York is a cathedral city with Roman origins, sited at the confluence of the rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. It is a historic county town in Yorkshire. The city has many historic buildings and other structures, such as a minster, castle, and city walls.
We have been to York many times over the years, and one of the places we keep coming back to is the York Castle Museum, which is located right next to Clifford’s Tower.
York Castle Museum was founded by Dr John Kirk, a doctor from Pickering, North Yorkshire, and houses his extraordinary collection of social history, reflecting everyday life in the county.
One of its renowned displays is the reconstructed street, Kirkgate, that has been hugely influential in museums displays worldwide. The York Castle Museum is housed in a former debtors’ prison and an adjoining former women’s prison, both of which are Grade I listed. The museum’s name comes from the fact it stands on the site of the former York Castle.
The museum has two wings with a number of permanent and temporary exhibitions.
The period rooms at York Castle Museum show how rooms would have looked in earlier times, from a crofter’s cottage to homes in the 1970s.
SHAPING THE BODY: 400 YEARS OF FASHION, FOOD AND LIFE
An iron corset, crotchless pantaloons from the time of Jane Austen, bum rolls and a killer dress are a few of the items featured in the museum’s latest permanent exhibition which charts the way fashion, food and fitness have shaped the body over the last 400 years.
KIRKGATE: THE VICTORIAN STREET
The street is one of the oldest recreated indoor streets of its kind in the world, possibly the oldest, and the first to be opened in Britain. It was created by Dr John Lamplugh Kirk, the founder of the Castle Museum. Named after him, it formed the centrepiece of the museum when it opened in 1938.
Dr Kirk wanted to create a street scene where people felt that they were transported to a bygone age. When it first opened, many shops and locations were named after people who had helped to found the museum.
1914: WHEN THE WORLD CHANGED FOREVER
From the pre-war golden age of peace and prosperity visitors are sent to the recruitment office and travel via train to the horrors of the frontline – from rats to foot rot, shell shock to gas warfare. Back home, daily life in Britain was changing beyond recognition while around the world millions would die as Europe’s empires clashed in the first truly global conflict.
Household exhibits include food packaging, clothes, electrical items, toys, records and more. Visitors can listen to memories of the decade via special telephones, listen to music on a Jukebox and watch television and film footage from the time.
YORK CASTLE PRISON
York Castle Museum is housed in 18th-century prison buildings. Now you can get a flavour of what life was really like in the original cells and see some of the most infamous inmates brought to life in this exhibition.
Experience a brutal and crooked prison and meet our most notorious prisoner: the legendary highwayman, Dick Turpin. York Castle Prison focuses on the lives of eight former inmates, including Turpin.
The others include the last woman to be burnt at the stake in Yorkshire, a Luddite, a notorious turnkey, a man who was beaten so badly in prison he died and a young tearaway who went on to lead a successful life in Australia.
Planning your visit to the Castle Museum
Tower St, York YO1 9RY
Getting to York by train is both easy and great value for money. LNER and Grand Central will bring you to York in under two hours, while Edinburgh is only two and a half hours away. There are direct services from Birmingham and the South West and additionally, TransPennine Express runs direct train services from Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle.
On average, the bus takes approximately 5 hours and 10 minutes to get from London to York. The fastest journey by bus from London to York is 4 hours and 45 minutes, however, your journey time may vary depending on traffic conditions along the route.
Situated midway between Edinburgh and London, just 20 minutes from the M1/M62 motorway network, York is within comfortable driving times of most regions in the UK. To make your trip to York even more convenient, six Park & Ride sites currently operate in York. They allow you to travel to York by car, park for free in secure car parks and complete your journey into the city centre by bus.
|Telephone:||T: +44 1904 687687|
|Hours:||Open Monday, 11am-5pm and Tuesday – Sunday, 10am-5pm|
In School holidays, open 10am – 5pm on Mondays
During holidays the hours may vary so check the website
|Fees:||Adult – £13 online / £14 Walk up price;|
Young Person / Students – £11.70 / £12.60 walk up price;
Child (5 to 16 years) – £6.50 online / £7 walk-up price
Under 5 – Free
Best time to visit York
York is a beautifully preserved historic city that has earned its place as one of the UK’s top tourist attractions. With sites like the National Railway Museum, York Minster – one of the largest cathedrals in northern Europe – and The Shambles, the most famous of York’s charming cobblestone streets, visiting this ancient city is almost like taking a trip back in time. The perfect destination for history lovers, the city also offers some great dining options and some interesting shopping in the cobbled streets of York city center.
But as a northern city, York gets four distinct seasons, and each has something different to offer. So when’s the best time to visit York? Well, that’s going to depend on what you want to do in the city. If you want the best weather possible, the hottest months of summer might be what you’re after. But if you prefer cultural activities in this historic city, you can skip the busy summer months and brave the cooler weather of fall or even winter.
