Lancaster Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by mickeyboy07
  • Things to Do
    by mickeyboy07
  • Things to Do
    by mickeyboy07

Most Recent Things to Do in Lancaster

  • Drever's Profile Photo

    Lancaster Castle

    by Drever Written Mar 28, 2014
    View of Lancaster Castle
    2 more images

    We have a surplus of castles in the UK. They are a draw for peoples with a shorter history. I confess I am not immune to their proud and noble bearing either so Lancaster Castle received a visit. We tried the wrong door and a warden us that only long staying guests used that door– a prison!

    Standing proudly on its hilltop with its battlements and towers silhouetted against the sky, Lancaster Castle dominates the surrounding town of Lancaster. Here a succession of military fortifications dating back to a Roman fort in AD79 times has provided security against attack. Each succeeding fortification has gained in strength. In 1093 the Norman Baron, Roger of Poitou built a small motte and bailey castle here. Fifty years later a large stone Keep replaced it - the oldest part of the present Castle. It now forms part of HM Prison Lancaster Castle.

    The Castle also houses a Crown Court. In former times it handed down more death sentences than any other in the UK. Executions from the early 19th century took place outside the castle walls, often with crowds of more than 5000 gathering to witness the spectacle. Before that period, the escorted condemned make their way through the town via a hostelry to have a last drink with family and friends before continuing to Gallows Hill. Many hundreds of others received sentences of Transportation to Australia.

    The trials here of the Pendle witches in 1612 are among the most famous witch trials in English history. The 12 accused stood charged with the murders of 10 people by witchcraft. One died in the dungeon like cells, leaving 11, nine women and two men, to go to trial. Not allowed legal aid, nor witnesses to speak on their behalf, it is hardly surprising that 10 received guilty verdicts and suffered executed by hanging.

    Until the Bankruptcy Act of 1866, Lancaster Castle housed between 300 and 400 debtors at any one time. In return the use of their labour within the prison they received, 3ozs bread and 4ozs oatmeal daily, 1oz salt and 10lb potatoes weekly. A novel use of prisoner power was the use of two tread wheels - one to drive 23 calico looms and one to draw water from the well. The first one dated from 1822.

    Our tour of the castle took us into the Shire Hall. Here a display of over 650 shields, bearing the arms of every English monarch from Richard The Lionheart onward and the Constables of Lancaster Castle and the High Sheriffs of Lancashire line the walls. On excavating for the foundations for this hall in the 18th century they discovered a Roman Centurian's altar dating from the earliest forts here.

    In Hadrian's Tower is a Scolds Bridle - a metal cage to fit over the head and a vicious bit to hold down the tongue. A few hours in the bridle discouraged women who had spread malicious gossip or nagged their husbands too much in public from doing it in future. Just as cruel was the Lunatic Chair in the room. These used to restrain people imprisoned in the County Lunatic Asylum when it formed part of the castle. Five straps secured the patient in the chair and these tightened when the occupant struggled against them.

    In the Courtroom is a Branding Iron with the letter ’M’ engraved in the top, which stands for ’Malefactor’. It served until 1811 for permanently branding the left-hand in certain cases.

    The Drop Room used today as the Deliberation Room for Crown Court juries, was originally the final step on the road to the gallows for over 200 people sentenced to death. The room contains an example of the Noose used in the short drop, which resulted in the victim's death by strangulation. Also present is the Hanging Bell, which tolled for executions.

    Not all is doom and gloom in the castle for over the past six years it has played host to various theatrical and musical events. The plays have ranged from promenade productions of Shakespeare to a new play by a local author on the Pendle Witch Trials of 1612. Musically it has hosted performances ranging from Mozart to a recital played on traditional medieval instruments.

    Related to:
    • Castles and Palaces

    Was this review helpful?

