Lancaster Castle's beginnings date back to Roman times and from its commanding position on the hill overlooking the city of Lancaster and the River Lune, it stood as a bastion against the marauding forces of Picts and Scots.
Alex, Robert and Matthew in the dungeons
Lancaster Castle consists of many historic buildings encompassing the 12th Century Norman Keep, the 14th Century Witches' Tower and the 15th Century Gatehouse.
The earliest standing fabric of the Castle is found in the Norman Keep, built in about 1150.
The Castle is still a working court and prison and famous trials include the famous Lancashire Witches trial in 1612.
The Drop Room
The Drop Room, is where present day juries retire to consider their verdict, but used to be where convicted prisoners were prepared for execution. They would be led from the prison by the chaplain to be met by the hangman.
Prisoners would be led straight out on to the scaffold from the drop room - often watched by 5000 or 6000 people, including children. This corner came to be known as Hanging Corner.
The Jury Room
Above the Drop Room is the Grand Jury Room, where the jury would decide if it was necessary to go to trail. The Grand Jury Room contains a long table and chairs which were made 200 years ago by Gillow of Lancaster. Each chair has a different character carved on the top, and originally cost £3 each. This table and chairs has recently been valued at £250,000.
The dungeons at the Castle were rediscovered in 1931 and are very primitive and cramped. Prisoners would have only the light from a small window above the doors, which are made from solid oak.
Adjacent to the dungeons is Hadrian's Tower which was formerly used as the county’s lunatic asylum.
Handcuffs in Hadrian's Tower
Today Hadrian's Tower contains an exhibition of various instruments of torture and restraint, including a device for keeping women quiet!
Lancaster Castle is a beautiful Grade I listed building and there are frequent guided tours. For more information call the Castle on 01524 64998 or visit their website - www.lancastercastle.com
last updated: 05/03/2008 at 11:21
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