An exciting new phase of development is now underway at Lancaster Castle.

Please note that during this period there will be no permanent café facility available at the Castle and the ticket office will be relocated to A-Wing. Guided tours and events will continue as scheduled.

A Dark History

A glimpse into the history of Lancaster Castle and its use as a place of punishment offers a revealing insight into the nation's changing attitudes towards crime in general, as well as religious and cultural beliefs through the centuries.

The castle has been the scene of notable trials, scores of executions and has housed prisoners of various categories until as recently as 2011.

Our guided tours unlock the fascinating, often macabre heritage of this imposing, historically significant monument.

Crime & Punishment

If you've heard the name of Lancaster Castle mentioned in a 'crime and punishment' context, it may well have been in association with its most notorious period of history which saw the trial and subsequent executions of the 'Lancashire Witches' in the early 17th Century.

Our experienced and knowledgeable tour guides will reveal the intriguing background to the numerous notable incarcerations, the stories of nationally significant trials and details of the various penitentiaries that have been housed in this imposing building.

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Lancaster Castle has housed prisoners of all ages and for a variety of crimes over the centuries. Early dungeons can still be seen as part of the guided tour and there have been dedicated debtors' prison areas and a female penitentiary. HM Prison Service's category C prison vacated the castle in 2011

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Until 1800, condemned criminals at Lancaster were executed at a place called Gallows Hill, on the moors close to Williamson Park

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Lancashire Witch Trials

One of the most famous and dramatic events to take place in Lancashire occured almost 400 years ago in 1612, and has since formed the basis of novels, and radio and television programmes.

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Read our Castle Stories

duchy of lancaster