  • mickeyboy07's Profile Photo

    River Lune

    by mickeyboy07 Written Feb 25, 2013

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    2 more images

    The River is formed at Wath,in the parish of 'Ravenstonedale',Cumbria,at the confluence of 'Sandwath Beck' and 'Weasdale Beck'.It then passes the remnants of a Roman Fort near 'Low Borrowbridge' and flows through south Cumbria meeting the 'Irish Sea' at 'Plover Scar' Lancaster.
    Bridges over the Lune include:Devils Bridge near 'Kirkby Lonsdale' and Millenium Bridge in 'Lancaster'.
    Lancaster(and hence Lancashire) is named after the Lune,the name of the ancient 'Hundred of Lonsdale' is also derived from the river.The river is a county Biological Heritage Site.

    Related to:
    • Sailing and Boating
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Hiking and Walking

    Was this review helpful?

  • mickeyboy07's Profile Photo

    Lancaster Priory

    by mickeyboy07 Written Feb 24, 2013
    4 more images

    Lancaster Priory,formely St.Mary's Church,is the Parish Church of Lancaster.It is located near the Castle and has been designated a Grade I listed building by English Heritage.An active Anglican Church in the deanery of Lancaster,its benefice is combined with that of St.John and St.Anne.It is likely that a Roman structure excisted on the site around the year 200,a Saxon Church is also thought to have stood here.In 1094 'Roger de Poitou' established a priory dedicated to St.Mary.In 1539 the Catholic institution was abolished by 'Henry VIII' and the following year the priory became a Parish Church.In the late 19th and early 20th centuries local architects 'Austin and Paley' restrored lots of areas and sections of the church many that can still be seen today.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • mickeyboy07's Profile Photo

    Cathedral of St.Peter

    by mickeyboy07 Written Feb 24, 2013
    4 more images

    Sometimes called Cathedral of St.Peter or just Lancaster Cathedral,a Roman Catholic Parish Church until 1924,when it was elevated to the status of a Cathedral.It started as a mission church in 1798,and the present church was built on a different site in 1857-59.Designed by 'E.G.Paley' in the Gothic Revival style.In 1901 a Baptistry was added by Austin and Paley and the east end was reordered in 1995 by 'Francis Roberts'.The Cathedral is in active use arranging services,concerts and other events and is open to visitors.The building has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade II listed building.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • mickeyboy07's Profile Photo

    Roman Bath House

    by mickeyboy07 Written Sep 24, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    2 more images

    Discovered and excavated in 1973-4 in Vicarage field in Lancaster.It formed one end of a large courtyard house,probably the home of a Roman Official.It was demolished in about 340AD to make way for a new and massive stone fort.Part of the fort wall known as 'Wery Wall' can also be seen.The site is fenced off by iron railings but is clearly visible and free of charge.
    There is a foot path that runs behind the castle and priory that leads you to Vicerage Field.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Archeology

    Was this review helpful?

  • mickeyboy07's Profile Photo

    Lancaster Castle

    by mickeyboy07 Written Sep 24, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    3 more images

    A medieval castle located in Lancaster centre.Its early history is unclear,but may have been founded in the 11th century on the site of a Roman Fort overlooking a crossing of the River Lune.In 1164,the Honour of Lancaster,including the castle,came under Royal control.In 1332 and 1339 the Scots invaded England,progressing as far as Lancaster and damaging the castle.It was not to see military action again until the English Civil War in 1643.The castle was first used as a prison in 1196 although this apsect became more important during the Civil War.The castle buildings are owned by Lancashire County Council,which leases a major part of the structure to the Ministry of Justice who operate a Crown Court in part of the building.The site is owned by the Duchy of Lancaster.today the castle still acts as a prison for young offenders and a remand centre,this began in March 1993.There are tours of most of the castle 7 days a week from 10am till 5pm.
    Prices:Adults-£5,Family of four-£14.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • mickeyboy07's Profile Photo

