Hedgehog Corridor in the Workhouse Garden

Hedgehogs are a quintessential part of the British Countryside but find themselves in danger, with numbers dropping. This video shows what the Workhouse Garden Volunteers, along with the RHS and a local school, have been doing lately to improve the Garden to make it a much more welcoming home for our spikey little friends. Another appearance too from our growing local celebrity gardener Nick Thompson.

Hedgehog Corridor Video on Youtube 

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Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

Sunday 28th June witnessed our Mad Hatter's Tea Party, to celbrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. A whole range of activities took place, including a Punch & Judy show, croquet on the lawn and an escapology attempt.

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Noble Bloods

 Noble Bloods exhibition.



Since graduating from the University of Sunderland with an MA in Fine Art in 2007 and another in Curatorial Practice in 2008, Louise Marchal has continued her creative practice as an artist alongside research for her recent book Finding Frances - the biography of Frances Darlington (sculptor). This resulted in a body of work inspired by themes found through the research. Following investigations into Frances's experimentation with polychromy, (the practice adding colour to sculpture), Louise recognised parallels in her own work. Predominantly a painter she had begun to work with three dimensional objects which she made from card screen printed with her own designs. Monument to Obscurity, a work about the biography itself, featured both domestic and professional elements of Frances's life and was bound with a tapestry cover which was copied from a painting by Frances's mother who is also known to have been a talented painter.  A lantern book, when fully open it forms a pentagram star, alluding to the idea of fame. (Despite selling work internationally and winning significant public commissions, Frances died in relative obscurity).


In 1897 Frances was a promising young sculptor, one of the so-called golden era of the Slade where she was taught by Sir George Frampton (Lamia, Peter Pan). Her contemporaries included Gwen and Augustus John, William Orpen and Edna Clarke-Hall. John and Orpen were founders of the Chelsea School of Art on Manresa Road, and this sprung the idea of the British notion of "artist" as having a geographical element which centred in Chelsea.  From 1934-9 Frances also had a studio on Manresa Road at Wentworth Studios. Louise's resulting work: I Stole the King's Road comprises a small theatrical assemblage with a looped projection of a journey down the King's Road incorporating its artists and cultural landmarks. Augustus John Leaves the Pheasantry existed as both artwork and promotional vehicle for the previous work. A limited edition of 28 unique screen prints these featured an illustration inspired by the pantomime posters from the turn of the 20th century. Now, with Arts Council funding Louise is to produce a piece in response to a single piece of Frances's work, The St. George's Police Orphanage World War One memorial held by Ripon Police Museum. A bas-relief sculpture with paint and gold leaf, it features St. George allied with St. Joan of Arc in an idealistic patriotism against "the infidel". To contemporary eyes the piece provides some challenging material and through the installation the artist seeks to respond to the idea of memorial whilst exploring the shifts in social, gender and aesthetic norms.

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Bobby on a Bike

Bobby on a Bike!

Saturday 29 March to Sunday 10 August
Prison & Police Museum, Ripon


A new exhibition at Ripon’s Prison and Police Museum, ‘Bobby on a Bike’ celebrates the role that bicycles have played in patrolling our streets over the years.


Take a closer look at a fantastic selection of historic police bikes, including a rather uncomfortable looking 1950’s Raleigh complete with a Lucas ‘King of the Road’ bell, leather saddle and original inner tubes! A far cry from the carbon framed thoroughbreds which will be racing across Yorkshire’s roads this summer as part of Le Tour Yorkshire’s Grand Départ 2014…



As well as a superb display of police bicycles over the decades, discover more about the lives of bobbys and their bikes through memories, vintage photographs, and a host of archive documents (from lubrication charts to newspaper clippings) which reveal a treasure trove of facts.


The introduction of Police Bicycles in the latter end of the 19th Century was a large step in improving the mobility of Police Constables where patrolling their beats as prior to this they had to walk everywhere. Only Inspectors and higher ranks had the benefit of old fashioned four legged horsepower.


Ralph B. Lindley, Vice President of Ripon Museums Trust comments:

“This exhibition explores the use of bicycles and other pedal powered contraptions by the Police from their introduction through to the start of the 21st Century. I feel sure our visitors will enjoy this display - I still smile when I look at some of them!”


The Prison & Police Museum, is in the former House of Correction and Liberty Gaol and contains a fascinating selection of artefacts from the Trust's extensive collections of police and prison memorabilia - from pillorys and whipping posts to a prisoner in a Victorian Cell. Find what it is like to be in a cell, what punitive exercises which were used in prisons and lots more!

