Access Statement for Lancaster Castle
This access statement does not contain personal opinions as to our suitability for those with access needs, but aims to accurately describe the facilities and services that we offer all our visitors.
This access statement can be provided in large print on request.
Situated very close to the City centre, Lancaster Castle is still a working building. Public access for the guided tours is through the Shire Hall entrance situated at the rear of the building (opposite the Priory Church). Tours run regularly throughout the day between 10:00 and 15:45 in summer and on weekends, and between 10:30 and 15:15 on weekdays in the winter (specific tour times vary and are subject to change).
The Crown Court, which forms part of the guided tour, is an active courthouse, and whilst tours always take place the number of rooms available can be restricted by court activity. Tour times also vary according to the time of year and the day of the week that you visit.
Wheelchair access is severely limited, and there is an interactive kiosk situated in the gift shop (located in the Shire Hall lobby) for anyone unable to take part in a guided tour. This includes a virtual tour with 360 degree views of the rooms themselves. Unfortunately, the tour route itself is not wheelchair accessible.
Registered carers are admitted to the tour free of charge.
Access throughout the site (and thus on the tour itself) is via uneven floor surfaces. The tour route has changing floor levels and flights of stairs throughout. Tours last approximately 60 minutes. Information sheets can be provided for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and these are also available in a number of foreign languages for people whose first language is not English (at present French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Maltese, Japanese, Greek and Chinese).
The tours are suitable for families and we provide a ‘bear hunt’ activity for younger children to do whilst on the guided tour.
Our evacuation procedures are displayed prominently and all staff are familiar with the fire exits and muster points. The tour guides will ensure that all visitors safely evacuate the building if there is any call for them to do so.
Lancaster Castle is located in the centre of the city and is sign-posted from junctions 33 and 34 of the M6 motorway.
The Castle is situated at the top of a hill, and so all pedestrian routes to the building are via a steep climb. The Castle is a five-minute walk from the railway station; the bus station is a ten to fifteen-minute walk.
The streets surrounding the Castle are a mixture of paving flags, cobbles, and tarmac, and are uneven in places
Arrival & Car Parking Facilities
There is a car park on site, situated at the rear of the Castle, but on most weekdays it is primarily intended for people attending the crown court. However, we will always try to accommodate visitors with mobility problems; limited-mobility visitors are strongly recommended to contact us in advance with regard to car parking. There are also ‘pay and display’ spaces around the Castle perimeter, and other car parks are available within walking distance. ‘Blue badge’ holders should consult Lancaster City Council policies in regard to the use of blue badges in pay and display spaces (Tel. 01524 582000).
The aforementioned car park is lit at night by streetlight-style lamps. It is primarily tarmac and generally level, with some cobbles on the lower part of the approach to it. From the car park, it is a short distance to the Shire Hall entrance – the route is tarmacked, with flagstones at the entrance between a small area of cobbles. The other walkways within the Castle grounds leading to the Shire Hall entrance are mostly flagged with some tarmac. The width of the Shire Hall entrance is approximately 94cm (37″).
The Tour Route
The tour takes in a number of different levels within the building which require the ascent and descent of short flights of stairs. The castle is unsuitable for buggies, prams and wheelchairs. Buggies, prams, etc. can be left in a designated spot prior to the start of the tour at the owner’s risk. Please ask a member of staff before the tour if you would like to do this.
Baggage and personal belongings cannot be stored anywhere on site at any time, including with buggies, prams or wheelchairs.
There is seating in most of the rooms viewed on the tour. Some of the rooms visited during the guided tour have a limited number of illustrated display boards which are written in large print supplemented by the use of illustrations and photographs. The same is true for the information panels in A-Wing.
Floor surfaces are a mixture of flagstone, cobbles, tarmac, concrete, wood, vinyl, and short-pile carpeted areas. Floor surfaces are uneven throughout the building.
Areas are well lit, with a variety of bulbs/tubes used, including fluorescent, low energy bulbs, LEDs, fibre optics, spotlights and floodlighting.
Visitors are alerted to any emergency within the Shire Hall complex via both audible sounders and flashing lights.
There are no disabled conveniences in the Shire Hall complex, although there are disabled facilities in the former prison side of the building (accessed through the gatehouse). There are public toilets (for visitors on tours only) on the first floor of the Shire Hall complex; access to these toilets is limited and requires a member of staff to accompany users (who are not on tours) through the building upon request. There are rare occasions when it is not possible for visitors in the gift shop to access these toilets or when there may be a slight delay in our being able to arrange access to them. Prospective visitors are advised to contact the castle on 01524 64998 if limited access to toilets might be problematic and to discuss specific arrangements prior to a planned visit.
There are also public toilets in the former prison side of the building (accessed through the gatehouse).
The toilets in the Shire Hall complex are lit by low energy bulbs or fluorescent tubes. The floors are vinyl and the taps are a mixture of standard fittings and push fittings. There are no baby changing facilities in the Shire Hall complex, although these are available in the former prison side of the building (accessed through the gatehouse).
The Shire Hall Lobby
The Shire Hall lobby currently acts as the reception area for all guided tours. It contains a ticket desk and gift shop. Visitors not wishing to take the guided tour, but wanting to access the courtyard and café should enter the building through the gatehouse at the front of the Castle.
There is sufficient space between fixtures and fittings in the shop for wheelchair and pushchair access around the floor area, and staff are happy to assist where possible. Merchandise in the shop is displayed on a variety of fixtures and fittings, including spinners, tables, islands, and bookshelves.
A Wing, in the former prison, remains part of the guided tour. Here there is a small exhibition about prison life consisting of panels and objects, with some use of sound effects. Access to A Wing is across the Castle courtyard.
We are a member of the Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Scheme (VAQAS).
All Lancashire County Council staff are trained in emergency evacuation procedures and a safety announcement is made prior to the start of all tours.
All Lancashire County Council staff also receive relevant equality and diversity training.
Assistance dogs are welcome, and we can provide water if required.
Colin Penny, Museum Manager
Lancaster Castle Museum
The Shire Hall