Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Lancaster Curiosity (11)

If you visit Lancaster Castle for the tour you are only shown a small part of it, namely the law courts (if they're not in session), the Shire Hall and various other parts including a dungeon cell . The major part of the castle is not available for tours as it is still part of HM Prisons and has been for some centuries and looks set to remain so for the forseeable future.
However, as part of your tour you will learn of the Lancaster or Pendle, Witches and will be shown into a very dark cell where you are given the impression this is where they were incarcerated. Alas this is not the case for, as I have learned from the prison officers themselves, these famaous witches were in fact in the tower which bears their name, the Witches Tower as shown here. In Harrison Ainsworth's account they "awoke to their last day and looked from the window upon the prospect of all Lacaster." Hardly a dark sightless hole though no doubt they may well have spent some time in one while the Authorities pursued their enquiries. Traces of the mullioned windows can still be seen in the walls as well as the two existing ones.
Harrison Ainsworth's novel does drift away from the facts in places. If you want to read the facts, hit this link on Wikipedia.

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