Ten Essential Victorian Cycling Facts & Tips

With ‘Tour de Yorkshire’ fever mounting we have some handy Victorian tips for riding a Penny Farthing. Have a read then visit the Workhouse Museum this Saturday (29 April) to try riding one  – it’s not as easy as you may think!

1: The Penny Farthing was the first machine to be called a bicycle. It’s name came from it’s large front wheel and smaller back wheel, which resembled the largest and smallest coins of the time.

2: The Penny Farthing bicycle was designed by British Victorian inventor, James Starley.

Penny Farthing at Ripon Workhouse Museum
3: The larger the front wheel, the further you could travel on one rotation of the pedals.

4: Popular in the late 19th Century the Penny Farthing was usually only purchased by wealthy men.

5: Victorian Ladies loved to ride Penny Farthing Bicycles, even in a dress! With Mr Phoebus you will be encouraged to mount, sit high and experience how easy this was…

6: A Victorian Penny Farthing tyre has NO Air inside - it’s solid rubber! The one gain is that the bicycle is completely Puncture Free

7: When coasting downhill, riders had to take their feet off the pedals and put them over the handlebars.

8: The National Penny Farthing Championship races are held every year in Tasmania, Australia

9: When riding a Victorian Penny Farthing, one should always look ahead and enjoy the ride. Iconic Penny Farthings had little, if NO braking system

10: In 2006, Joff Summerfield spent over two years riding around the world on a Penny Farthing.

See what dangers the Victorian riders had to face this Saturday at our Penny Farthing Experience with Mr Phoebus. These historic bikes will be available in all sizes for you to have a go, also a pop up café, bloomer races and lots more silly fun and games! All at the Workhouse Museum, Ripon 

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A week in the Life: Of a Museum Learning Manager

Discover more about a week in the life of a Museum Learning Manager, as Ripon Museums very lovely Carrie Philip shares her daily diary...
Start of another week. Planning day with the office Learning Team. Catch up with Katy, my assistant to see how the staffing for this week’s school and group visits is going. Looking ahead to the Easter Family Learning activities, I ask Jade, our apprentice, to do some research into Victorian cleaning concoctions. Afternoon Senior Management Team meeting where different departments: learning, volunteering, marketing, curation, operations get together to look at what events, grant bids, exhibitions are coming up & report on current progress.

School visit. Meet school at the coach park for a Crime & Punishment Day at Ripon Museums. This is a great day for schools. First to the Courthouse, where the class play out an historic trial with costumes in our Georgian courtroom. The dock still has the step so that children prosecuted for crimes (the age of criminal responsibility was 7 years old) could be seen over the top of the dock railing. Then back to the workhouse for lunch and then the Prison & Police Museum for the Sinkler role-play and tour of the cells.  Thank the volunteer learning team for delivering the workshops with skill, knowledge, enthusiasm and humour! We find that the Courtroom tends to bring out the flog ‘em and hang ‘em high tendency in people of all ages.

An automaton machine will be arriving shortly at the Workhouse with a mechanical “Workhouse Master” who makes pronouncements and spits out cards with facts about workhouse people and tasks for children to do. I checked the reports from the Research team to extract some facts and contribute to the “Workhouse Master’s” script. I fine-tuned my presentation for tomorrow on our pilot project for people with dementia and their carers. Museum Development Yorkshire’s photographer took some amazing pictures which helps make the presentation a bit more engaging.

Off to York Castle Museum to deliver the Dementia project presentation to the Learning & Wellbeing cohort put together by Museum Development Yorkshire made up by several museums in Yorkshire. A very interesting day hearing about how different museums had approached this area. We are pleased to hear we are going to be a case study for this group.

Adult group arriving to tour all three museums. They have ordered teas & coffees and scones. We are also setting up for one of our biggest events tomorrow, Sights and Sounds of Ripon. This takes place across the centre of Ripon and involves the Council, Library, Fire Service, Cathedral and lots of voluntary groups. 
Phoned to invite speakers to take part in our Saturday talks series.  These are on Saturdays during the school holidays but aimed at adults. New for this year, so far we have had two wonderful talks given by an archaeologist from Durham University and a forensic anthropologist from Teesside University respectively. At Easter we have a talk on “Suffragettes in Prison” and one on the Workhouse in 19th century literature.

