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 to access any buildings it is necessary to take a guided tour, and these run regularly throughout the day between 10.00am and 4.00pm. The Shire Hall, which forms part of the guided tour, is used on most weekdays as a crown court, and whilst tours always take place they can be restricted by court activity.
Wheelchair access is severely limited. The reception area, shop and cafe are accessible, as is the courtyard, and there is an interactive kiosk situated in the shop for anyone unable to take part in a tour. This includes a virtual tour with 360 degree views of the rooms themselves.
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, though, 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 to the remainder of the building (and thus the tour itself) is via uneven floor surfaces, with changing levels; there are also further flights of stairs throughout the 75 minute tour. Information sheets are 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 routes to the building are uphill and fairly steep in places. 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 where possible, especially those with mobility problems; visitors are strongly recommended to contact us in advance with regard to car parking. When the court is not sitting it is usually possible to park whilst visiting either the castle or the adjacent Priory Church. There are also Pay and Display spaces around the castle perimeter, and other car parks are available within walking distance should parking prove impossible on site. The car park is lit at night by streetlight-type lamps.
The car park 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 either on your left or right. In the case of the former, this involves walking along a tarmaced 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. When keeping the castle on your right, walk down the hill using the flagged path adjacent to the walls, walk through the castle staff car park (the public are not permitted to park here), and this leads to the cobbled area immediately outside the gatehouse. The width of the gatehouse is 3 metres 30 centimetres (approx. 11 feet).
Entry to the shop is via a ramp which measures 93cm across at its narrowest point. This leads to a door which is 90cm wide. The shop and cafe area are flat and accessible, and the flooring is wooden laminate. Lighting is provided by flourescent tubes. There are no lifts at Lancaster Castle.
Entry is by guided tour only, so please inform your guide or any of the staff on duty if you have any special requirements. We have a tour script for those with hearing difficulties in addition to a large print version. A pad and pen can be provided if required. Registered carers are admitted free of charge.
Entry to the guided tour is at ground floor level, but the tour takes in a number of different levels within the building which require the ascent and descent of stairs, including a short spiral staircase. The castle is unsuitable for buggies or prams but these can be left (at the owner’s risk) in an enclosed area, please enquire for details.
• Opening hours are 9.30am-5:00pm with tours between 10.00am and 4.00pm
There is seating in most of the rooms viewed on the tour, with the exception of the Grand Jury Room. 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
Floor surfaces are a mixture of flagstone, cobbles, tarmac, concrete, wood and short-pile carpeted areas.
Areas are well lit, with a variety of bulbs/tubes used, including fluorescent, low energy bulbs, LED’s, fibre optics, spotlights and floodlighting.
A disabled toilet is available on site and located adjacent to the shop, and there are public toilets in the same area, as well as on the first floor of the Shire Hall complex. The toilets are lit by low energy bulbs or flourescent tubes. The floors are vinyl or tile (former prison) and flagstones (ladies) and non-slip floor-covering (gents) (Shire Hall complex), and the taps are a mixtrue 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.
There is sufficient space between fixtures and fittings in both the shop and cafe for wheelchair and pushchair access around the floor area, and staff are happy to assist where possible. There is no background music. Merchandise in the shop is displayed on a variety of fixtures and fittings, including spinners, tables, 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