Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsIn this video, we will examine the changing role of Lancaster Castle as a tourist and heritage attraction. Prior to the 20th century, visitors had flocked to the castle to view the public executions. Perhaps 6,000 at a time. But after 1868, when public executions were abolished, visitors continued to come to view the castle itself. From the 19th century, visitors could tour the castle taking in such sights as the courts and keep, the chapel, the dungeons, the drop room, the Shire Hall, Hadrian's tower, and the astounding views over the surrounding countryside from the roof. By the middle of the 20th century, nearly 45,000 adults and children visited the castle. By 1977, visitor figures had risen to over 55,000.
Skip to 1 minute and 4 secondsThis is the magnificent Shire Hall. The Shields on its walls stand as testament to the interest in capturing and representing the castle's history from its earliest records to the present day. Mr. Edward Dawson was Constable of Lancaster Castle from November 1908. He commissioned John Gilchrist to make shields for all high sheriffs, constables, and sovereigns. Indeed, the royal shields stretching back to the first known sheriff in 1129. Gilchrist continued this work until his death in 1952. His last commission was for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Here's an example of a more recent shield designed for Eric Jones, who was a retired electricity board engineer and Constable of Lancaster Castle from 1998 to 2004.
Skip to 2 minutes and 0 secondsIn some contexts the contrasting roles of the castle as a heritage attraction and as a functioning prison complemented each other. Following the Festival of Britain in 1951, for example, the castle was floodlit without any objections being raised. Throughout this period, tour guides had to find a balance between bringing the history to life while avoiding shocking visitors with overly graphic details of the castle's past or indeed current use. Very occasionally visitors complained of the gusto with which guides described the number of death sentences meted out at the castle. Their horror at seeing Jane Scott's chair or of being told the sordid details of current criminal cases. Christopher Tinmouth is a current tour guide here.
Skip to 2 minutes and 52 secondsWe're trying to act as a service for educating the people of all ages and all backgrounds, which enter within the four walls of this magnificent building. The Keep definitely is the most complex medieval monument, not just in the castle but I'd say in the whole of Lancashire. It's a split Keep, very much like the Tower of London. It would have taken an immense amount of men, materials, time, resources to construct. I would have to say the old prison cells are definitely one of my highlights on the tour. I kind of like the experience of locking people in an old prison cell and to put themselves into the mindset of times past.
Skip to 3 minutes and 33 secondsDespite all the changes, Lancaster Castle has been preserved to a remarkable degree. Protected, perhaps, by the fact that it was a prison for so much of its recent history. Duchy approval was required for any significant alterations, such as the addition or removal of window bars. And was clearly dependent on whether any changes were superficial and readily reversible. Nonetheless, this was and remains an expensive and challenging site to maintain. Dry rot, wet rot, unsafe areas, and modernisation of gas, electricity, or water supplies was seldom straightforward or cheap issues to address. The most recent work has shown how the castle is adaptable and full of potential.
Skip to 4 minutes and 23 secondsFormer prison cells are being transformed and major work is being carried out to restore roofs and masonry. How do you put a price on history? In 1971 the totally insured value of the castle was £403,000. But it is hard to believe that that figure comes anywhere close to reflecting the significance of the castle and what we can still learn from it.
Lancaster Castle as a tourist attraction
As we know by now, Lancaster Castle has always attracted visitors as well having diverse residents.
Watch this video to think about its identity as a tourist attraction and heritage site.
Which factors from past or present will do most to determine the future of the Castle?
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