An historical city and the county capital of Lancashire, Lancaster is compact but compelling, and ideal for a short break or a day out, whether it’s exploring canals or enjoying artisan coffee.

There’s plenty of self-catering, holiday cottage accommodation in Lancashire, to make your visit to Lancaster that much more memorable, and flexible when it comes to your itinerary.


Lancaster Castle

With its origins in Roman times, and its later use as a prison, as recently as 2011, Lancaster Castle is an unmissable attraction in the heart of the city.

The castle has been part of the Roman defences against marauding hordes of Scottish tribes, and Richard the Lionheart gave it as a gift to his brother Prince John.

During the English Civil War, it became a garrison for the Parliamentarians who captured it, and was then the scene of a siege by the opposing Royalists.

Over the years its gaol has housed, and been the execution site of, various martyrs, dissidents and criminals.

It was a centre for training police officers in the 1930s, and became once again a prison in 1954, until its closure in 2011.

Various parts of the castle date to different times in its colourful history, which makes for a fascinating trip through history, all concentrated in one location. The Keep is a four-storey tower rebuilt during the reign of Elizabeth I; the Well Tower (also known as the Witches Tower) dates from 1312, and its alternative name comes from the Lancashire Witches, who were supposedly housed there before their trial in 1612.

The John O’ Gaunt Gatehouse is perhaps the most impressive of the castle’s buildings, built shortly after the accession of Henry IV; and on the other side of the gatehouse is the 18th century Governor’s House, between the Gatehouse and Well Tower.

English Heritage has described Lancaster Castle as the North West’s most important historic and architectural monument. Public access to interior areas is by guided tour, but there is free access to courtyard areas, and the castle’s café and gift shop.


The Ashton Memorial

Located high on a hill in Williamson Park, overlooking the city, you can’t miss The Ashton Memorial.

This Edwardian memorial is a splendidly Baroque construction, sometimes nicknamed the jelly mould. Lord Ashton commissioned it in honour of his late wife, but in fact he’d remarried by the time it was completed.

It has an external copper dome, while the remainder of the building is a combination of granite and Portland stone. The memorial is 150 feet tall, and it provides glorious panoramic views of the city and surrounding area from its first floor, outdoor viewing gallery.

Williamson Park also has a Butterfly House, where you experience a calm, tropical atmosphere and amble along as butterflies perched or fluttering around, including many beautiful species.


Shopping and Coffee

Lancaster’s historic streets are home to a diverse range of independent shops, as well as the main high street retailers, including small boutiques, gift shops and vintage stalls.

The city now has its own, unique coffee quarter, centred around the 1837-established Atkinson coffee roasters and its two cafes, The Hall and The Music Room.

You can also use the city centre in Lancaster as the base for exploring the Lancaster Canal, either on foot, or by a diesel-powered pleasure cruise, taking you over the River Lune across a Georgian viaduct on a two-hour return trip.

If you want to stay in a holiday cottage near Lancaster, visit our website, or email info@holiday