York Castle Museum

Ian Jones, Food and Drink Editor
York Castle Museum
Image courtesy of York Castle Museum

York Castle Museum, Tower St,, York, YO1 9RY – Visit Now

York Castle Museum is based on the site of York Castle, which was originally built by William the Conqueror in 1068. The museum itself was launched in 1938 and is based in the prison buildings which were built on the site in the 18th century, including the debtors’ prison and the female prison – which should appeal to fans of England’s grisly past.

Visitors can experience life in a real 18th-century lockup and meet famous highwayman Dick Turpin

With this in mind, children who love the macabre (that’s all of them, then) will make a beeline for York Debtor’s Prison, where visitors get to experience life in a real 18th-century lockup and meet famous highwayman Dick Turpin, amongst other occupants. Turpin’s cell, from when he was jailed here in the 1730s, forms a key part of this exhibition.

And there are plenty of other exhibitions to get your teeth into. There’s the famous Kirkgate, the oldest recreated indoor street of its kind, depicting a Victorian street in painstaking detail, where you can literally walk through a bygone time. Then there’s the similarly immersive ‘1914: When The World Changed Forever’ exhibition which takes visitors from the pre-war world into the terror of the First World War front itself, via a recruitment office and a train journey.

Meanwhile, Toy Stories and Shaping The Body explore more everyday details of life through the ages. All the exhibitions draw on a vast collection of costumes and artefacts, cleverly displayed to bring out their stories.

There’s the famous Kirkgate, the oldest recreated indoor street of its kind, depicting a Victorian street in painstaking detail

Even better, the multiple award-winning York Castle Museum is undergoing a major £18m redevelopment, as part of the Castle Gateway Project, which promises to bring even more captivating elements to this must-visit part of York’s rich cultural tapestry.