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.
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