Lancaster Castle

Lancaster Castle

Lancaster Castle

Dominating the local skyline, Lancaster Castle is one of England's best-preserved castles. The castle is owned by His Majesty the King, who is the Duke of Lancaster. The castle offers a glimpse into England’s often dark past through tours and special events enjoyed by modern day visitors of all ages. Until 2011 it was a fully functioning HM Prison and was also Europe’s longest-serving prison. 

Its courtrooms have witnessed many famous and infamous trials over the centuries, including those of the Lancashire Witches who were convicted and sentenced to death in 1612. Between 1800 and 1865 only the judges at the Old Bailey in London sentenced more people to death than those who sat at Lancaster Castle.

Photo gallery

Lancaster Castle

Plan your visit

Daily tours

Access to most of the castle interiors is by guided tour only and tours operate daily between the times detailed below.

Tour start times are subject to change or cancellation and visitors are advised to call ahead for information about specific tour times on the day of their visit.

Tours run between these times.

Monday to Friday between 10.30am and 3.45pm

Saturday and Sunday 10am and 3.45pm

The Police Museum (Thursday to Friday only), Witches' Exhibition and castle courtyards can be accessed without a guided tour. These parts of the castle are not administered by Lancashire County Council. 

Admission charges

  • Adults £8.00
  • Concessions £6.50  (over 65, people with a disability, unwaged and students)
  • Accompanied children £6.50  (under 5s free)
  • Family Ticket £ 22.50 – two full price and 2 concessions/children; 1 full price and 3 concessions/children; 4 concessions/children (one of whom must be over 16 years).
  • Carer accompanying a visitor with a disability - free
  • For large-group bookings or private tours please contact us to discuss your needs

Opening times

Please note that tour times can be subject to change. Private group bookings and other events/circumstances mean that tours do not always operate at the times listed below and the tour coverage may be altered (with the charge being reduced, as appropriate). Visitors are welcome to call the Castle on 01524 64998 to check tour times for a specific date.

From Monday 30 October 2023

Day Times
Monday 10:30am - 3:45pm
Tuesday 10:30am - 3:45pm
Wednesday 10:30am - 3:45pm
Thursday 10:30am - 3:45pm
Friday 10:30am - 3:45pm
Saturday 10am - 3:45pm
Sunday 10am - 3:45pm

How to find us

The Shire Hall
Lancaster Castle
Castle Parade

The castle is located near to Lancaster city centre and is sign-posted from junctions 33 and 34 of the M6 motorway.  The site is a five-minute walk from the railway station; the bus station is a ten to fifteen-minute walk. Plan your journey and view bus timetables for your area and train times (external site). Why not take advantage of our cheap bus offers to visit our museums? Find out more about cheap days out by bus.



Facilities, access and contact details


  • Free public access to the courtyard area
  • Car parking available for blue badge holders by prior arrangement, please contact the castle before your visit
  • Assistance dogs welcome
  • Part disabled access
  • Baby changing facilities
  • Cafe in the courtyard (external link). 


Lancaster Castle is located on top of a hill and that approaches from all directions are steep. The visitor entrance is the main gateway to the castle at the front of the building (the John O’Gaunt gate).

The tour route is not suitable for pushchairs or buggies. If your infant is able to walk, or you are able to carry your infant for the duration of the tour, there is a place part-way round the route where buggies can be left, on request, at your own risk. The tour route is also not suitable for wheelchairs. Visitors with limited mobility are asked to please call ahead to speak directly to our tour guides.

See the access statement (PDF 5.24 MB) for more detail or please ring us if you have any questions.

Contact us 

Tel: 01524 64998 


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Discover more of Lancashire's diverse history and visit one of our other Lancashire Museums. Which of our museums will you visit next?

Things to see and do

Hear the castle stories of those who have passed through its gates, from royal visitors, to witches and martyrs imprisoned here. Experience the chilling old cells and the Drop Room where the condemned were led to the gallows.

The Shire Hall houses a magnificent display of more than 650 heraldic shields. The Crown Court dock still has the branding iron which was used on 'malefactors' until 1811. Our usual guided tours also include some areas of the former prison.

Entry to the castle interiors which are open to the public is by guided tour only. 

Extensive conservation and restoration works have opened up the historic kitchen courtyard and access to the King’s Evidence and Male Felons Towers beyond the world-famous Well Tower in which the Lancashire Witches were incarcerated while awaiting trial. Part of the curtain wall has been lowered to restore the original sightlines to the Priory and a new covered cloister walk uncovered. A new teaching suite and gallery space have also been created together with a sweeping new piazza in the lower courtyard.

Here's what some of our visitors had to say:

"Excellent tour, great guide."

"Fantastic, very informative and thoroughly enjoyable."

"Fabulous tour."

"Best castle ever."


This highly decorative ten-sided room is Joseph Gandy’s masterpiece. Completed in 1802, its semi-circle of Gothic pillars carry not only the arches which support the timber ceiling over the main part of the court room but also the arches of the plaster vault over the surrounding aisle. Still used as a working courtroom on rare occasions, today the Shire Hall is also the centrepiece for one the UK’s finest displays of heraldic shields. 


Please note that most of Lancaster Castle's history has been associated with law and order and crime and punishment. These topics form a significant part of the guided tour and include information about the death penalty and hangings which took place at the castle.

If you've visited us, what was your favourite thing you learnt about the castle? Let us know by sharing your experiences on Twitter using #LancasterCastle and don't forget to tag in @LancsMuseums on Twitter and @LancsMuseums on Facebook.

What's on: events and exhibitions

Search for the latest events at Lancaster Castle. If there are no current events listed check back for new events soon. We look forward to seeing you.

Find events at Lancaster Castle

Previous events include theatrical and musical events and our annual 'Christmas at the castle' markets. 


We are happy to receive enquiries from schools throughout the year. Our guided tours offer students the opportunity the see one of the last working castles in the country, learn about the administration of the law through the last 1000 years, and experience for themselves what it meant to be imprisoned here. 

Find more information about our group visits.

Learn about the administration of the law through the last 1000 years and experience what it meant to be imprisoned here.


Museum loan boxes

Loan box example - brownie camera and case

Our museum loan boxes contain a wide range of historical artefacts, replica objects and useful resources loan boxes are a great way of bringing a little bit of the museum into your classroom.

Learn more about loan boxes.