Historic event will leave the gates wide open

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An exciting and unprecedented chapter in the history of Lancaster will begin this weekend.

At 10am on Saturday, following a short opening ceremony and fanfare, Lancaster Castle’s famous John O’ Gaunt gates will be thrown open to the public by its Constable, Gordon Johnson, who holds the keys on behalf of The Queen.

Entertainment is planned inside the courtyard over the bank holiday weekend, and then the gates will remain open everyday for people to come and go freely.

There will be a new cafe run by Nice Bar and Restaurant, and a new turfed area will provide a space for picnics and other events.

Described by English Heritage as the North West’s most important historic and archaelogical monument, the castle’s front gates have never before been open to the public in this way.

Francesca Lewis, general manager of Nice Bar and Restaurant, said that to be asked by the Duchy of Lancaster to run a cafe and events in the castle courtyard was a great honour.

She said: “Nice @ The Castle is going to be opening permanently, seven days a week, from 10am until 5pm with a British themed menu.

“We only found out three weeks ago.

“It’s going to be amazing, they’re going to throw the gates open and there will be lots of different events over the next two years.

“They have also asked me to manage the events inside the castle.

“Who’s going to say no to that?!”

Francesca said she was now looking at organising medieval dinners, film festivals and music events inside the courtyard, with one big event every month.

Over the bank holiday weekend there will be family activities, with historical re-enactment, archery, sword fighting, puppetry and children’s workshops.

Lancashire County Council’s museums service tours will now start and finish at the cafe and will include the courtyard as well as parts of the former prison.