Museum / Collection

The Shire Hall, Lancaster Castle
Address: The Shire Hall, Lancaster Castle, Castle Parade, Lancaster
01524 64998
Region or country:
England (North West)

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.

What can be found at the venue?:
Collection of artifacts, Historic building or site
Significant collections relating to regional crime and punishment organisation or to a particular individual:
HERALDRY DATABASE: The Shire Hall houses a splendid display of over 650 shields bearing the arms of every English monarch from Richard The Lionheart onward, as well as all the Constables of Lancaster Castle and the High Sheriffs of Lancashire (see link below).
Does the venue have an online collections catalogue?:
Web address of any other online resources:
Details of opening for public access and / or research services:
The castle is open to the public by appointment only or by guided tours. A research service may be available – please enquire.
Available services or facilities:
Cafe, Shop, Toilets
Accessibility and disability arrangements / Covid requirements:
We will always endeavour to provide access for disabled visitors, however the historic nature of the site can male this difficult. Our access statement can be found here:
Other connected heritage sites, museums or archives:
The Castle itself is owned by the Duchy of Lancaster and we are one of several organisations on the site. Lancashire Constabulary Police Museum; the Judges Lodgings Lancaster at: