A visit to York Castle Museum

During our recent trip to York, we visited York Castle Museum in York, North Yorkshire. The museum is on the site of York Castle which was originally built by William the Conqueror in 1068. The museum is housed in the historical prison buildings which were built on the site of the castle in the 18th century, the debtors’ prison which was built in 1701 to 1705 and the female prison which was built in 1780 to 1785.

The museum was founded by John Lamplugh Kirk after he advertised for expressions of interest from sites who wished to house his large collection of items relating to the study of social history. York was the successful applicant and the York Corporation bought the Female Prison in 1934 and modified it to house Kirk’s collection. The York Castle Museum opened on 23 April 1938.

This post shares some of my photographs of the various galleries in the museum.

Toy stories – a history of children’s toys


This elaborate doll’s house is called Dulce Domum which means Sweet Home and belonged to an eight year old girl called Phyllis Dulce in 1895.


Puppets from a Punch and Judy street show. I never saw a show like this but I remember reading about them in What Katy Did Next by Susan Coolidge and thinking it sounded wonderful.

Kirkgate – a recreated Victorian Street, named after the museum’s founder


Michael and I standing beside a Victorian coach at Kirkgate


A replica of a jail cell at Kirkgate

1914: When the World Changed Forever – WW1


Michael crawling through a replica trench from World War 1

The Cells – a display about life in the prison


A selection of manacles from the cells and a cat-o-nine tails.

Recreated period rooms including a Victorian parlour and a 17th-century dining room

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A witch ball hangs in the window of this 1850s home, to ward off any evil.

Dick Turpin: the Untold Story

If you would like to learn more about the famous highwayman, Dick Turpin, you can read my post over at Sue Vincent’s lovely blog.



47 thoughts on “A visit to York Castle Museum

  1. I used to love the Castle Museum as a child… and I’m sure I recognise some of the exhibits. My closest, local museum was at Kirkstall when I was small and there too they had the recreated streets.

    1. It is a wonderful museum, Sue. One of the best I have ever visited. I must remember Kirkstall for our next visit. Thanks for sharing that.

        1. Another city I want to visit. I want to go to Bath, Glastonbury and Ireland next year but maybe the year thereafter.

  2. A terrific journey back in time Robbie! Great information and photos…I’m fascinated by the food aspect of life back then – I have read a book called “Taste: The Story Of Britain Through Its Cooking”…I need to make it a Wednesday Bookmobile!

    1. I would be very interested in that, John. I have a book about the origins of certain scone recipes which I bought in Birmingham. I must share it too.

        1. Hi Craig, thank you for finding me here. Unfortunately, Bake and Write has been a bit of a disaster. The host gave me endless issues and I decided to start over with new service providers. I am delighted with this site and all its features. It was exactly what I wanted.

  3. I love The York Castle Museum and have been to visit it a number of times. I have that same picture of me and my then 8 year old daughter in front of the coach! Love all of your pictures. It looked like such a great holiday. PS I love your new blog site!

    1. Thank you, Darlene. I expected comments to come to my email which is why I am late responding. It suddenly occurred to me that I would have to approve them the first time round. LOL.

      1. No worries. I was without my email for almost 2 weeks. Yikes. When I was finally able to access it I had 2200 emails to go through. So I am very behind. Are you home or still travelling?

        1. Hi Darlene, we are finally home for good [or until December at least]. I have enjoyed the travelling but it is nice to get back into routine.

  4. I am amazed by the doll’s house, Robbie. So many intricate details. I saw a Punch and Judy show when I was in London in 2014. I was appalled. It was incredibly violent and nasty, just as it had been years ago when I saw bits of it portrayed in movies and television shows. I thought they would have toned it down a bit for modern audiences.

    1. Hi Norah, I suppose Punch and Judy is a piece of English history which is why they haven’t changed it. I have only read about them. They did seem violent and discordant.

      1. I don’t think they suit modern audiences though, Robbie. Sometimes we need to move with the more enlightened times if we want to continue our existence.

  5. Great to see your museum adventures! And this post brought back great memories for me Robbie as I had a big doll house as a girl. I spent many hours playing with it.

  6. I’ve just come across this one, Robbie. You are certainly visiting a great variety of historic buildings and places. Good for you. We went to the one in York many years ago and found it very atmospheric. Enjoy your travels and take care. (A great experience for the lads too!) Hugs xx

    1. This was a superb museum, Joy. One of the best I have visited although most museums in the UK deliver an outstanding experience. Thanks for visiting.

  7. What a remarkable museum. I did see a Punch and Judy show on the shore at Ayr and was terrified. My dad was holding me in his arms. I stuffed the end of his tie in my mouth and worked my way up until I reached the knot at the top! Nearly strangled the poor man. I have no memory of that occasion but I’ve never enjoyed Punch and Judy.

    1. Sadly, I have never seen one, Mary. My main memory of Punch and Judy is from What Katy did Next by Susan Coolidge. I really like the sound of it and thought the puppets were interesting.

    1. Dunvegan was a great castle to visit, Debby, one of my favourites [together with Eileen Donan and Dover castles]. The history is incredible and so well preserved. Thanks for visiting.

        1. I did get some lovely story ideas, Debby. Scotland is rich in history most of which is frightening and bloody.

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