Visit Lancaster and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Lancaster, Lancashire. The history of this town goes back more than seven and a half centuries. There were various early occupations of Castle Hill, where prehistoric flint implements were found, and its vicinity. There was a Roman camp by the River Lune (or Loyne). It is supposed that before the Romans came the river flowed on the south of Castle Hill instead of the north as now, and attempts have been made to establish its exact course. Little is known of the Anglo-Saxon period: some survivals of this are in St Mary's Church. William I bestowed Halton Manor, which included Lancaster, on Roger de Poitou. The latter built the first fortifications of the Norman castle on Castle Hill, the site of a Roman military station, in the 11th century. The great square Norman keep was built about 1170, and this, still to be seen, is 78 ft high with walls 10 ft thick. King John built a curtain wall with round towers, and a massive gateway, round the keep, enclosing a roughly circular area 380 ft by 350 ft; and also built Hadrian's Tower, which still remains (it was drastically restored in the 18th and 19th centuries). In 1322 Robert Bruce burnt most of the town but made no impression on the castle. Edward III's son, John of Gaunt, was much associated with the castle; he is “Time-honour'd Lancaster” in Shakespeare's depiction. But John of Gaunt paid only brief visits to his castle. On the keep a turret named after him was used as a beacon to signal the approach of the Armada. The lower parts of the gateway were added to in the l5th century; begun by King John, this, like his Well Tower, is still to be seen. There was repair work by Elizabeth I, shown by her initials on the castle. It was a Parliamentary stronghold in the Civil War, and later George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends, was twice imprisoned there. The castle is used as the gaol and for assize and other courts.
The Shire Hall is within the castle and has an impressive display of heraldry with the coats of arms of all sovereigns from Richard I.
Lancaster is the county town and has many fine buildings. The Priory and Parish Church of St Mary is particularly interesting. There was first a church on this site built by the Romans, probably before the end of the 2nd century. Part of its east end was discovered in 1912, and Roman lamps with Christian marking were found in the vicarage garden. The converted Anglo-Saxons built a church on the site, and its remains are a small square-topped doorway and part of the west wall. A rare type of early Anglian cross with runic inscriptions was found in the churchyard and sent to the British Museum. Roger de Poitou gave St Mary's to a Benedictine abbey of Normandy, which founded a small monastery at the end of the 11th century. There is no record of a Norman church, but, east of the Roman section choir walls in the Transitional style came to light. The south-west doorway is in the same style, so there may have been a l2th-century church almost as large as the present one. It was probably destroyed when the town was twice burnt by the Scots or during the Black Death of 1349. Rebuilding began before the end of the 14th century. In the 1414 suppression of foreign priories the Lancaster one was given to the Brigitine Convent of Syon (Middlesex). In 1430 St Mary's became the parish church of Lancaster, but its fabric is largely that built by the nuns of Syon, including its main features: the great east window, the windows of the north and south walls, and the clerestory. The church contains outstanding Decorated choir stalls of about 1340, possibly brought from Furness Abbey. John Ruskin considered the carved work of their canopies to be the finest in England. The carved oak two-decker pulpit is early 17th-century, as is the font cover; the font itself is early 19th-century. The colourful stained glass is mid-19th-century. One of many wall tablets is by Fisher of York, and another by L. F. Roubiliac. The previous Gothic tower was replaced by the present one, built in 1759 to the design of Henry Sephton.
Nearby cities: Preston
Nearby towns: Barrow-in-furness, Blackpool, Carnforth, Chipping, Kendal, Fleetwood, Morecambe, Poulton-le-fylde
Nearby villages: Bay Horse, Caton, Cockerham, Conder Green, Crossgill, Galgate, Haysham, Hornby Quernmere, Salter, Stodday
Have you decided to visit Lancaster or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Lancaster bed and breakfast (a Lancaster B&B or Lancaster b and b)
- a Lancaster guesthouse
- a Lancaster hotel (or motel)
- a Lancaster self-catering establishment, or
- other Lancaster accommodation