much of it is currently used as a prison and courts, there is still a great deal open to the public. An impressive collection of heraldic shields is displayed in the beautiful vaulted Shire Hall. Hadrians Tower, the Grand Jury Room and Courts can all be seen on the guided tour. You can see the Drop Room (where condemned criminals were prepared for the gallows), and there is a collection of transportation chains and shackles on display. It is also possible to experience being locked in a pitch-black dungeon briefly sharing the fate of many unfortunates - like the famous Pendle Witches who were tried and condemned here, and executed nearby in 1612.
The guided tours are usually available between Easter and early November, but they may be affected by Court Sessions. Limited disabled access. Shop. Admission charge.

LANCASTER PRIORY AND PARISH CHURCH OF ST. MARY:
Castle Hill, Lancaster. Tel. 01524 65338. Website
The first church was built here by the Saxons around 600AD, and the remains of ornately carved stone crosses found on the site can still be seen. The present Church was founded in 1094 by Roger de Poitou, but the building as seen today was constructed between 1380-1430, and was inspired by John Of Gaunt. There is much of interest inside the Church, including exquisitely carved wooden choirstalls crafted in the fourteenth century, and the memorial chapel of the King's Own Royal Regiment, which was based in Lancaster from 1880.
Open all year. Guided tours are available. Gift shop and refectory (open Easter to October). Good disabled access.

LANCASTER CITY MUSEUM:
Market Square, Lancaster. Tel:. 01524 64637.
The Lancaster City Museum is housed in the former Town Hall and Sessions House, built in 1781. It contains permanent displays on the archaeology and social history of Lancaster, from the neolithic to the present. Of special interest is the Quernmore Burial. Changing exhibitions are held downstairs and feature local arts and crafts. The King's Own Royal Regimental Museum is also housed in the building.
Open all year except Sundays. Limited disabled access. Gift shop. Admission free.

ASHTON MEMORIAL & BUTTERFLY HOUSE AT WILLIAMSON PARK:
Entrances in Quernmore Road and Wyresdale Road.
Tel: 01524 33318. Website
Breathtaking views of Lancaster, Morecambe Bay, the Lake District, and sometimes even the Isle of Man can be had from this grand Edwardian folly. It is possibly the grandest folly in England, standing 500 feet above sea level. Inside there is the Williamson Gallery, which has changing exhibitions of work by local artists. Other attractions include the North West's leading tropical Butterfly House, a Free Flying Bird Enclosure, the Mini Beast House, and a conservation garden. The 40 acre parkland, with its combination of attractive gardens and leafy woodland, is a wonderful place to explore, and there is a children's playground.
The Promenades: Open-air theatre is held every summer in Williamson Park in the form of The Dukes' Promenades. In a unique and magical way to enjoy the theatre, the audience follows the action around the park. Tel: 01524 66645 for more information on the Promenade season.
Open all year. Limited disabled access. Refreshments. Shop. Admission charge to Butterfly House, Bird Enclosure and Mini-Beast House. Car Park. Bus Services 8, 27 and 147 stop near the entrance.

THE MARITIME MUSEUM:
St. George's Quay, Lancaster. Tel: 01524 64637.
Housed in buildings on St. George's Quay, which date from the eighteenth century when Lancaster was flourishing through its trade with the colonies. Inside the former Custom House the history of the Port of Lancaster and the local fishing industry is evocatively captured in award-winning reconstructions and displays. In the adjoining warehouse Lancaster Canal and the ecology of Morecambe Bay are explored.
Open daily all year. Good disabled access. Refreshments available. Shop. Admission charge (free to local people). Car parking.

THE MUSIC ROOM:
Sun Street, Lancaster. Tel: 01524 60658.
The building dates from about 1735, and is famous for its Baroque plasterwork depicting the nine Muses and twelve Roman Emperors.
Viewing is by prior arrangement only.

THE COTTAGE MUSEUM:
15 Castle Hill, Lancaster. Tel: 01524 64637.
Built in 1739, this cottage is furnished in the style of an artisan's home from 1820 to 1850.
Open from Easter to the end of September, afternoons only. Admission charge.

THE JUDGES' LODGINGS:
Church Street, Lancaster. Tel: 01524 32808. Website
Built as a town house for the Witch Baiter Thomas Covell, who hunted down, imprisoned and executed the Pendle Witches in 1612. It is reputed to be the oldest town house in Lancaster. From 1775 to 1975 it was used by Judges attending the Lancaster Assizes. The ground and first floors have been refurbished as a period town house. Most of the furniture is by Gillows of Lancaster, and there is an exhibition of the history and craftsmanship of the firm. The Museum of Childhood includes a full size Edwardian schoolroom, historic toys and dolls, some from the famous Barry Elder collections, and a gallery of dolls' houses.
Access for disabled visitors is difficult. Telephone for information and opening times. Shop. Admission charge.

THE COVELL CROSS:
Named after Thomas Covell, a former Keeper of the Castle, who owned the Judges Lodgings. Built in 1902 on the site of a more ancient cross it commemorates the coronation of Edward VII.

THE FRIENDS MEETING HOUSE:
Meeting House Lane, Lancaster. Tel: 01524 62971.
This building dates from 1708, but George Fox, founder of the Quakers, first preached in Lancaster in 1652. The congregation was so enraged by his words that he was stoned by them all the way down Church Street. Quakers have worshipped on this site since 1677.
Visit by arrangement with the Warden. Wheelchair access.

ST. PETER'S CATHEDRAL:
East Road, Lancaster. Tel: 01524 61860.
Lancaster's Roman Catholic Cathedral has recently undergone major renovations.
Open all year. Disabled access. Shop. Telephone for details of conducted tours.

ST. JOHN'S CHURCH:
Chapel Street, Lancaster. Tel: 01524 582383.
This was the Corporation Church. It has a magnificent Georgian interior, and is now mainly used for occasional concerts and recitals.
Open during concerts and by prior arrangement. Disabled access.

ASSEMBLY ROOMS AND PENNY'S ALMSHOUSES:
King Street, Lancaster.
The Assembly Rooms were used for social and fundraising events to provide money to support the adjoining Almshouses, built in 1720 and named after William Penny.

STOREY INSTITUTE:
Meeting House Lane (D3). Tel: 68121. This building is the venue for lectures, and has frequently changing exhibitions. Lancaster's main art gallery -- The Storey Gallery -- is located here.

ROMAN BATH HOUSE AND WERY WALL:
Vicarage Field, Lancaster.
Little remains of the Roman occupation in Lancaster, but the 3rd century Roman bath-house, which was part of a large courtyard building, and a small part of a 4th century fort wall can still be seen. They were discovered and excavated in 1973-4.
Open all year.

 

For further information about Lancaster, including a free visitor pack, please contact the Lancaster Tourist Information Centre.

 

 

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