Co-ordinating the Sights and Sounds events across the three museums. Schoolroom, Laundry and rag-rugging at the Workhouse. Pop-up café and Morris Dancing (not in the same space). Mock trials put on by Justices of the Peace at the Courthouse. Tours by our Peeler and Victorian bobby. We had 1,440 visitors across our three museums. 


To find out more about organising a group visit (for any age) or learning activities at Ripon Museums please email Carrie or tel 01765 690799

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Urchins, Sprogs and Guttersnipes - The Facts!

Here are a few facts taken from our new displays which tell the tales of not so lucky children in Victorian Ripon…

#1 An Urchin is a young boy or girl, especially poorly or raggedly dressed

#2 A Sprog is a youngster, child, a baby, from the word ‘sprag’ meaning a slip or cutting from a plant

#3 Guttersnipe, is a street urchin, a gatherer of refuse from the street gutters

#4 Children were put into the Workhouse on their own because they were abandoned, orphans, physically or mentally disabled, illegitimate or left by parents unable to feed the child

#5 Ripon Workhouse appointed a trained teacher to give 3 hours schooling a day

#6 Regular excursions to Hackfall, Studley and Harrogate were organised.

#7 Innocent children of convicted women were transported with their mothers to Australia.

#8 Girls sent to prison worked long hours in laundry, picking oakum and plaiting straw for hats.  Punishment for misbehaviour, unlike the boys who were whipped, was to be put in a straitjacket or given a diet of bread and water.

#9 Children of the poor were often organised into criminal gangs and taught to steal such as in Fagin’s gang in the Charles Dickens novel, ‘Oliver Twist’

#10 The worst punishment for children was to be put in the ‘dark cell’.  This was a specially built very small cell with no furniture and totally without light.

Visit the museums, see our new visual displays, take a look inside our new dark cell at the Prison and Police Museum and follow the family 'picture' trail … 


A Volunteer’s Journey

Without the fantastic help of our volunteers we would find it very difficult to run our three museums. This week, Phil Hall, one of our volunteers shares his experiences of volunteering with us...

"It’s now been a year since my wife and I agreed to start volunteering for Ripon Museums. We had never planned to volunteer we were just walking past the Workhouse Museum and saw the advertisement asking for new volunteers. We had recently moved into Ripon and volunteering seemed to provide the ideal opportunity to make new friends, help the local community and be part of something important, the preservation of three ‘Law and Order’ museums.    

Volunteer at Ripon Museums

It’s a great icebreaker when you meet someone for the first time and they ask you what you did over the weekend. I can say well I looked after a ‘Workhouse’ and helped people learn about law and order in the nineteenth century.  My wife and I dress up in Victorian clothes which  adds an air of authenticity for our visitors. We often get visitors talking about their distant relatives who were in the workhouses and how it brings home to them what the conditions they had to endure.

When you first agree to volunteer, you don’t know what to expect or where your volunteering journey will take you. To ease you into the volunteer role, everyone attends a short Induction course. It’s all nice and informal not like being at work, everyone sits around a table chilled out drinking tea or coffee while the Wendy the Volunteer Manager explains what is expected of you and lets you read through the many roles that are available. For example, welcoming visitors to the museums on the front desk, admin tasks like event planning and project meetings and even gardening in our authentic Workhouse Garden growing Victorian fruit and vegetables. They suggest that you try out all the roles at least once and find our which ones you like the most.

Many of us do the same job day after day and would love the chance to try something different but something holds us back. Often, we also have hidden talents just waiting to shine and we just need to take the first step. Volunteering give you a safe environment supported by friends where you can let your hair down and find out what you enjoy.

My volunteering experience has increased my confidence when dealing with people and I can happily talk to visitors explaining what's in the museum and answering their questions. I also feel at more at easy offering suggestions in meetings and being valued for my input. I have also enjoyed being the 'official' photographer at museum events like the ‘Mad Hatter's Tea Party’ and the 200th anniversary of the Police and Prison museum. 

