The Shire Hall, Lancaster Castle
Dominating the local skyline, Lancaster Castle is one of England’s best-preserved castles. The castle is owned by Her Majesty the Queen, 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. The Shire Hall complex is run by Lancashire County Museum Service and due to the working nature of the building access to the complex is by guided tour only. The 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. The Castle has a small collection of around 500 historic objects, fixtures and fittings which are predominantly on display in the Shire Hall complex.