Diamond Jubilee Weekend

25th May 2012

New area of the former prison to form part of external tour

The Duchy of Lancaster has confirmed that it will be running a special tour of Lancaster Castle to coincide with the Diamond Jubilee celebrations from 2nd – 5th June 2012.

In partnership with the Lancashire County Council Museums Service, the Duchy has announced that the tour will enable visitors to see inside the female penitentiary for the first time. Built in 1821, this Panopticon prison tower was built by Joseph Gandy and designed to allow people to observe the inmates without them knowing they were being watched. The cells were home to female prisoners for many years and later used to house male prisoners right up until the prison closed in 2011.

Similar to the tour organised over Easter, visitors will also be able to see external elements of the Castle including the outside of the witches’ tower and the doorway into the underground dungeons that housed the Lancashire Witches prior to their trial in 1612. In addition, people will be able to walk around the outside of the Keep, a four-storey tower, which is the largest medieval building in the castle as well as the impressive twin-towered John O’ Gaunt Gatehouse.

Paul Clarke, CEO of the Duchy of Lancaster said: “When we first unveiled previously unseen areas of the former prison at Easter, the tour proved a huge success with around 1,300 visitors from both the UK and abroad. There was so much interest in the Castle that we wanted to offer a similar experience, but with a little extra to mark the Jubilee celebrations.

“This tour presents another fantastic opportunity to view some of the building’s most intriguing structures in closer detail, as well as to access the inside of a prison cell which hasn’t been opened to the public for over 60 years.”

The new tour is one of a number of events taking place at Lancaster Castle to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee. As part of the Lancaster Unlocked festival, the Freemen of Gwent will be setting up a living history camp and offering displays of medieval crafts, clothing, and armour.

The tour will run on 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th June and leave every half an hour between 10.30am and 5.30pm, except at 11.30am, 2pm, 4pm and 5pm which will be slots for the standard tours of the Shire Hall.

Tickets are available on a first come, first served basis and can be purchased from the Shire Hall complex at Lancaster Castle. Prices for the special tour are £9 for adults, £7 for concessions and children and £22 for a family ticket (which includes entry for two standard ticket holders and up to two concessions). Xplorer tickets are not valid for this special tour.

duchy of lancaster