Access Statement for Lancaster Castle
Situated very close to the city centre, Lancaster Castle is still a working building. Public access to the castle is through the main gatehouse situated at the front of the building, although large parts of the former HMP Lancaster Castle are at present inaccessible. Entry to the courtyard area is free of charge, but access to most of the buildings is by guided tour only. Tours run regularly throughout the day between 10:00 and 16:00 in summer and between 10:30 and 15:15 in 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 day of week that you visit.
The interiors of two buildings can currently be accessed without joining a tour; A Wing – one of the former-prison blocks – and a small exhibition room underneath the clock tower in the courtyard.
Wheelchair access is severely limited. A-wing and the exhibition room underneath the clock tower are wheelchair accessible, as is the courtyard, and there is an interactive kiosk situated in the gift shop (located in A-Wing) for anyone unable to take part in a 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.
The area immediately outside the gatehouse is cobbled, but it is sometimes possible for vehicles to drop off/pick up people with mobility problems inside the castle perimeter. It should be emphasised, however, that this is not always possible and can only be offered by prior arrangement. Vehicles cannot be left inside the perimeter of the walls. 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).
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, access to the gatehouse involves walking around the walls keeping the castle on your left (circumnavigating the castle clockwise is not advised due to building work which currently blocks most of that route). The route from car park to gatehouse involves walking along a tarmacked path which leads to the cobbled area immediately outside the gatehouse. There is a step up onto the path and a step down at the other end. The width of the gatehouse is 3 metres 30 centimetres (approx. 11 feet).
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, part-way round the tour route, 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 on site.
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.
A disabled toilet is available on site, it is located in a temporary building in the castle courtyard. Visitors wishing to use this toilet must request a key from on-site security. There are public toilets in the same area and also on the first floor of the Shire Hall complex (only accessible on the guided tour). The toilets are lit by low energy bulbs or fluorescent tubes. The floors are vinyl and the taps are a mixture of standard fittings, push fittings and lever fittings. Baby changing facilities are located in the disabled toilet.
Visitors are alerted to any emergency within the Shire Hall complex via both audible sounders and flashing lights.
A-Wing, a former prison block (used until 2011), currently acts as the visitor reception area. It contains a ticket desk, gift shop and exhibition space with displays and objects about the history of prisons in England.
There is sufficient space between fixtures and fittings in the shop and exhibition space for wheelchair and pushchair access around the floor area, and staff are happy to assist where possible. There is occasional low-level background music, there are no sound effects. Merchandise in the shop is displayed on a variety of fixtures and fittings, including spinners, tables, islands, and bookshelves.
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.