Letter to Lancaster: Dear Lancaster Castle

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It is shameful that I haven’t properly visited you yet. I’ve practically been on your doorstep for two years, and on top of that I’m a History student who’s been fascinated by witches for most of my life. I might hate walking up hills, but even I can manage the few minutes it takes, so I don’t have much of an excuse.

But I suppose it’s easy for something you walk past every day to become an ‘oh, I can go there whenever I want, so I don’t have to do it right this minute’ kind of situation. So, it slips down your priority list and before you know where you are, you’re very much not there at all.

That doesn’t mean you don’t have a special place in my heart. And not just because I can humble-brag about living next to a castle. Though that is part of it, I won’t lie.

If the Ashton Memorial is the Eiffel Tower of Lancaster, you’re the Palace of Versailles. Slightly out of the way, but a significant part of the city’s history, and an intimidating kind of beautiful. It might be odd to call a castle ‘beautiful’, when you could use ‘handsome’, or ‘magnificent’, but there’s something mesmerising about you that’s more magical than mighty. Lancaster is full of nooks and crannies that feel steeped in history, but you are the crowning glory.

I haven’t visited you in the sense of the ‘official’ inside tour, but I’ve spent plenty of time with you on my numerous de-stress walks. When I pass you in the evening and see you lit up by the stars and lamp posts, it’s like I’ve stepped back into a hazily undefined moment of the past. The melodrama of my imagination condenses into an impossible sensation of feeling weightless and grounded at the same time.

That’s pretentiously overdramatic, I know, but the knowledge that you’ve seen millions of people in your time is a very strange thing to wrap my head around. It’s comforting, though. For a moment, I feel like I am everyone who has ever been here, and everyone who ever will be. Or just a tiny speck in the vast expanse of time and space. Sure, that feeling can apply to most places on the planet, but few have such an enduring presence as you do.

Or, when I stroll around your stone walls on a rare sun-soaked afternoon, and my mind wanders at a more leisurely pace, I find myself imagining the Medieval grandeur of yore, the battles you’ve seen over regional boundaries, and come to the realisation that no matter what is going wrong in my life, at least I’m not imprisoned and facing execution for witchcraft.

I promise that one day I will visit you in a greater capacity than the Light Up Lancaster courtyard displays and for the free mulled wine at the carol service. Until then, my love, from a distance will have to suffice.

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