Question: just how well do you know Lancaster? Whether you’re still settling in to your first year at uni or you’re a well-seasoned sage on the Lancaster scene, there are a few hidden curiosities out there that you may well have missed. Try this top ten on for size…
The old well in The Sun Hotel
Pop in for a quality pint and take a stroll from the main bar into the back rooms, where you’ll find a little separate off-room with an intriguing old well in the middle of its floor. The well was uncovered whilst the pub was being renovated and is now covered by a thick glass window, allowing you to hover above and stare into the abyss.
Many of you will make regular use of Lancaster’s Millennium Bridge, but how many have spotted the big wooden letters spelling out ‘LUNE’ below the tide line? Head over the bridge from the north, and where it meets the old stone bridge on the quay, look down to your left under the stone archway. But be sure to time your trip well, as most of the time it’s hidden by the river.
Outside Next, where Market Street meets Penny Street and Cheapside. Scan the ground and you’ll see a horseshoe set into the pavement – apparently marking the spot where John O’Gaunt’s horse cast off a shoe.
Queen Victoria’s extra appendage
This is a firm favourite amongst locals – you can’t consider yourself a true Lancastrian until you’ve seen it! Here, perfect placement is the key: head down to Dalton Square and stand on the pavement by The Borough. Walk up the pavement until you are perfectly in line with the statue in the square, turn to face it, and behold the majesty of Old Vic’s crown jewels!
Lopsided house, St. George’s Quay
Take a look at the house to the left of the George & Dragon pub. Weird!
Up on the old moors on the edge of town stood the spot where, up until 1800, all of the public hangings in Lancaster were carried out. Gallows Hill, as it was known, is perhaps most famous as the site where ten of the thirteen Pendle Witches were hanged on August 20, 1612. The site is now home to Williamson Park and Ashton Memorial, and there are some – including TV’s Most Haunted Live – who believe that the presence of those poor souls can still be felt in the area. Take a trip there by night, you never know what you might see…
Golden Lion Plaque
When the Pendle Witches were hanged on Gallows Hill, they were taken from the castle and paraded along Moor Lane and Moorgate, and on up to the gallows. Following tradition, they stopped en route at The Golden Lion pub to take their last drink. A plaque on the site commemorates the witches’ brief stop-over.
Many of you will already be familiar with Blades Street. A stone’s throw away from the bus station, it is a popular choice for student digs. But have you ever taken a good look at the place – I mean a really good look? Because rumour has it that two Lancaster alumni, Messrs. Peter Whalley and Marvin Close, drew inspiration from their time on Blade Street whilst working as script writers for Coronation Street.
Buck Ruxton’s House
Dr. Buktyar Rustomji Ratanji Hakim, or Buck Ruxton as he was known locally, was a Parsi surgeon who both lived and practised in Dalton Square in the 1930s. He has become infamous as a double murderer (he murdered his wife and maid, dismembered them in his bathtub, and travelled to Scotland to dispose off their remains), and as being one of the first murderers to be caught using the fledgling science of forensics. Queen Victoria’s back is turned to his former residence, which still stands on Dalton Square and has never since been used for residential purposes.
Lancaster (Forton) Motorway Services
A slightly bizarre way to end this list, admittedly – but Lancaster Services have a claim to fame as being the very first motorway services, on the very first stretch of motorway (this section of the M6 was originally known as the Preston Bypass) in the UK. Not only that, but it’s also the infamous spot where Mr. Bean himself, Rowan Atkinson, wrote-off his £1m McLaren F1 sports car in 1999 by crashing into the back of a Rover Metro!