Tour opens up parts of Lancaster Castle 'unseen' for 50 years

Lancaster Castle
Image caption The Grade I-listed building closed as a prison in March 2011.

Previously closed off areas of Lancaster Castle are to be opened to the public for the first time in more than 50 years.

A tour will allow visitors to see the entrance to the dungeon where the Pendle witches were held in 1612.

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the trials, which led to ten people being hanged for witchcraft.

The former prison's courtyard will also be opened up, allowing views of the witches' tower above the dungeons.

The tour, being held over the Easter weekend, has been jointly organised by site owner, the Duchy of Lancaster, and Lancashire County Council.

'Fascinating insight'

Colin Penny, manager of the castle's museum, said the tour would allow visitors to see the castle from a new perspective.

"As the inner courtyard was previously part of the prison, it is surrounded by high walls so wasn't accessible to the public.

"Opening up this area provides visitors with a fantastic opportunity to see the castle's historic structures and prison buildings up close."

He added: "Even the walls provide a fascinating insight into history with some displaying graffiti produced by some of the many prisoners over the years."

Only part of the Grade I-listed building is currently open to the public. It closed as a prison in March 2011.

The Duchy took possession of the site from the Ministry of Justice at the start of this year.

The exact age of the castle is not known, but the oldest existing structure dates back to about 1150.

The tour will last about 75 minutes and take place from April 7 to April 9.

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