    Penny's Hospital

    by mickeyboy07 Written Sep 24, 2012
    2 more images

    Penny's Hospital Almhouses are an historic feature of Lancaster,situated in King st opposite the indoor market.They were founded by 'William Penny' in 1720 for twelve old people,with a chapel at the end of the courtyard.In 1974 they were restored and modernised and now serve their original purpose again.Its free to enter the courtyard and have a look around just dont make too much noise.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Religious Travel
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • spidermiss's Profile Photo

    Millennium Bridge

    by spidermiss Updated Mar 12, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Millennium Bridge, Lancaster
    2 more images

    The Millennium Bridge was built and opened over Lancaster's River Lune. The bridge serves a purpose for pedestrians and cyclists to cross the river without facing the heavy traffic congestion on the Greyhound and Skerton Bridges. The bridge was designed by Whitby Bird architects.

    There is an environmental aspect about the bridge. Cyclists/Walkers are able to cycle/walk traffic free from Lancaster to Morecambe via riverside paths and the bridge is a vital link in the National Cycle Network.

    There is further information about the Millennium Bridge on this link.

    Related to:
    • Cycling
    • Photography
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • spidermiss's Profile Photo

    Queen Victoria Statue & Dalton Square

    by spidermiss Updated Mar 12, 2012
    Queen Victoria Statue, Dalton Square, Lancaster
    3 more images

    Lord Ashton gave the Queen Victoria Statue as a gift to Lancaster. The statue was built in 1906 by Herbert Hampton and is situated in Dalton Square in front of the present Town Hall. On the statue there are four panels which feature famous Victorians who were celebrated for their achievements and also a tribute of the James Williamson, Lord Ashton's father who was a very successful business man.

    Dalton Square contains of formal gardens and the square was laid out by the man of the same name in the late 18th Century.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Photography
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • spidermiss's Profile Photo

    Lancaster Town Hall

    by spidermiss Updated Mar 5, 2012
    Lancaster Town Hall
    1 more image

    Lord Ashton, a local businessman, opened Lancaster Town Hall in December 1909. This building replaced the building at Market which is now the City Museum. Lord Ashton's wealth came from inheriting his father's successful Oil Cloth and Lineleum known as the 'Williamsons'.

    E.W Mountfield designed the Town Hall and also had designed Sheffield's Town Hall and The Old Bailey and it took three years for the building to be completed. The Town Hall consists of the council chamber, banqueting hall, Ashton Hall (for holding events) and a former magistrates court and Police cells which were last used in 1985.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Photography
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • spidermiss's Profile Photo

    Lancaster Priory (Priory Church of St Mary)

    by spidermiss Updated Mar 5, 2012
    Lancaster Priory (Priory Church of St Mary)
    1 more image

    The Anglican Priory is adjacent to the Castle. The history of the Priory and site goes back to the Roman times on evidence of Roman fortifications and worship at the site began around 1094.

    I didn't look inside the Priory because of a lack of time but do check out further information about the its interior on its website. On a future visit to Lancaster I'll plan to have a look inside.

    The Priory has a coffee shop which opens on Monday to Saturday between Easter to October each year.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • spidermiss's Profile Photo

    St George's Quay

    by spidermiss Updated Mar 5, 2012
    River Lune and St George's Quay, Lancaster
    1 more image

    The majority of buildings on St George's Quay were built during the 18th century when port activity was at its height and poignantly was the 4th important port for the UK's involvement in the Atlantic Slave Trade. One of the most important buildings on the Quay is the Custom House which was designed by Richard Gillow and built in 1764 by the city's Port Commission. The adjacent warehouse was built in the late 18th Century. Both the former Custom House and Warehouse house the Lancaster Maritime Museum.

    Most of the buildings are now private accommodation with some bars.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • spidermiss's Profile Photo

    Lancaster Castle

    by spidermiss Updated Mar 4, 2012
    Doors of the Former Prison at Lancaster Castle
    4 more images

    Visiting Lancaster Castle (Known as Shire Hall) was my first stop on my day's itinerary and I was able to get onto a guided tour straightaway. The castle was founded in 1093 by Roder de Poitou and the castle developed from humble fort to a significant building that boasts over a 1000 year history!

