I spent an afternoon exploring the York Castle Museum and the prison. The museum is designed for visitors to travel in the past and relive how local people lived over the last 400 years. There are exhibitions about the English Civil War, The Siege of Hull, The Storming of Selby and The Siege of York. There are replicas of rooms such as a Victorian Parlour, of a Morrland Cottage, a 17th Century dining room and a Victorian street.
There is a special exhibition of 'The Sixties' and the impact it has had on exisitng cultures in the past and in the future.
The admission also includes seeing York Castle Prison where one can learn about it's infamous residents, such as Dick Turpin, and how they met their fate. You can find out more on their website
Admission cost 8.50 gbp but you can return to the museum free of charge for 12 months. I plan to return soon as I would like go round the museum when it's quieter and the children are back at school!
The museum also features an outdoor area where you can wander around, take in some fresh air and enjoy the green scenery. I did not spend that much time here because it started to rain a little, but I think that on a sunny day it must be lovely.
You can see some of the historical walls from the outside, enjoy the green gardens and lawns, and also discover a small mill, the Raindale Mill. This mill was constructed in the 19th century in Raindale, close to Pickering. It was very small and ground wheat, rye and barley. It was brought here in the early days when the museum was founded.
You get to the outdoor area when you leave the 1960s area. First you enter the historical prison courtyard (picture 2). Picture 3 shows the mill and picture 4 a painting of what the mill looked like in its original rural surroundings. It was displayed on one of the information boards.
Sorry for the raindrops in the pictures ;-)
The other building is even a bigger hotchpotch, and it covers an even wider span of time. When you enter, there are first several exhibits of wartime, such as weapons and armours of different centuries (picture 2), and utensils and belongings of soldiers in the two World Wars (picture 1). This exhibit was very moving to me.
Then there were even more historical dresses, this time from the Georgian era (picture 3), which I thought very nice. The white gowns and red coats reminded me of a Jane Austen movie! Next, there were several galleries of historical toys, such as the huge doll's house in picture 4, and then a large area devoted to the 1960s (picture 5). I must admit that this was my least favourite part of the museum. I read that formerly, this street was an Edwardian street similar to the Victorian World, and I think I would have loved that, but the 1960s area was not really my cup of tea, and it seems that others thought so as well judging by the low number of people hanging around there. Of course the 1960s are an interesting decade, but the displays did not really catch my interest, it was so cold and empty and I missed the atmosphere and soul that the decade must have had.
This building is a hotchpotch of many different exhibits and topics. I must admit that not all of them caught my interest, but I am sure that every person with an interest in history will find something worthwhile and fascinating here.
In one big hall, there was an exhibition about everyday life through different stages of life, such as birth, childhood, marriage and death, and how these changed over time. There were also many rooms furnished and decorated authentically with originally pieces, allowing you to reflect on the changed of architecture over the centuries. I enjoyed that very much, and in my pictures you can see a Tudor room (picture 1) and a Georgian room (picture 4). I also loved the displays of historical dresses, such as the Victorian dress in picture 3. Another interesting display was about the depiction of the Royal family in the media, showing many newspaper covers and other items over the decades (picture 2).
I was excited to visit the Victorian World in the Castle Museum, but I must admit that I was also a little afraid - I did not know what to expect and feared that my beloved Victorian era would be transformed into kind of a historical disneyworld... The advertisement flyer sounded a little like that, but when I entered this area, I knew at once that there was no reason to be afraid.
The Victorian World was designed to look like a York street in the 19th century, and the shops displayed are all based on real York shops of the time. It was all not as large as I expected, but still quite a big area. Usually it is very dark, and while you wander along the main street and the small alleys surrounding it, you can hear carriages passing by, some dim voices and shouts, hoofs of horses on the pavement... Yes, it all feels suitably Dickensian!
Sometimes it becomes a little lighter to allow you to see more of the surroundings. There is an apothecary and a school, and many small shops - some of them are not open and you can just see the windows, but others you can enter and see real people in costumes working there. There are also some people in costumes walking around the street, and that was the one part I did not like about the Victorian World: They just looked too contemporary to me - especially the hair. Victorian women would not walk around outside just with a ponytail!
Apart from this, if you have a little fantasy and are open to the experience, I think you can really stroll around here and imagine you are in a Gaskell or Bronte novel :-)
This is one of my favourite museums in England - OK some of it is not that interesting - the toys and some of the costume galleries but it is worth visiting for the recreated street scenes. Here you can walk down an authentically recreated Victorian street and discover the sights, sounds and smells of York over 100 years ago. Meet a friendly policeman, talk to the people who work in the shops, play games with the toy maker and so on. In the poor quarter you can even see rats hiding in the darkness!
To our suprise we found the York Castle Museum to be the most impressive attraction we visited in York. The displays are generally all quite interesting but the Victorian Street is bigger, better and more detailed than it looks on the publicity or we had expected - it really is quite something!
The York Castle Prison section which I think is newish is quite inovative and fairly creepy whilst being very educational (mind your head on the low doorways!).
IMHO, the "Castle Museum" is misnamed. It's not a museum ABOUT a castle, nor is it a museum IN a castle. It just happens to be located NEXT TO a castle, but that's not the same thing.
Okay, now that's I've gotten that off my chest, I can say that I enjoyed visiting the so-called Castle Museum and I would recommend it to other people. What it is: an interesting assortment of rooms and displays which highlight the evolution of the city of York from the middle ages to the present, with a strong focus upon the life of ordinary people. This museum was a pioneer in the development of local social history; there are fascinating glimpses at typical houses and farmsteads over the centuries. The Victorian Street is another interesting feature. Finally, one wing of the museum is given over to a description of crime and punishment in York. Easy to spend a full afternoon here.
