The old, grey city of Lancaster lies westwards of the lovely moorland scenery of the Trough of Bowland, to the east of Morecambe Bay, with the mountains of the Lake District as an impressive backdrop. Essentially Georgian in appearance, the city nestles at the foot of its Norman castle and ancient priory which look down from the vantage point of Castle Hill. The castle was built in the eleventh century, and, although much altered since medieval days, had been used as a prison for centuries, up until March 2011. The great Shire Hall has an impressive display of heraldry and the drop room contains the brutal relics of early prison life.
Standing side by side with the castle is the ancient fourteenth-century parish church of Lancaster, which was founded as part of an eleventh-century Benedictine priory. It is notable for its Saxon doorway and magnificent oak-canopied stalls from Cockersand Abbey.
In the Old Town Hall, an outstanding Georgian building, are the exhibits of the City Museum which include archaeology, maritime history and local paintings. The early uniforms, medals and photographs of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment are on display here as well.
Judges’ Lodgings, a seventeenth-century town house, formerly the home of visiting Assize Judges, now contains two museums. The Gillow and Town House Museum displays the work of the famous Lancaster cabinet-making firm of Gillows, while the Museum of Childhood incorporates the Barry Elder Doll Collection.
To the east of the city in Williamson Park stands the Ashton Memorial, the gift of Lord Ashton in 1909 who also provided the city with its magnificent Town Hall. The green dome of the memorial is a well-known landmark and its higher galleries provide panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
Lancaster has massive historical importance and saw the ebb and flow of army’s and raiding parties to and from Scotland including the Jacobite Rebellion and Bonnie Prince Charlie’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to seize the throne.
Modern Lancaster also has an impressive university, although only established in 1963 Lancaster University is hugely respected and is in the top ten of English universities and has a growing global recognition placing in the top ten percent of worldwide universities. Lancaster University has a large campus two and half miles south of the city centre where all the University buildings are on campus.
Lancaster is Lancashire’s county town and was the centre of government for the county for many years, these days Lancashire County Council are at City Hall in Preston some twenty miles south of Lancaster.
Lancaster an historic city with a modern thriving university. There is much to see and do in Lancaster.