New Lancaster Castle cafe, gallery and teaching suite to open in September

An artist's impression of the new look castle courtyard
An artist's impression of the new look castle courtyard

A new cafe, gallery space, teaching suite and ticket office will open at Lancaster Castle this September.

Extensive conservation works currently underway at the castle are to continue throughout the summer holidays with completion now expected by the end of August 2019.

This will mean a three-month extension to the restricted public access and continued closure of the main John O’Gaunt gate on Castle Hill.

The Duchy of Lancaster, which runs the castle, has also moved a number of its core functions to Lancaster Castle over the last 12 months.

Guided tours and activities centred on the Shire Hall and adjacent rooms will continue uninterrupted during that period.

Graeme Chalk, head of project management at The Duchy of Lancaster, said: “All conservation work at the castle has to be carried out carefully and sensitively so that this important heritage asset is protected for future generations.

The Castle, one of Lancaster's magnificent landmarks. Photograph reproduced by kind permission of the Duchy of Lancaster

The Castle, one of Lancaster's magnificent landmarks. Photograph reproduced by kind permission of the Duchy of Lancaster

“This is a complex project and our first priority has to be in keeping staff and visitors safe while construction is underway.”

The completed project will open up the former Kitchen Courtyard at Lancaster Castle providing additional public open space, a covered cloister-walk, new visitor café, gallery space, teaching suite and ticket office. The re-opening of the lower courtyard and public access via the historic John O’Gaunt Gate is now expected by the beginning of September 2019.

Various core functions of the Duchy have been relocated to Lancaster Castle over the last 12 months including rural estate management, tenant finance and communications. A new boardroom has also been created to support the growing activity based at the new Northern Office.

Duchy Head of Communications Debbie Garritty added: “It has long been said that if London is the head of the Duchy, then Lancaster is the heart.

“The decentralisation of key business functions and the continued investment in the restoration of these historic buildings are a clear manifestation of the Duchy’s long-term commitment to the City.

“While we appreciate that people may be disappointed to have to wait a little longer to see the completed works, we are confident that it will be worth the wait!”

The former cafe at Lancaster Castle closed in August 2017 as part of the major repair and conservation works.

The wider works will involve opening up the former prison kitchen yard and revealing more of the castle’s historic buildings including the King’s Evidence Tower, Male Felons Tower and former prison hospital building. The new phase of development at the castle was initially scheduled for completion in June 2019.

For up-to-date information on guided tours, events and opening times at Lancaster Castle you can visit the website www.lancastercastle.com.