Weekly City Spotlight: Lancaster


Skyline View of Lancaster

Located in the county of Lancashire, Lancaster is set on the River Lune in the North West of England.  With so much to offer those looking for a city break, Lancaster’s Castle is a fantastic place to start, just one of many historic buildings within the city.  The stunning Williamson Park provides a chance to relax and explore attractions such as the Ashton Memorial set in over 50 acres, and with a range of museums in the city, historic Lancaster can also be revisted.  With shops, restaurants and café’s galore, the docks and quay areas are also on offer, making Lancaster a beautiful and diverse place to visit.

Historic Lancaster
The Doomesday Book refers to Lancaster as Loncastre, with Lon taken from the River Lune and Castre meaning fort.  The Roman fort stood on the site where Lancaster Castle is now located, and dated back to around 79AD.  It is believed that Lancaster’s magnificent castle was built in the 11th Century, a structure which dominates the skyline of Lancaster.

With the Roman’s having left the area by the 5th Century, there is evidence of a monastery being built within the area of Lancaster, close to the location of Lancaster Priory, with the discovery of a cross made by the Anglo Saxon’s dating back to the 700-800’s.  Historic documents confirm William I took control of Lancaster after the Norman Conquest in 1066, and it would be passed to Roger de Poitou, an Anglo-Norman aristocrat to oversee, together with other large sections of land throughout England.  1193 would see Lancaster granted its first charter during the reign of Richard I, confirming its status as a borough and market town, it would take until 1937 for city status to be awarded to Lancaster.

The Wars of the Roses took place as a result of the great rivalry between the House of Lancaster and the House of York, both of which formed part of the royal dynasty during the middle ages.  The Wars refer to these conflicts with the House of Lancaster’s heraldic symbol being a red rose, and the House of York a white rose. Several conflicts relating to the throne of England took place from 1455-1485, with Henry Tudor finally defeating Richard III, the last King of York and uniting the houses following his marriage to the daughter of Edward IV, in turn the House of Tudor took the throne and ruled until 1603.

James Williamson, 1st Baron Ashton
Born in Lancaster on 31st December 1842, James Williamson was a politician and businessman whose remarkable contributions to Lancaster include Williamson Park, which he created together with his father, James Williamson Snr.  Williamson’s father ran a coated fabrics business in Lancaster which offered linoleum and oilcloth for export, a business which James would also work in.  Williamson was also responsible for the Ashton Memorial, the city’s Town Hall and the Queen Victoria Monument all of which can be found in Lancaster.

Popular Culture
Lancaster is an historic and cultural city, and has also been a focus in popular culture.

Films & TV
Panto! (2012) – Written by John Bishop and Jonathan Harvey and starring John Bishop and Amy Metcalf, Panto! is a TV film which follows Lewis Loud, a local DJ appearing in pantomime for the first time.  The Grand Theatre in Lancaster is the venue featured in this comedy.

Social Media
Additional information on Lancaster can be found on its official website Visit Lancashire as well as its Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts.

Famous Faces
Thomas Edmondson – Born in Lancaster on 30th June 1792, Edmondson famously invented the Edmondson Railway Ticket, until this time tickets were handwritten.  Edmondson’s design was a cardboard ticket pre-printed and featuring the journey details.  Edmondson would also invent a machine to print tickets which also included serial numbers, with all of his inventions bringing him much financial reward.

Robert Binyon – was a famous poet and author whose work includes For the Fallen, and is the basis for the Ode of Remembrance, used in services on Remembrance Sunday. Binyon was born on 10th  August 1869 in Lancaster.

Jon Richardson – comedian and writer was born in Lancaster on 26th September 1982.  Richardson is known as a star of stand-up and also for his regular TV appearances on shows such as 8 Out of 10 Cats, he has also enjoyed an extensive radio career.



Lancaster Castle

Lancaster Castle
Up until 2011, the Castle at Lancaster still served as a prison, but today visitors can access this fantastic attraction and learn more about the famous prisoners of the past including the Pendle Witches.  After entering through the striking Gatehouse, exploring Hadrian’s Tower, the Judges Lodgings, the Shire Hall, The Old Cells and the Grand Jury Room will transport you back in time through the Castle’s fascinating history.

Lancaster City Museum
Located in Market Street, the Lancaster City Museum is a majestic building, which used to be the Town Hall, and houses many treasures from Lancaster’s heritage.  Filled with amazing collections, one of the many highlights is the Silverdale Hoard, a collection of Viking coins and jewellery unearthed near Silverdale in Lancashire.  With the King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum housed in the same building, the incredible stories of the troop’s bravery can also be explored.

The Grand Theatre
Having been built in 1781 and opened the following year, the Grand Theatre in Lancaster is one of the oldest in the country and is a Grade II listed building. Having been developed over the years, 1908 saw the Theatre extensively damaged by fire, but following the designs of architect Albert Winstanley, rebuilding took place and the theatre today remains a popular venue for top name acts as well as amateur productions.

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