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Menwith Hill Marines to scrub floors at Ripon’s Workhouse

Its all hands on deck as Marines from Menwith Hill volunteer to give Ripon’s three museums a deep clean before they reopen at February half-term.


The list of tasks the volunteers will be tackling range from mopping floors and dusting lampshades to dusting down the cobwebs and polishing brass knobs at not one but three museums, all in a weekend! The ‘Prison and Police Museum’, ‘The Courthouse Museum’ and ‘Workhouse Museum & Gardens’ will be looking spick and span when they re-open, in time for half term, on Saturday 15 February.


“ We are looking forward to the experience of finding out more about the history and having the opportunity to help out where we can” comments Will Hess, NIOC Menwith Hill.


Ripon’s three museums will be open every day from Saturday February 15th to Sunday 30 November:

The grim atmosphere of the Workhouse Museum (open 11am- 4pm), housed in the former Gatehouse, has been carefully maintained in order to give visitors a sense of what life in a Victorian Workhouse could have been.
The Prison & Police Museum (open 1-4pm), is in the former House of Correction and Liberty Gaol and contains a fascinating selection of artefacts from the Trust's extensive collections of police and prison memorabilia - from pillorys and whipping posts to a prisoner in a Victorian Cell.
Discover what being the Liberty of Ripon meant at the Courthouse Museum (open 1-4pm) and learn about what happened in a courtroom in the 1800s.

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Happy Birthday Dr Who

Ripon Museum Trust has spent the summer restoring the inside of their replica 1950’s Scarborough Police Box and it will be free to visit on Saturday 23 November from 1pm – 4.30pm on ‘World Doctor Who Day’.


“The inside has been restored so that visitors to the Prison and Police Museum can understand what Police boxes were for and why they were needed “said Sue Dalton Head of Museums for Ripon Museum Trust. “We have also had a bit of fun with this display and included a interactive period telephone and blue flashing light so that visitors can experience the full effects”


All three of the Trust museums will be open and free for the day as part of Ripon Christmas Lights celebrations


Visitors can see the Workhouse decorated for Christmas as recorded in the workhouse records of 1892.

The workhouse will host a ‘pop up’ Christmas café will be open throughout the day for tasty homemade cakes and refreshments. Visitors can enjoy rag rugging demonstrations and then have a go themselves guided by our costumed volunteers.


At the Courthouse there will be a ‘pop up’ Christmas shop from 1pm until 4.30pm  

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Mug Shots Temporary Exhibition

‘Mug Shots’
Temporary Exhibition at The Prison & Police Museum,
St Marygate, Ripon
until 30th November 2013.
Opening times:
Until 2 Sept: every day 10am-4pm
From 3 Sept – 30 November every day from 1- 4pm

This is an exhibition of previously unseen criminal records from Ripon Museum Trust’s archive presenting photographs (mug shots) taken between 1877 and 1930.
The exhibition presents records and images from our collection of North Yorkshire Criminal Records. These include, Ripon Liberty Court Record Book 1915 – 1926;
records saved from Gainsborough Police station and a large record book from Scarborough Police Station, which has over 750 records dating from 1908 to 1932 . 

We do not know much more than the records tell us about the people pictured and we are interested to see if any visitors could help us to find out more; we ask any visitor recognising any names or faces to let us know.

Chief Constable of North Yorkshire, Dave Jones, said on opening the exhibition:
“This is a truly fascinating insight into how police investigations and methods of tracing suspects have evolved over the past 130 years or so.

“Preserving and bringing to life the rich history of the police service is very important to demonstrate how we, as a society, have developed our modern day system of law and order.

“I congratulate the team at the museum for their outstanding efforts, and I hope the people of North Yorkshire and beyond take the opportunity to view the new exhibition and everything else the Prison and Police Museum has to offer.”

The museums are open to individual visitors, groups and school parties during the opening hours given above. We also open at other times by prior arrangement for group and school visits.

For further information please contact Ripon Museum Trust Office:
01765 690799
[email protected]

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Secrets from the Workhouse

Secrets From the Workhouse  - Tuesday 25th June and 2nd July at 21.00 on ITV

In Victorian society the workhouse represented the underbelly of society, where anyone who was poor, homeless, unemployed or ill was sent to live.

With no benefits system in place, destitute people were either left to starve on the streets or forced to submit themselves to the harsh conditions of the workhouse where they worked ten hours a day doing menial tasks such as breaking rocks up or picking apart ropes.

Now, in this brand-new two part series, presenter Fern Britton, actress Kiera Chaplin, actor Brian Cox, actress Felicity Kendal and author Barbara Taylor Bradford go back to the sites of the workhouses where their ancestors lived to find out what happened to them.