    The Guided Tour

    The guide took us first to the Shire Hall with its stunning gothic revival architecture and the country's largest display of coat or arm shields on view! It's originally and still functions as a Civic County and used as a venue for staging theatre and musical productions.

    We then visited Hadrian's Tower which is one of the towers forming the original castle's defensive structure - which goes back to the days of John O'Gaunt and the Romans. There are a display of shackles, manacles and neck irons and short striding chains. Some of these were used to transport convicts to Australia.

    Next stop were the new cells where former prisoners were housed in conditions I couldn't imagine! We were locked in a cell for a few seconds to imagine what it could had been liked! We proceeded to the Crown Court, which still serves today as a court and is the oldest criminal court in the country; then onto the Grand Jury Room to admire Gillow furniture; and eventually to the Drop Room where most of the prisoners' fates were carried out by hanging.

    We learnt so much about Lancaster's overall rich history with the likes of Duke of Lancaster, the Pendle Witches trial in 1612, the prisoners themselves and local dignitaries who contributed towards shaping the historic city over the centuries.

    I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and highly recommend it!

    The cost of the guided tour is 5 gbp (March 2012) and please check out the website for further details. There are daily tours and tours during the week are subject to court sittings. Please note taking of photos is strictly forbidden because it's illegal to take photos in UK court buildings.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Museum Visits

    Was this review helpful?

  • spidermiss's Profile Photo

    Lancaster Maritime Museum

    by spidermiss Updated Mar 4, 2012
    Lancaster Maritime Museum
    4 more images

    I spent a couple of hours at this wonderful museum. Lancaster Maritime Museum displays interesting exhibits of Lancaster's and Morecambe Bay's maritime past.

    The museum is housed in a former Custom House and a five-story warehouse which was built by Richard Gillow in 1764 and situated on St George's Quay, a former hub for the successful overseas in the late 18th Century.

    Here are some of the museum highlights:

    Custom House
    History of Lancaster's maritime history and how the port activity thrived and declined.
    Exhibits of shipbuilding activity that was at its height during the 1860s and 1870s.
    Fishing industry (including shrimping, muselling and cockling).
    Life Story about the life of a fisherman and his family.

    I especially enjoyed The Transatlantic Slavery Gallery and how Lancaster played a role in supporting this dark past. I watched a DVD about human trafficking and learnt about Sambo's grave.

    The Warehouse
    Warehouse activity.
    Morecambe Bay and how the area attracted industry and tourism.
    Lancaster Canal, Sand Crossings and the arrival of the railways.

    The highlight of the visit was watching a DVD presentation about the history of the Port of Lancaster and Morecambe Bay.

    I had a coffee at the Maritime Cafe and found drinks reasonably priced.

    It's opened daily from 12.30 am to 4.00pm (Easter to October 11.00 am to 5.00 pm) and it's 3.00 gbp (March 2012) with concessions available. If you're a local resident it's free on proof of address.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Butterfly House

    by MartinSelway Updated Apr 4, 2011

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Butterfly House, Williamson Park

    The Butterfly House is set within Williamson Park. There is a charge for entry, and although we have never been tempted in, the place is very popular with visitors. The Butterfly House is adjacent to the Cafe and gift shop.

    "Live exotic butterflies fluttering and feeding amidst the flowers, trees and vines in the tropical rain forest housed in the former Palm House. Walk amongst some of the world¹s most beautiful species, including brilliant swallowtails, and cleverly camouflaged Owl butterflies within a natural habitat. The pupae of new butterflies can be seen in a special display case and you may even see a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis!"

    The park is open throughout the year except for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year¹s Day. 10am - 5pm April to September, 10am - 4pm October - March.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: Lancaster

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

63 travelers online now

Comments

Lancaster Things to Do

Reviews and photos of Lancaster things to do posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Lancaster sightseeing.

View all Lancaster hotels