Lancaster Castle

Lancaster Castle

Infobox HM Prison
name = HMP Lancaster Castle

size = 200px
caption =
opened = 1196
type = Adult Male/Category C
figures = 238 (August 2008)
location = Lancaster, Lancashire
governor = Peter Francis
prisonid = 311

Lancaster Castle is a castle and a prison in Lancaster, Lancashire, England. (gbmapping|SD473620)

Its origins lie in Roman times. The castle and priory were founded by Roger of Poitou at the end of the eleventh century, with part of the Norman keep surviving to this day. The most substantial medieval remnant was largely the result of rebuilding during the fourteenth century, during the time of John of Gaunt, leading to the castle also being known as John O'Gaunt's castle.

During the 12th century the castle was supposed to have been occupied temporarily by the Scots under David I. The Scots possession of the castle may be the reasoning for its conversion from a motte and bailey castle into one of a stone keep during the occupation, an attempt to strengthen the Scots' claims to lands above the river Ribble.

The castle has been a prison since at least 1196 and is now partly open to the public. The notorious Pendle Witches trial took place here, in the time of Thomas Covell, the Governor of the Castle and Prison. The castle survived an attack by Robert Bruce and more than one royalist attack during the English civil war.

The Shire Hall, which was built in 1802 to a design by Thomas Harrison, has displays of heraldic shields, and the Grand Jury room has a collection of Gillow furniture. There is also a Crown Court and some medieval dungeons.

The castle was likned on to Edmund Crouchback, 1st Earl of Lancaster from Henry III in 1267, and from this the castle is part of the Duchy of Lancaster, currently owned by Queen Elizabeth II.

In the United States, the Lancaster County Prison in Lancaster, Pennsylvania was built as an almost exact replica of Lancaster Castle.

Local residents of Lancaster have questioned the continued use of the castle as an HM Prison, on the grounds that this denies access to Lancashire's foremost ancient monument. Access to the keep, towers, battlements and dungeons is currently denied to visitors.The castle does host and organise events for the public. Function Factory Theatre [] appear there regularly to perform their play "Cold Light Singing" which is based on the true story of the Pendle Witches.

Judicial History

Due to the unique situation of having a prison and courthouse in the same building, it has been hosted for cases where there was a perceived risk of the prisoners being sprung on the journey from court to prison, for example the Birmingham Six.

The Castle was also the site of the most public hanging outside London.Fact|date=December 2007

ee also

*Castles in England

External links


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