Ten reasons to visit Lancaster
- Credit: Archant
Former newspaper editor Sue Riley shares ten reasons why we should visit her adopted home
1. Antique lovers from across the north visit more than 140 stalls at GB Antiques Centre on the outskirts of the city. It is one of the largest in the UK and it’s all under cover and open seven days a week. Lancaster Leisure Park where it is based also has a factory shop, tearoom and newly opened farm shop and Lancaster Brewery attraction.
2. Lancaster Castle is widely regarded as one of the most fascinating historic buildings in the country. Dating back to Roman times, it was once an effective defence point against the marauding forces of ancient Scot tribes, the site of the Pendle Witch trials, executions for everything from murder to stealing cattle and, in more recent times, a working prison. It is sometimes known as John O’Gaunt’s Castle because it was inherited by him after descendants of King Henry III died leaving no male heir.
3. Walk along St George’s Quay and admire its quirky houses amid the Georgian splendour funded by the city’s role in the slave trade. To find out more about the area’s history visit the Maritime Museum.
4. Wander around Williamson Park and perhaps have a drink in the café while gazing at the beautiful Ashton Memorial folly, built by Lancaster’s linoleum industrialist Lord Ashton in 1909. For younger members of the family there’s a play area, there butterfly house.
5. Drink some of the best coffee in Lancashire at J.Atkinson & Co’s two venues, The Music Room (housed in a tiny folly) or the larger, more urban Priory Hall. If you’re short of time then you can pop into Atkinsons tea and coffee shop which was established in 1837 and buy some raw ingredients. More details at www.thecoffeehopper.com
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6. This annual festival of light takes place every November. Expect music, dance, performance and art installations as well as landmarks and hidden gems that will be illuminated. There will also be tours, talks and workshops and the event culminates in the city’s famous and spectacular fireworks display. They are launched from the top of Lancaster Castle and can be seen across the whole city
7. Visit Lancaster’s charming Grand Theatre. Built in 1782, the theatre puts on a variety of shows with a strong emphasis on comedy. The Dukes Theatre is popular with locals and visitors alike, Over half a miilion people have attended The Dukes promenade plays, making it the UKs biggest outdoor walkabout theatre event. At Lancaster University a range of theatre, dance and world class musical events are put on during term time.
8. Take time to enjoy Lancaster City Museum which apart from its permanent collection including the King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum also has a rolling programme of exhibitions. The museum organises regular talks about the area’s history as well. This former town hall, in Market Street, was built in the late 1700s but was not opened as a museum until 1923.
9. Lots of independent shops await visitors and Sun Street and Gage Street are good places to start. Then there’s the city’s two shopping arcades and main high streets with the usual fare of city centre stores. There’s also a busy open air market on Wednesday and Saturdays and also a small indoor market called the Assembly Rooms which has a range of quirky stalls. For those in the know, anyone wanting to buy material visits the factory shop at Standfast on Caton Road with its wide range of fabrics, including lovely Liberty prints, all at bargain prices.
10. John Ruskin enthusiasts will love the Ruskin Library and Research Centre in the grounds of Lancaster University. The Ruskin Library and Research Centre houses the Whitehouse Collection of materials relating to the artist. You’ll also find manuscripts, letters, diaries, books and pictures by Ruskin as well as by his friends and associates including Samuel Prout. There are also copies of Old Master paintings and photographs from Ruskin’s personal collections.