York Castle Museum.

February 01, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Decided to visit the York Castle Museum while in York on Friday 29th January 2016. The Castle Museum opened in 1938 and is located in what used to be the old castle prison. The museum tells a story of what life was like from early Victorian age, through to 1914 and the First World War all the way up to the 1960's. 

After paying the £10.00 entry fee I went to the first floor in the left wing which was home to the Period Rooms and the Toy Gallery. All seemed to start of well, but then things changed. As most of the photos I was going to be taking involved long shutter speeds due to the light conditions (and not wanting to use high ISO for better image quality) I had to use my tripod. On the first two exhibits The Georgian Drawing Room and The Victorian Parlour I managed to use my tripod with no problems. It was while taking photos of  The Victorian Parlour did I have a member of staff approach me saying I wasn't allowed to use my tripod as this would damage the floor. I had to double check this as wasn't 100% sure if he was telling me the truth or using that as an excuse, but was told the same thing by a different member of staff. Still a little surprised by that I continued to take photos, but this time I had to use either the flat railings in front of the exhibits, or find other flat objects I could use as a tripod. 

The Georgian Drawing Room at York Castle Museum.

 The Georgian Drawing Room Exhibit. 

The Victorian Parlour Room at York Castle Museum.  The Victorian Parlour.

17th Century Tudor Dining Room.

1950's Living Room1950's Living Room1950's living room at York Castle Museum. 1950's Living Room in The Toy Gallery.


The next section of the museum was the replica Victorian Street called Kirkgate. This street is a replica of a street in York with shops dating from 1870-1901. As you walk into Kirkgate the small streets open up into one large long street complete with a replica horse and carriage, and comes to live with the help of staff dressed up in period costume, and special effects from sound effects to lighting effects. The street also goes dark to replica the night time, along with thunder and lightning. Each shop is a full replica of what the shop had looked like both outside and inside. Along with replica items that would have been sold.

KirkgateKirkgateThe Victorian Street in the York Castle Museum. Kirkgate - Victorian Street.

Inside the Pharmacist on Kirkgate.

Kirkgate also shows the poverty in York during Victorian times which can be seen in Rowntree Alley. These little back streets recreated what it was like for the poorer people of York, and showed how they lived and worked.

Rowntree Alley Living Room.

Rowntree Alley Undertakers.

With this section of the museum completed it was time to walk over to the other side of the museum. The first section was on the first floor and was the 1914 World War One exhibit. This told the story of life for both people at war and families at home. This took you on a journey from life before the war, to the recruitment office and travel via train to the front line. Further into the museum were the mock trenches, weapons, uniforms and the area was also brought to life by the use of sound effects of gun fire and soldiers on the front line. This exhibit will run to the end of 2018.

Beside The Sea - Life in 1914 before the war.

From here I was taken back down stairs and out into the courtyard which held two exhibits. Gallows which was used to hang the prisoners, and the stocks. It was a shame that no effort was made with this area to create the atmosphere of what it would have been like when the prisoner was marched out from his cell to the courtyard and taken to the gallows or put into the stocks. I got the impression that these two were just left out here and maybe only used on special event days.

Gallows and Stocks.

Luckily on my visit today the Raindale Mill was open to visitors. Access to this area was just in the corner of the courtyard and took you outside the museum, but still within the perimeter fence. Raindale Mill was a Victorian watermill that originally served Newton-upon-Rawcliffe and surrounding villages, and was brought to the museum in the 1960's. In 2012 this area was revamped for the public, and sadly due to the time of year of my visit there wasn't really much to see from the garden area around the mill. This is an area that you would benefit from visiting during the summer.

Raindale Mill and Castle Remains.

The final part of the museum held The Sixties and York Castle Prison. The Sixties exhibit was a small exhibition featuring many classic 1960's icons from pop groups and music, to toys and entertainment. It's aim is to recreate the spirit of a decade which saw momentous change to many areas of the way of living. They have a juke box where visitors can pay to listen to popular tunes from the 1960's while taking in the displays of food packaging, clothes, toys and many more items from this era. 

After you had visited the 1960's the last area of the museum took you into the York Castle Prison. This was where the famous Dick Turpin was held after being charged with horse theft. The prison is split into three areas. "Transported", "Released", and "Condemed". Each room told a story from the past and gave the visitor information on who was in which cell, what crime they had committed and their punishment. With the use of technology and projectors, each cell had a video projected on the cell wall of the person who once used to call that cell their home. A actor would recreate that person, and tell the story of their life and time within the prison.More can be found by visiting their website at www.yorkcastleprison.org.uk

I enjoyed my overall visit to the museum and spent a good couple of hours there. I would rate this museum 7/10, as there were a few areas that could have been a little better, and also I don't believe a tripod would ruin the floor.

If you wish to visit the York Castle Museum visit their website for all details on price, opening times and location at www.yorkcastlemuseum.org.uk










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