We love a living history museum and so York Castle Museum was high on our list of places to visit when we ventured to Yorkshire in the Easter holidays. Right in the heart of York City Centre, it’s easily accesible and a great educational day out for the whole family.
What is York Castle Museum?
York Castle Museum showcases over 400 years of York’s past. It lets you step back in time from the world renowned Victorian street Kirkgate through to prison cells and all the way through to the swinging sixties. It pretty much shows the whole of York’s history in one place.
The Castle Museum York galleries hold thousands of historic objects that bring the past to life. Our visit started in a Victorian home, being able to look in to rooms of an era long gone by. Seeing the homes of different classes through the years. It was both nostalgic and eye opening.
We then found ourselves in Toy Stories, where you take a trip back to childhood and rediscover some of your favourite toys. We loved showing the children toys from our childhood. There are bikes, bath toys, computer games, Lego, beautiful handmade dolls and even a carousel among the toys on show from the last 150 years.
Shaping the Body: 400 Years of Fashion, Food & Life
We then explored the new exhibition – Shaping the Body: 400 Years of Fashion, Food & Life.This had so many exhibits related to fashion from an iron corset to crotchless pantaloons from the time of Jane Austen. It really showcased how body image and fashion have changed over the last 400 years.
Kirkgate, The Victorian Street
We then found ourselves on Kirkgate, The Victorian Street. Although this was more like a section of town than just a street. There were shops, back alleys, people and vehicles making it feel like a real step in time. It gives a glimpse into the lives of both the rich and the poor, with so many goods on display.
It was such an immersive experience, with the lights going from night to day, letting you see Kirkgate at different times. There were noises of the time like crying babies and horses on the cobbled streets as well as an authentic Victorian smell. That is something not for the faint hearted – I thought they had a problem with their toilets!
1914: When the World Changed Forever
The museum then moved on to the war with 1914: When the World Changed Forever. Marking the centenary of the First World War, the exhibition features objects from the military, costume and social history collections. There are films to see, audio clips and even tunnels for the children to climb through!
York Castle Prison
We found ourselves outside briefly, in the grounds of York Castle Prison where the children happily took photos at the stocks! York Castle Museum is actually housed in 18th century prison buildings and the visit continues through the original prison cells where you can find out about the most infamous inmates, what life was like in the prison and the sorts of things people did to end up in prison in the first place.
The last part of You Castle Museum is a bright and colourful exhibition dedicated to The Sixties. It is home to so many iconic objects from social history, art, fashion, military and astronomy collections, showing really vividly how life changed in the 60s. It had never been so colourful!
York Castle Museum was a great place to visit and although we only spent a few hours there you could easily stay all day. With a cafe on site, it’s a great day out and something the children really enjoyed. It was great to see a real life Victorian street and we’re glad we took the time to visit.
Tickets to York Castle Museum give entry for 12 months. Find out more and book your tickets over on the York Castle Museum website and for reference, the address is: Tower Street, York YO1 9RY. Here are some suggestions if you’re looking for more things to do in York on your next trip to the city too.