Judges’ Lodgings

Polly Checkland Harding
Judge’s Lodgings, Lancaster, Lancashire
Image courtesy of LCC

A little way down the hill from the imposing Lancaster Castle and close to Lancaster Priory, Judges’ Lodgings is the oldest townhouse in Lancaster – a seasonal museum with beautiful, wood panelled period rooms and a Victorian school room inside, which is also the home of the Museum of Childhood. This stately building, with its mullioned front windows and grand porticoed entranceway, faces out onto a wide cobbled square, and is open to the public after undergoing careful refurbishment (tickets £3 adults; £2 concessions; children free). Judges’ Lodgings has a long – and at points sinister – history; this was also the former home of Thomas Covell, coroner and keeper of Lancaster Castle, most famous for jailing the group of people accused during the Pendle witch trials.

The Pendle witch trials were one of the most notorious court cases of the 17th century, in which 12 people, most of whom were women, were charged with the murder, using witchcraft, of ten others. Ten of the twelve accused were tried at Lancaster Assizes in August 1612, having walked over 50 miles from Pendle; their route is now known as the Pendle Witch Trail, and passes through the Forest of Bowland, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Locked in the castle’s damp cells, the accused were imprisoned for months before being tried; one of the group died in custody. Ten of the original 12 were found guilty and hanged, with only one acquitted, in what proved to be a very dark chapter in Lancaster’s history.

Judges’ Lodgings later became a place of residence for the judges visiting the Assizes Court at the Castle, playing this role between 1776-1975. The building was subsequently turned into the heritage visitor attraction that it is today, but was threatened with closure in 2016, as part of a programme of local council cuts. After three years of campaigning and restoration by The Friends of Lancaster Judges’ Lodgings, the building was reopened in 2019. It remains a popular destination, hosting exhibitions and events, although visitors should note that there’s limited disabled access due to the building’s Grade I listed status.

The museum is open between March and November on Thursdays through to Sundays, between 11am and 4pm.

Church StreetLancasterLA1 1YS View map
Visit Now

What's on near Judges’ Lodgings

Seeing Things Poster Front
Seeing Things at The Edge

‘Seeing Things’ at The Edge in Wigan, gathers the work of nine local artists in an effort to bring art and related activities closer to the community.

free entry
Ian Humphreys
LiteratureWest Yorkshire
Poetry at the Dusty Miller

Poetry at the Dusty Miller is a brand-new night with invited readers, organised by Carcanet-published Carola Luther and Judith Willson in the Coiners’ Room in the Mytholmroyd pub.

free entry

Where to go near Judges’ Lodgings

Bar or Pub
The Stonewell Tap

The Stonewell Tap is a lively craft beer bar on Church Street, Lancaster, which boasts 16 craft beer taps and 4 real hand-pulled ale pumps.

The Music Room from Atkinsons Coffee Roasters Lancaster
Café or Coffee Shop
The Music Room

The Music Room from Atkinsons Coffee Roasters is a cafe situated on a Grade II listed Georgian pavilion with sun trap outside seating.

Lancaster Castle Lancashire
Tourist Attraction
Lancaster Castle

Lancaster Castle’s origins date back almost 1,000 years. This Grade 1 Listed Building occupies a city-centre hilltop location on the site of three successive Roman forts.

Lancaster Library

Sitting in the heart of Lancaster is the Lancaster Library. When not serving its usual function, this beautiful space is occasionally transformed into an unlikely gig venue.

The Grand Theatre in Lancaster
The Grand Theatre, Lancaster

First opened in 1782, the theatre is now host to amateur drama, music and dance and professional touring companies. Tours of the historic building are available

The Herbarium

This plant-based cafe and bar serves delicious vegan breakfasts and coffees in the day, before transforming into a fantastic dinner venue in ‘Herb after Dark’.

Filbert's Baker artisan bread in Lancaster
Filbert’s Bakery

Filbert’s bakery is a family owned bakery that provides delicious fresh bread every morning along with breakfast goods, cakes and savouries.

Photo of a sign that says 'Keep This Gate Locked'
Tourist Attraction
A Wing

Formerly a debtor’s prison, Lancaster Castle is not only a tourist attraction in its own right, it also plays host to a most unusual pop-up club.

Event venue
The Storey Creative Industries Centre

Multi-purpose venue comprising an auditorium and lecture theatre, gallery space, café bar, Visitor Information Centre, hireable meeting rooms and conference/events spaces and private offices.

The Dukes, Lancaster
The Dukes

Lancashire’s only producing theatre hosts exciting seasons of work featuring new writing and the classics in a converted church in central Lancaster. The Dukes is also a cinema, hosts gigs, talks and other special events, run a youth theatre and is a popular all day cafe bar.

An interior shot of the arches within Lancaster Priory
Lancaster Priory

Lancaster Priory Church is a vibrant, open and inclusive church at the heart of Lancaster. Music, education and community are at the heart of their mission.

Culture Guides

Music in Manchester and the North

Fresh concert seasons, forward-thinking festivals and a revolving door of amazing gigs. Things are looking bright as spring comes into view.

Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

February is a month of love so art lovers in the North - rejoice! There is lots to choose from: two photography festivals, gorgeous crafts and shows celebrating local talent.