In the first episode, Fern Britton is shocked to discover one of her ancestors was dissected for medical research because his family couldn’t afford a funeral for him.

Brian Cox learns that his great grandfather was branded a malingerer by the workhouse when they refused to believe he was really ill.

Barbara Taylor Bradford discovers her grandmother was forced into the workhouse to give birth to two illegitimate children.

And Kiera Chaplin discovers her grandfather, Charlie, was sent to a school for poor children when his mother was taken away from him and put in a mental asylum.

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Grand Victorian Garden Party

• For the first time Ripon Museum Trust is holding a Grand Victorian Garden Party in the grounds of the Workhouse Museum on Sunday 23 June from 2pm - 4pm. Volunteers will be dressed in their Victorian Sunday best and serving homemade cakes and scones.

• Visitors will have the chance to work off their cream teas with ‘Bash the Rat’ game, or win a coconut on our Coconut Shy stall and try out our wet sponge stocks!  There will be also more genteel lawn games such as croquet, hoopla and music provide by Trinity Quartet.

• The Workhouse Kitchen Garden (which was restored in 2009) will be open and Head Gardener Nick Thompson  said; “I am is looking forward to talking about the heritage vegetables that we grow here as well as showing off our wild flower meadow. The garden is a real hidden gem of Ripon”

• The Workhouse Museum is open every day from 11am until 4pm. Normal admission charges apply and there is no need to book, everyone is welcome.

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Samuel Winn

Samuel WINN, Ripon Liberty Police Officer.
When he had been appointed in 1830 as the first professional and uniformed Police Officer for the Liberty of Ripon in 1830 he was paid a salary of £30 per annum and this was raised to £30 per quarter in 1832.  One wonders what he had done to merit such a large increase in salary as well as what happened later when this was reduced to £25 per quarter in 1838 - possibly having to cut costs? Unfortunately to date we have not been able to find out! He was employed to supervise the unpaid constables in the Liberty from his home in Middle Street, Ripon

In 1832 Winn was involved with the City Police in the trial of Elisha Sinkler, one of two notorious poacher brothers from Pateley Bridge at York assizes where he gave evidence that, at Stone Beck Down and Dacre with Bewerley, Elisha feloniously counselled, aided and abetted John his brother wounding Thomas Dinsdale with intent to resist and prevent the lawful apprehension and detaining of the said John and Elisha Sinkler.

In 1840 he was involved in a case of two brothers called Atkinson who were charged with burglaries in the Ripon area and were sentenced to transportation when they appeared at York Assize Court.  He disappeared for some unknown reason in 1841and was replaced in 1842. He was eventually declared bankrupt.

His rattle has recently been donated to the Trust and a photo is above.
Ralph B. Lindley, Vice President, RMT.
March, 2013.

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Christmas Day in the Workhouse

Ripon Workhouse Museum invites you to step back in time with us to the year 1890 and join us as we open our doors for ‘Christmas Day in Workhouse’, now a firm favourite on the museum calendar. The event is based on the Ripon Gazette reports of the time, detailing the Mayor’s annual treat for the poor inmates.

We have been decking the halls and scrubbing the floors ready for this special day when the old workhouse will bustle with the sights, smells and sounds of the past.  As you walk the corridors you will meet some of the real life characters of the workhouse itself: disgruntled inmates, pompous guardians, strict school mistresses, bossy matrons and even a drunken vagrant with a hidden past as life is breathed once again into the cells, corridors and work yard of this wonderful building.

You will have chance to talk to the inmates to see how the poor lived and learn what it was like to spend your day oakum picking, breaking stones, doing laundry and scrubbing.  The guardians will tell you about their last inspection, their views of the inmates and their new pride and joy, a hot water system! 

‘We are looking forward to welcoming visitors to drop in a see us this special day in the Workhouse calendar and experience a very different Christmas’  says Sue Dalton Head of Museums.

Refreshments will be served and performances of music hall songs, Victorian music and Christmas carols will be provided by ‘Marking time’ throughout the day.

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Shadows of the City.

Explore the darker side of Ripon’s history at Ripon’s Museums Museum this half term. The Prison & Police Museum, Workhouse and Courthouse Museums all remember the harrowing stories of those who have passed through their doors...

Experience the Workhouse by candlelight on Halloween and meet some of its ghostly inmates, finishing with a spooky story around the fire.

But it’s not all gloom! The museums also celebrate light at half term - experience the thrill of the Victorian Magic Lantern Show with its clever changing pictures and beautiful patterns. Children can also make moving shadow puppets and perform their own live show.


