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A visit to Ripon Museums - What to Expect




We visited Ripon at the weekend and we have really been wanting to visit the museums for a while, so we thought we would take advantage of the Lottery Open week offer (not available now) and visit. We love Ripon and the surrounding areas and visit often. This year we have planned to explore more of the area, visiting all of the fab attractions. We visited the Workhouse & Gardens, The Prison Museum & Courtroom Museum.

Read on to find out more


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The Workhouse Museum & Gardens

This was our first stop as it was open first, we really enjoyed this museum and it really does tell the story of how the poor lived in the Victorian era. This museum will take you around 2 hours to look around if you take your time and read everything. We would visit again as we did enjoy our visit and I would love to see the kitchen garden throughout the year. Elliot enjoyed the school room and found it really interesting, asking questions which we love. Find out more about the museum HERE


Walk the footsteps of the Victorian poor in this carefully maintained Workhouse museum.

Before the welfare system was introduced, those without means would end up in the workhouse.

The visit starts in the original gatehouse building, where you can follow an inmates journey from admittance, bathing, fumigation process, mortuary and the cells (which were really quite small) They also used to house vagrants, who were allowed to stay for 2 nights and then couldn't return for 30 days. They still did this until 1960. I found the whole food side fascinating. In 1834 a new poor law was created to ease the cost of looking after the poor. Strict rules were placed on what and how much they could eat and scales kept in the inmates dining room were used when inmates questioned the portion size. A diet consisted of:

Breakfast & Supper - 7oz bread with either 1 pint of porridge or 2oz of cheese

Lunch - Could be 5oz cooked meat, 12oz potatoes, 6oz bread, 1 pint of soup, 16oz meat & potatoes pie, 14oz suet or rice pudding. Women and children has less then men and the elderly had tea, sugar and butter. Come 1914-1923 the diet had more variety. How grim was that diet? I suppose they at least had something to line their stomach.


You then head to the main block which has the masters study, dining room, pantry, classroom, inmate dining room, master & matron front garden and the original Victorian workhouse kitchen garden which uses original 1860s techniques. This is a short circular walk and is accessible we loved the garden.


Parking outside of the museum (limited) however we always use the main car park which is located at St Marygate. (HG4 1LX) We find this car park is very handy as it is within walking distance of everything. The attractions are well sign posted so you can't get lost.


No Café in any of the museums but there are plenty of options in the market square for food. Cheese straws are a must from Thomas the Bakers when we visit!


Accessible toilets on site and the museum is accessible to most with only 2 rooms on the top floor of the gatehouse (there is a lift, this was not working when we visited)

There is a small gift shop here to buy bits and pieces.


Maps were given out to help you make your way around the main building and audio guides are available.

I would recommend buying a ticket to see all of the museums as this is better value,

Family ticket - £36 to visit all three museums. This lasts for a full year, which is great value! For just the Workhouse Museum it is £10 per adult £9 per child (no family tickets available)

Keep scrolling past the pictures for other museums


The Police & Prison Museum

Next stop was The Prison museum, the boys enjoyed this museum which was full of policing memorabilia in an old police station with cells. I thought the fingerprints through time section was really interesting and I can not believe they even caught anyone using some of the prints they got.


If you ever wondered what punishment was like in Victorian times then this is the place to be! Formerly Ripon Liberty prison and the Ripon police station.

White washed cells, barred windows are a theme here and to the ground floor is the history of policing in Yorkshire from Anglo Saxon to the formation of the Policing. Upstairs it is all about crime & punishment with some hands on activities. I would say to allow around an hour to see and read everything here, we didn't spend an hour here but that was because it was too busy and cramped and Toby has Sensory Processing disorder and couldn't cope with the noise from all of the people. When you arrive you head into the prison yard and then into the museum. The cells are numbered so you can easily make your way around the cells.

No Café

Accessible toilet and lift available

Small shop

Tickets just for this museum - £8.50 per Adult & £6 per child

Keep scrolling past the pictures for other museums


The Courthouse Museum

The smallest museum, it is really interesting actually and is in fantastic condition.

Find out what happened in a courtroom in the 1800s and find out more about the Liberty of Ripon. The museum is a Georgian courthouse, which remains unchanged since it was built in 1830. Following the closure of the Magistrates court in 1998 it was then opened as a museum a year later.

There are three rooms to look around including The Jury room, containing lots of lovely old books from 18th/19th century and 2 halberds.

The Justice retiring room with past magistrates portraits and the dreadful cat o' nine tails which was a form of punishment. Leather whip with strands on the end each strand has bits of lead for maximum pain.

Courtroom which contains three boxes where the criminal would stand right next to the witness! They even had little steps so small children could stand on them and receive punishment which would include Hard labour, fines or even transported to Australia.


Tickets for just this museum £4.50 per Adult / £3.75 per child

No café, No toilets (toilets are just outside) this museum is not suitable for those with wheelchairs or pushchairs due to steps, and tight corners.

You can find out more about visit the three museums HERE including ticket info and accessibility info

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