Lancashire Witch Trials 400th Anniversary

13th August 2012

To mark the 400th anniversary of the trials of the Lancashire witches this month, The Duchy of Lancaster will be opening the infamous Witches’ dungeon at Lancaster Castle to the public.

Built in around 1325, the dungeon is located in the Witches’ Tower, which is located on the former prison side of Lancaster Castle. The Tower contains a well and the vaulted stone-flagged underground dungeon where it is believed that up to 20 of the accused witches were imprisoned prior to their trial in 1612. Given no independent legal advice, 10 were subsequently hanged on 20th August 1612 on the moor overlooking Lancaster.

Paul Clarke, CEO of the Duchy of Lancaster said: “The story of the Lancashire witches is renowned with people coming from all over the world to hear more about the trial at Lancaster Castle. The 400th anniversary presents a fantastic opportunity for us to help boost local tourism and reveal the inside of the Witches Tower, which hasn’t been opened to the public for decades. It will provide a further insight into an historic event that forms an important part of Lancashire’s history. Seeing the conditions that the accused had to endure is an experience that people won’t forget.”

People wishing to see inside the witches dungeon can do so at any time between 10:30am – 6:30pm on the 18th, 19th and 20th August as well as on the 25th, 26th and 27th August. Tickets will cost £2 per person and be available on a first come, first served basis in the cafe, which will be open in the prison. Each visit will be limited to 10 people per decent. Members of the public should be aware that the steps down to the dungeon are uneven and very steep, so anyone entering the area does so at their own risk 

From 18th – 20th and 25th- 27th August 2012, a tour of the former prison at Lancaster Castle will also be available for visitors. Run in partnership with the Lancashire County Council Museums Service, this will include parts of the castle not usually open to the public, such as the inside of the female penitentiary, the outside of the keep and the twin-towered John O’ Gaunt Gatehouse. 

These tours will run at 10.30am, 11am, 11.30am, 12.30pm, 1pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 3pm, 3:30pm, 4pm, 4:30pm and 5:30pm. The cost is £9 for adults, £7 for children and concessions, and £22 for a family (two adults and up to two concessions/children). Tickets are available on a first come, first served basis and can be purchased from the Shire Hall complex at Lancaster Castle. 

PLEASE NOTE THAT DUE TO UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES EXTERNAL TOUR TIMES ON SUNDAY 26TH AUGUST WILL BE AT:10.30am, 11am, 11.30am, 12.30pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 3pm, 3:30pm, 4:30pm and 5:30pm


The chance to view inside the witches’ dungeon will also be available at the end of this tour for the additional charge of £2 per person with tickets on sale in the cafe in the former prison.

For the tour of the former prison, people are advised to come appropriately dressed and those with mobility issues to call Lancaster Castle in advance on 01524 64998; wheelchair access is possible to the Castle courtyard only for which there will be no charge. Please note that in the event of high winds the external tours will be cancelled.

Xplorer tickets are not valid for either the main external tour or the tour of the dungeon. 

Visitors wishing to attend the standard internal tour of the Shire Hall can do so at 12pm, 2pm, 3pm and 5pm. The prices for the standard internal tours are £5 for adults, £4 for concessions and children, and £14 for a family. 

Date(s) of event
Saturday 18th, Sunday 19th & Monday 20th August 2012 and Saturday 25th, Sunday 26th and Monday 27th August 2012.

Price: £9.00 (Adult); £7.00 (Concessions/Children); £22.00 (Family – 2 Adults and up to 2 Concessions/Children) THIS PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE THE VISIT TO THE WITCHES DUNGEON WHICH IS CHARGED SEPARATELY AT THE RATE OF £2.00 PER PERSON ONCE INSIDE THE FORMER PRISON.

duchy of lancaster