Lancaster, the county town of Lancashire. It was sunny, I had an hour or so to spare, and it would have been a waste not to wander through some of its history. An ancient settlement that was once home to a Roman fort that grew into an important centre throughout the ages for commerce and culture. The great River Lune passes through it hence the name.. ‘Lan’ derived from the name of the river and ‘caster’ from the name of a Roman fort. Caster, chester and other derivatives appear all over old Roman British names giving a glimpse to the past and how the romans had founded places, eg Manchester, Doncaster, Rochester, Gloucester and many many more, way too many to mention here including Chester of course.
Where to start? But at the top of course, and with the oldest building there, Lancaster Castle, built on top of that Roman fort. Believed to have been founded in the 11th century it lays claim to some very historical events. The main image atop this post shows the commanding view over the City it has. It was used as a prison right up until 2011! The court within has condemned to death people such as The Pendle Witches in the 17th Century, and imprisoned there was George Fox (founder of the Quakers). Many of the people sentenced here were also shipped off to Australia. You can take guided tours within if you want to see and learn more.
Royalty has a huge part to play in Lancaster history too. Today the Queen herself is the Duke of Lancaster, but back in the middle ages, when England was ruled by the dynasty of the Plantagenet kings, the dynasty broke into two.. the House of Lancaster and the House of York. There were three House of Lancaster Kings, Henrys IV, V and VI. But history lessons tell us the rivalry with the other house brought the War of the Roses and finally Henry Tudor. He was actually from the House of Lancaster and defeated York’s Richard III. Becoming the last English king to gain the throne in battle. He married Elizabeth of York (politically clever) and finally created stability and also the Tudor dynasty. The Tudor Rose is thus Red (Lancashire) and White (York).
Right beside the castle is The Priory and Parish Church of St Mary. Also overlooking the city but also with views over Morecambe Bay. A great building to wander around or you may like to step inside and view the famous carved choir stalls and the misericords.
Of course as I have stated the great River Lune passes through Lancaster and a walk down the side of the river feels far removed from a city existence. Gulls of many varieties flying overhead or resting beside the water. A calm walk especially on a day like this, with a few notable bridges. Here is one of the modern ones, the millennium bridge.
But further on of course you are treated to some bridges of old. Like below here, Skerton Bridge. If you have travelled South on the A6 through Lancaster then you have crossed it. Completed in 1787 it was the first ‘large’ bridge in England to have a flat surface rather than a humped one.
I was enjoying the wander under the blue skies I realised I best make my way to the meeting I had. It was just as quick to go via the canal back to the centre. Another way to simply walk from a busy city centre to complete calm within. Passing under Lancaster Cathedral amongst many buildings plus visual memories of an industrial age.
Back through the old cobbled streets.
and by the City Museum, the old town hall where you can learn about Lancaster’s past archeologically.
After doing all I had needed to get done it was time to wind down again. The sun was falling and I was out of the city. Looking back over Lancaster I could see beyond the centre and beyond the churches and castle. The view behind gives further emphasis on how geographically special it is here. Lancaster, Morecambe Bay and the mountains of the Lake District as the backdrop.
This is always a part of the view many get curious about when passing via the M6. A domed, old looking feature, standing high seemingly at the entrance to the city. The Ashton Memorial or jovially known as ‘The Taj Mahal of the North’. Only built in the early 1900s though it is full of quirks and will be featured here soon for sure.
Really enjoyed reading this article, and the photos are stunning (as always).
So enjoy reading the write ups you do on your adventures, and like I said the photos really are great.
Hi Peter, very kind of you to say, thank you
Great ‘photos and blog. I was brought up in Lancaster on the misspelled Ulleswater Road, part of the Lakes series of roads leading towards the Ashton Memorial and the Park. Haven’t been back since the early ’80’s. maybe I should take a trip back.
Fascinsting piece. It must be 15 years since I did the tour of the castle and walked around Lancaster. I must get back up there. You’ve inspired me again(!) to make that trip. Thanks.
Yes a city too often overlooked 🙂 TY
Who’d have thought it? Ignorant southerner that I am, I hadn’t realised how fascinating Lancaster is.You’re an amazing travel guide, long may you stride around!
Hi Barbara, thanks so much.. Yes there is so much to the place