York Castle Museum

Welcome to York Castle Museum

York Castle Museum

Download our 2012/13 information leaflet here

York Castle Museum is one of Britain's leading museums of everyday life. It shows how people used to live by displaying thousands of household objects and by recreating rooms, shops, streets - and even prison cells.

The new chemists

The new chemists' shop on Kirkgate

It is best known for its recreated Victorian street, Kirkgate, which has been made bigger during 2012 with new backstreets to explore, more goods on display and real stories of York people and businesses to discover.

The street was named after the museum's founder, Dr John L. Kirk, a North Yorkshire country doctor who collected everyday objects and wanted to keep them safe for future generations.

The museum's room settings include a Victorian parlour, an 1850s Moorland cottage, Jacobean and Georgian dining rooms, a 1940s kitchen and a 1950s front room.

The Sixties gallery

The Sixties

Our grooviest gallery, The Sixties, explores the music, fashion and everyday life of this exciting decade.

Elsewhere are displays of historic toys, fashion, armour, weapons, tools, printing presses, cooking utensils, farming equipment and much more.

The museum's past as two prison buildings is explored in York Castle Prison, where visitors come face to face with ex-prisoners including highwayman Dick Turpin, who was hanged in 1739 for horse stealing.

York Castle Prison

York Castle Prison

Conditions in the overcrowded prison were harsh and brutal and the real stories of the prisoners and staff are told in sometimes gruesome detail.

Turpin spent his last six months in the Debtors' Prison, which was built in 1701-5, and today houses half of the museum's displays. The other half of the museum was originally the Female Prison, built in 1780-83.

The museum, which opened in 1938, was named after the former York Castle, which stood on the site.

Raindale Mill and the riverside area

Raindale Mill and the riverside area

Remains of the former Castle walls can be seen outside the museum next to the River Foss and our Victorian watermill, Raindale Mill.

Work has taken place in Spring 2012 to restore the mill and the nearby riverside area and the waterwheel can be seen in action again on many weekends, between 11am and 1pm - but please check before visiting to avoid disappointment.

What our Visitors Think

"We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Castle Museum. We were perhaps half expecting a dull museum with dusty artefacts, but what we got was a really interesting and nostalgic trip back in time. We will definitely be making a return trip in the near future."

Visitor to York Castle Museum