Lancaster University takes historic step into city’s castle

The newly-renovated Lancaster Castle, where Lancaster University will have a presence from 2020 © Nick Dagger Photography

Lancaster University will go right to the heart of the city’s historic story when it opens a new academic space in the centuries-old Lancaster Castle, owned by the Duchy of Lancaster.

The University has signed a two-year lease to operate the new purpose-built suite created as part of the latest phase of renovation and conservation undertaken by the Duchy.

A seminar room, with a capacity for around 60 people, will be used for academic events, teaching and training purposes. It will offer history and conservation students the chance to learn in a venue at the heart of their academic studies. In addition to its main academic purpose, a small number of public events, building on the University’s links with the city, as well as staff and business meetings, will take place in the venue.

The facility, which includes a separate kitchen and servery area, is due to open in early 2020. Teaching for subjects with a particular relevance to the medieval Castle will take place during the current academic year.

Lancaster University academic staff will use the new Lancaster Castle base for meetings with colleagues from other academic establishments and with a range of partners.

Professor Dame Sue Black, Lancaster University Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engagement, said: “Having a city-centre campus extension in Lancaster’s historic castle allows us to develop a major presence in the vibrant heart of the city with which we at the university have always had such strong connections.

“The new venue also provides the opportunity to foster successful partnerships, with businesses, community organisations and with the City Council. Working together with the Duchy of Lancaster, we are positive that we can both benefit and ensure that heritage is at the heart of the vision for the city.”

Andrew Burgess, Lancaster University Director of Estates, Facilities and Commercial Services, said: “Students will be able to enhance their academic experience through teaching as part of history-based lectures. Our links with leading business and public sector organisations will also give them the opportunity to meet with our local partners in this historic space.”

Nathan Thompson, Chief Executive of the Duchy of Lancaster, said: “We are delighted to welcome Lancaster University to the Castle. This partnership aligns perfectly with the Duchy’s ambitions for these historic buildings and supports the development of a heritage asset which serves as a cultural hub and centre of learning for the local community as well as for visitors to the city.”

The refurbished Castle recently reopened to the public, following extensive restoration and conservation work on the lower courtyards and buildings. As a result of the project, the Castle now offers a remodelled piazza, covered cloister walk, gallery space and a new purpose-built visitor café operated by Atkinsons.

Lancaster University’s presence in the Castle builds on an ongoing programme of engagement in Lancaster and the wider district. This includes providing study space and free law clinics for local residents in The Storey Institute, and supporting and playing an active role in community events, such as Light up Lancaster and Morecambe Carnival. The University also presents a programme of free lectures and drop-in events to provide the community with the opportunity to find out more about the University’s research and teaching.

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