I'm sure you've haerd this already, but it's the largest medieval gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, and both cathedral and mynster.
Every wall, ceiling design, window, and curved stone tells you a story.
Don't miss the Great East Window which contains the world's largest area of medieval stained glass in a single window.
Although it is called Castle Museum, this place has nothing to do with castles ,princes, queens etc. it shows how everyday things in the daily life of normal, everyday people have changed over the years. From dresses to toys, cooking , cleaning in the household to the risks of childbirth, just about everything is covered. I especially liked the Victorian streets with the lifesized shops.
Until July 31,2005 there is display of the postcard collection:We are the people.
You need a few hours for the museum, it's too good to just run through.
My parents first took me to the Castle Museum when I was about 7 or 8 years old and it was one of those pleasurable experiences you never forget.
It was about 25 years later when I made my next visit and I enjoyed it just as much and I’ve been back a couple of times since.
The most memorable thing about this museum is its cobbled streets. It has a reconstruction of a small shopping centre with a selection of old shops for you to look around. They always remind me of a picture you find on a box of Chocolates. Any moment I expected a character from a Charles Dickens novel to walk down the street.
The second thing I remember was from a later visit. There are a lot of domestic appliances on show dating back from their first introduction to more modern versions such as televisions and radios. I smiled when I saw a gas heated clothes drier which had laths across the top to lay your wet clothes over. My mother had one of these and I remember her putting the turkey in it at Christmas to keep it warm while the rest of the dinner was cooking!
Sorry I haven’t got any photos of the inside but I haven’t been in since I started writing these pages, I did however take a snap outside when I visited last time.
The Castle Museum is situated along with the Crown courts, the building used to be the Old Female Prison and opened as The Castle Museum in 1938 in the area where the main body of the castle was, the only remaining part of the castle is the Keep (Cliffords Tower) which still stands on it's man made Motte.
The collection was started by a Local Doctor and the museums collection has grown rapidly since and soon outgrew the female prison and spread into what was once the old Debtors prison.
The museum has a recreated Victorian street called Kirkgate where you can experience the sights, sounds and the people of York from over a 100 years ago. You can go inside the shops and meet the people who work there. There is also Half Moon court, built in the shape of the old prison yard where you can see Edwardion Yory as it would have been in the first years of the 20th century.
The rest of the museum houses authentic household room scenes as well as toys and clothes from the past,
There are items in galleries from the Civil War and Second World War and you can also visit the Cell in what was the old County Gaol (later becoming the Debtors prison) where the now legendery highwayman Dick Turpin spent his final night before being taken to the Gallows.
Tickets last for a full year!
There is a cheaper option for one time entry only.
Child Free with a paying adult (includes concessionary adults)
Residents with a York Card - Free
Wheelchair user plus one carer - Free
Closed 25th and 26th December and 1st January
York’s main museum focuses on local as well as general English history from Tudor times on. Many rooms were refurbished to give an impression about different living styles throughout the centuries, including those of working class people as well as noblemen. Prison cells from the 18th century are preserved and are now part of the exhibition. The museum has permanent as well as temporary exhibitions, the temporary one at my time of visit was about the 1960s. One of the highlights among the permanent one is the Victorian street which includes some shops where you can buy sweets or other Victorian-style souvenirs. On this street even day and night are simulated (although the shops keep open at night) as well as good old English weather (you may hear the sound of thunderstorms as well as rain washing over the cobblestones at “night”).
The current building is the original court and prison building of the 18th century. It stands on the site of William the Conqueror’s former castle (hence the name) from which only nearby Clifford’s tower remains. 2 ½ hours is the minimum time for a museum visit, but you can easily spend four hours in it.
The York Castle Museum is housed in two 18th century prisons. The museum was opened in 1938 and it has a marvellous folk collection. This collection was started by Dr J. Kirk of Pickering (a market town not far from York). There are period displays including a moorland cottage and a Jacobean dining room and a 1950 front room. There are also many 20th century household gadgets. I think the best part of the museum is the reconstructed Victorian street of Kirkgate. It is complete with shop windows and a carriage horse. Photography for personal use is allowed around the museum, but the use of tripods may be restricted when the museum is busy.
The Museum is open daily from 9.30am until 5pm, except 25 and 26 December and 1 January. (It opens at 10am on Fridays during school term times) It closes early in the afternoon on 24 December and 31 December.
Tickets are valid for a whole year - so you can return again (and again)For these tickets you have to give your name and address. If you do not wish to do that then the day ticket is the same price as the year ticket:
Adult - £7.50
Child - £4
Under 5s - Free
Concessions - £6.50
Residents with a York Card - Free
Wheelchair users plus one carer - Free
Two adults with:
One child - £16.50
Two children - £20
& £3.50 per child after that
Joint tickets include entry to both the Yorkshire Museum and York Castle Museum - I think that is a better value ticket as both museums are really worth visiting.
Adult - £9.50
Child - £6
Under 5s - Free
Concessions - £8
Two adults with:
One child - £23.50
Two children - £29
& £5.50 per child after that
York doesn't have many public toilets. You can use the ones in the two Starbucks, and I found the one in the Castle Museum shop.
They do have a good array of books, about the area and history in general, and as shown in the main photo, a lovely old fashioned sweet shop.
It is situated around a pretty circle, with the old courts and debtors (?) prison and another building we could work out what it used to be, with Clifford's Tower opposite.