York Castle Museum is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, even though I seemed to be sharing it with half of Yorkshire’s school children on their day out. The Museum is built on the site of what was originally York’s Norman castle but that has long gone. In its place was built the prison, which now houses the museum’s collection.
It is difficult to describe York Castle Museum. Perhaps it could be best described as a museum of everyday life in York across the ages. One section of the museum houses various rooms decorated with objects from a particular time. Above is a Yorkshire farmhouse from the early twentieth century. The dog is a nice feature and quite a testament to the taxidermist’s art.
A 1950s front room in a 1930s semi-detached house. I swear that this is almost exactly like the front room at my Great Auntie Elsie’s. She is 92 and moved into her house in Wembley in 1950. I half expected her to shuffle into the room with her tea tray.
A 16th century dining room.
This section explored the life of people in the 19th and 20th centuries from birth to death. There were Victorian forceps, children’s toys, gruesome information about deadly diseases that killed children, wedding dresses, even coffins of every shape and size including a rather fetching wicker coffin that resembled an oversize picnic hamper.
You can go into some of the shops and talk to the proprietors who will tell you some of their history.
This part of the museum has only recently reopened and Kirkgate now also has a back alley that shows the life of the Victorian poor. Yes, the attention to detail is amazing – even down to that chamber pot (and its contents).
There is another wing of the Museum that houses a lot of military history as well as other exhibitions. You can also go down into the original prison cells and learn about life as a Victorian prisoner.
Give yourself at least two hours to see it properly.