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Lincoln Castle's male prison to be opened to the public for the first time

By This is Lincolnshire  |  Posted: May 14, 2011

John Walker, a Lincolnshire County Council cultural services adviser, in the male prison.

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IT was once home to hundreds of hardened criminals and for some it was their final stop before they were sentenced to death.

But now, Lincoln Castle's male prison will be opened up to the public for the first time.

The city's castle grounds are home to a pristine Victorian prison – complete with the only prison chapel of its kind in the world.

The chapel and female prison are already open to visitors, but the male prison has stayed under lock and key – until now.

On May 21, the male prison finally opens its doors as it plays host to the 1,000 Years Of Traditional Crafts initiative.

The day is aimed at keeping dying crafts alive and will take place at three venues.

Demonstrations of archaic crafts, such as weaving and tapestry-making, will take place in the cells of the male prison, with dry-stone walling and blacksmithing being shown in the castle grounds.

Lincoln Cathedral's works department is the third venue and will feature crafts such as calligraphy, among others.

Lydia Rusling, tourism officer at Lincolnshire County Council and one of the organisers of the 1,000 Years of Traditional Crafts Day, told the Echo visitors would see the male prison as it had never been seen before.

She said: "The prison has never been opened in quite the same way before.

"When you first walk in you get quite a dramatic view.

"It has a really large window which floods the area with light.

"And obviously, it's a very historic building.

"In each of the prison cells we're going to have traders from the 1,000 Years Of Traditional Crafts event.

"People will really be able to see different arts and crafts being put into practice and it will, hopefully, help keep them alive for future generations. The aim of the day is to show that those old skills can still be used for today's benefit.

"It's more than just a craft fair, it's going to be a way to see how things were done.

"The male prison isn't a visitor attraction as such, just yet.

"But it will form a large basis in the bid for the new castle improvements and we want to make it as accessible for everyone as possible."

Nigel Burn, a 60-year-old solicitor from Lincoln and guide with the Friends of Lincoln Castle, said: "The male prison is fascinating and a real asset to Lincoln Castle.

"It's probably one of the few existing prisons of its kind in the world.

"It would be wonderful if everyone took the opportunity to have a look at something which is a rare piece of history."

Tickets on the gate cost £11 for adults, £4.75 for children aged between five and 18, £8.50 for concessions or £28 for a family ticket.

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    lynn, lincoln  |  May 14 2011, 8:27AM

    It looks like the inside of Greetwell Road. Haydn, keep us all posted on the freebies!

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    Haydn, Lincs  |  May 14 2011, 7:40AM

    Don't want to pay to see inside this, wait for a Heritage day usually around 10th March and anorther the 1st week after the School go back in September then such are FREE entry! Being free they are never well advertised in advance!

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    Philip Lowe, Hobart Tasmania Australia  |  May 14 2011, 7:31AM

    I know the Chapel in Lincoln Castle. There is a near identical one at Port Arthur Penal Settlement in Tasmania.