Other things to do in York
1. NATIONAL RAILWAY MUSEUM
The museum tells the story of rail transport in Britain and its impact on society. It is the home of the national collection of historically significant railway vehicles such as Mallard, Stirling Single, Duchess of Hamilton and a Japanese bullet train. In addition, the National Railway Museum holds a diverse collection of other objects, from a household recipe book used in George Stephenson’s house to film showing a “never-stop railway” developed for the British Empire Exhibition. It has won many awards, including the European Museum of the Year Award in 2001.
2. JORVIK VIKING CENTRE
At JORVIK Viking Centre you are standing on the site which revealed some of the most astounding discoveries in modern archaeology. Your first experience at JORVIK is an exploration of the Coppergate Dig, with a fully immersive display taking you back to the 1970s.
The Jorvik’s interactive ride takes you around 10th-century York city, experiencing what it was like living in the city. The sights, sounds and even the smells of the Viking Age are brought vividly back to life as you journey back 1,000 years. There is also an exhibit of rare Viking artefacts, from delicate earrings and socks to frying pans and padlocks and even a fossilised Viking poo!
3. TREASURER”S HOUSE
This house was the residence of the treasurers of York Minster from 1100 until the office was abolished by Henry VIII. It belonged to 3 post-Reformation Archbishops of York, the last of whom, Thomas Young, rebuilt it. Further alterations were made in the early 17th century; the building fell into decline during the 19th century by which time Young’s mansion had been split into at least five separate properties. The present garden front with its classical central entrance bay dates from c.1630. It now contains the furniture collection of the wealthy industrialist and aesthete Frank Green, who restored and remodelled the building after acquiring it in 1897. Inside, Green’s architect, Temple Moore, created a huge hall out of the 2-storey central block with a half-timbered gallery supported by classical columns. There is an early 18th-century staircase that has been attributed to the joiner-architect William Thornton, who worked at Beningbrough.
4. YORK MINSTER
Since the 7th century, the Minster has been at the centre of Christianity in the north of England and today remains a thriving church rooted in the daily offering of worship and prayer. The Minster was built for the glory of God. Every aspect of this ancient building – from the exquisite, handcrafted stone through to the unrivalled collection of medieval stained glass – tells the story of Jesus Christ.
5. CLIFFORD’S TOWER
Clifford’s Tower is the largest remaining building of York Castle, northern England’s greatest medieval royal fortress. With a spectacular new update for 2022 including a dramatic roofdeck, internal walkways and soundscape interpretation – the fascinating story of Clifford’s Tower will finally be told
The tower offers unrivalled views over the ancient city whilst the new interpretation makes the tower’s history and interior more accessible than they’ve been for centuries, bringing its dramatic and sometimes tragic story to life as never before.
Standing as a proud symbol of the power of England’s medieval kings; the tower was originally built by William the Conqueror to subdue the rebels of the north, it was twice burned to the ground, before being rebuilt by Henry III in the 13th century.
Where to stay
1. YHA YORK HOSTEL
York YHA is a large hostel housed in a converted manor house in the Clifton area of York with spacious, leafy grounds. The hostel had a £2 million renovation in 2013.
It currently has 203 beds in 45 rooms and 32 rooms are en-suite. Private en-suite rooms can sleep between 4 and 6 people and are accessed by a key card.
There is a well stocked kitchen, a large lounge and games room plus an onsite restaurant and free WiFi on site.
York YHA is a friendly hostel but it is not a party hostel and attracts many groups and business people. It is a perfect choice for visiting York with kids as the hostel is adjacent to Homestead Park and playground.
The hostel offers free parking on site – a rarity in York – and a bike store.
2. THE JORVIK HOUSE
Dating back to the 1750s and overlooking the 11th-century church of St Olafs and the remains of St Mary’s Abbey, Jorvik House has a 24-hour front desk and a bar. Free WiFi is provided throughout the property.
All rooms have en-suite facilities with a bath and shower over or walk-in shower. Complimentary toiletries are provided. The rooms feature a flat-screen TV with Freeview, tea/coffee making facilities and Egyptian cotton sheets. A continental breakfast is available in the morning.
York Rail Station is 10 minutes’ walk from the Jorvik and York Museum Gardens is just over 5 minutes’ walk away.
3. GALTRES LODGE HOTEL
Overlooking the spectacular York Minster, this elegant Georgian residence is set in the heart of the historic city centre, just a short stroll away from medieval streets lined with modern boutiques.
Situated in the heart of York’s café quarter, within easy reach of the city’s many attractions, Galtres Lodge provides the perfect base for your stay with Wi-Fi internet, comfortable rooms and delicious brasserie-style meals.
The friendly and efficient staff aim to offer you the best personal service in order to ensure a memorable and enjoyable stay