Monday, 22 April 2013

Lancaster Castle

Lancaster Castle is believed to have been built in the 11th Century on the site of a Roman fort overlooking the crossing of the River Lune.
The castle was first used as a prison in 1196. It was also used for the infamous trial of the Pendle Witches in 1612. The castle buildings are owned by Lancashire County Council, whilst the site is owned by the Duchy Of Lancaster.  
Between 1931 and 1937 the castle was used by the County Council to train police officers. Lancaster was once again designated for use as a prison from 1954 onwards when the council leased the castle to the Home Office. The last Assizes were held at Lancaster in 1972. As the court and prison were so close, and contained within the castle walls, Lancaster was used for high-security trials.
The castle formally opened as a prison in 1955, becoming a prison for male inmates, and a Crown Court. 
In July 2010 the Ministry of Justice announced it was intending to close the prison., stating it was outdated and costly. The prison closure was confirmed for March 2011.
The castle will continue to be leased by the Ministry of Justice until 2014, when the crown court is expected to be relocated.[
Closure of the prison will eventually allow the castle to be opened to visitors and tourists as a permanent attraction. 
While access to the keep, towers, battlements and dungeons is currently denied to visitors, the castle operates limited guided tours seven days a week.

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