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Heritage Open Day in the Loo!

• As part of Heritage Open Days, Ripon Museum Trust is letting the public explore the Workhouse Garden and newly restored Workhouse Piggery on Saturday 8th September and on Sunday 9 September the Workhouse, focusing especially on our smallest rooms - and you don’t have to spend a penny! The Garden and Piggery will be FREE to explore on the Saturday and the Workhouse will be FREE to explore on the Sunday.

• The Workhouse Garden is a restored 1890’s kitchen garden located behind the Workhouse on Allhallowgate, This is your chance to meet out volunteer gardeners and explore the garden with our children’s trails and meet the workhouse pig trying to come out of the newly restored piggery.

• At the Workhouse we are opening our two historical toilets. The old outside privy which dates from 1850’s and our 1920’s Tramps loo, which was still in use up until 2008!
To help you explore we have a potty trail around the museum; full of toilet facts and jokes, learn how the Victorian poor made loo paper and a find out a brief history of the toilet.
‘We are looking forward to making a feature of these often overlooked places in the museum’ says Head of Museums Sue Dalton

• The Workhouse Garden is open Saturday 8 September 10am – 4pm admission FREE and the Workhouse museum is open Sunday 9 September 2pm – 4pm admission is FREE

No booking required just turn up on the day. Normal admission prices apply outside the time and dates specified

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Discover Ripon Video

One thousand three hundred years of history a stunning city center, beautiful shops and magnificent attractions come and see for yourself why Ripon is so special. Go on, Discover Ripon.

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Award winning!

Volunteers from Ripon Museums travelled to the British Museum in London this week to collect a prestigious award for their services to education.
The schools team, who work with some 50 groups visiting Ripon’s museums each year, are regional winners of the Volunteers for Museum Learning Marsh Trust Award 2012. The award recognises the ‘innovative ways in which volunteers work in museums and galleries to engage the public with collections and bring the museum experience to life’.
“We had a wonderful day and we are very proud of our award,” said Shirley Jones, a volunteer for many years at the Workhouse Museum and known for her stern portrayal of the workhouse matron. “It was lovely to meet other museum volunteers who are as enthusiastic as we are, and the British Museum looked after us superbly”.

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HeArts Festival

It is surprising what people get up to in Ripon ... make corn dollies and mosaics, build coracles and use bows and arrows, carve wood and fashion metal in the forge... there are all sorts of forgotten arts out there waiting to be rediscovered. Ripon Museums will again be celebrating traditional arts and crafts this year for three days from 4th – 6th during their Jubilee HeArts Fest (short for Heritage Arts Festival) at the Workhouse Museum on Allhallowgate, supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

In today’s world of mass-production and price-driven markets it is nice occasionally to appreciate objects made with attention to detail, unique design and consummate skill - the art of the blacksmith and green-woodsman, the spinner and the lace-maker. HeArts Fest is a chance to celebrate our local craftsmen and women and perhaps pick up a new hobby yourself. Expert demonstrators will be on hand to inspire and advise you and you will be able to try your hand at some crafts. There will be activities for children throughout the event, all included in the normal museum admission price.

Different skills will be demonstrated on each day, so make sure you pick up a leaflet with the correct timetable- available around town. Buy Ripon Museums’ Family and Friends or 3-in -1 ticket and you can  see all the demonstrators over 3 days and join in with all the activities.

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Live It

For three days in the Easter school holidays you can meet the inmates of the workhouse to experience their daily tasks.
From Wednesday 11 – Friday 13 April you can work for your food and shelter alongside inmates: oakum picking, wood chopping, and stone-breaking. Learn about Granny’s homemade cures for aches and pains and how to darn your underwear! Meet Polly as she makes a meal costing only a few pence; re-use your old clothes to make rag rugs and make your own toys and games.

This Easter sees the launch of the new Friends and Family Ticket.
This ‘3-in-1’ ticket last 12 months and is valid for all three museums in Ripon, for up to two adults and three children costing only £19.00.
This includes free quizzes, trails, children actives and entry to most of the events planned for the year.

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Open Cell

On Sunday 11th September, with the kind permission of the Dean & Chapter of Ripon Cathedral, Ripon Museum Trust opened the (long disused) cell below the Courthouse.

Known as the holding cell, this is where, in the early years of this building, prisoners were brought from the Liberty Gaol in St Marygate. He, or she, was then escorted up the stone steps into the courtroom for their trial.

Although today it houses the central heating boiler, it has great atmosphere.

The event was a huge success and our volunteers clearly enjoyed getting into the role of  prisoners waiting sentencing...


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