One big area volunteering has helped me improve in my personal life is to develop my skill at researching history which is helping me to build up my family tree. I recently got hold of my great grandmother’s marriage certificate from 1907 which had lots of fascinating details like her job, her address and the names of my two great great-grandfathers and their jobs. All this new information has allowed me expand my family tree back into the 1840s.

My wife has also learnt many useful skills like fundraising which she used it to great effect on the ‘Mad Hatter's Tea Party’ and dealing with local businesses. She loves dressing up in period costume and learning about life in the workhouse.

For anyone who is thinking of volunteering ask yourself the following questions:
Are you passionate about Ripon?
Would you like to make some new friends?
What would you like to preserve our historical heritage?
Would you like to learn some new skills?

If you have a few hours to spare, and are interested in volunteering with Ripon Museums either call in and see us at The Workhouse Museum. email us [email protected] or call 01765 690799

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Dark Tourism - What’s it all about?

Rhiannon Pickin is a Crime and Penal Heritage Researcher exploring our collections…she explains more about her interest for dark tourism sites and crime heritage in this week's Q&A. Interested? If you would like to come along to her focus group at the Workhouse Museum on Friday 24th March at 11am then please get in touch [email protected]

Have you always been interested in crime and punishment museums?
I’ve always loved visiting museums ever since I was young, but I also wanted to be a lawyer at one point. I guess you could say the two interests merged as I got older.

Do you get to visit a lot of museums?
I tend to stay close to the museums that I’m working with for my research, but whenever I’m visiting a new place I always make time to fit in a museum or two. Particularly dark tourism sites, as those are the ones I’m most interested in.

What are dark tourism sites?
They are sites that are linked to death and suffering. They can be places that are more entertainment-led, like the London Dungeons, or much more serious places, such as locations related to genocide. I’m looking at how visitors’ emotions are involved in how they respond to what they see in prison and courtroom museums, which can be entertaining and serious in their subject matter.

Ripon Prison and Police Museum
What do you do when you’re looking at a museum for your research?

Quite a few things really. I look at the ways that the museum is presenting the history in the displays and make notes and take photographs. I’ve also been interviewing staff and doing questionnaires with visitors. I’m looking to speak with visitors in focus groups for the next stage of my research.

Have you had any particularly memorable experiences whilst doing your research?

When I was doing the questionnaires in a few of the museums I’m looking at I had visitors ask me if there are ghosts in the buildings. Although I don’t completely believe in ghosts sitting in quiet areas of the museums on my own after people asked that felt a bit strange, especially as I know there have been reports of ghost sightings in the museums!

Does it ever feel strange, focussing on people’s suffering for a job?

Sometimes it can be quite saddening. I find that mostly when I’m looking at the archival sources, such as the gaoler’s journals or the surgeon’s reports. At the York Castle Gaol in the nineteenth century the gaoler made notes about the day-to-day running of the prison and wrote down any noteworthy events, including prisoner deaths. It makes you realise that there are a lot of historical problems that are still relevant to prisons today.

So, why DO people visit crime and punishment museums?

I think there is a huge interest in these types of museums for many different reasons. I have a friend who is an archaeologist who often works on public workshops and talks and we both agree that people, particularly children, often find the horrible parts of history to be the most interesting. On the other hand there is a more serious side to this type of heritage site as it is dealing with human suffering so it can lead to people contemplating what they are seeing in the displays.

Ripon Courthouse Museum

What’s your favourite museum?

A difficult question! I don’t know if I have a favourite. Other than courtroom and prison museums I do enjoy visiting historic houses but I know that only the very rich lived in these places and they don’t necessarily represent the lives and experiences of people from other social classes, but I think it shows how museums can offer a bit of escapism for visitors. Sometimes that’s what people want from visiting places like that.

Get Involved
will be leading a focus group at the Workhouse Museum on Friday 24th March at 11am. If you’re interested in coming along to talk about your experiences visiting the Courthouse Museum and the Prison and Police Museum, you can email her at [email protected]

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Dementia Friendly Museums

We have recently been part of a pilot project to develop museum activities for people living with dementia, ranging from rag-rugging, to printmaking and pottery.

Wendy Hunwick-Brown, Ripon Museums’ Volunteer Manager
Our museums and galleries offer a wonderful welcoming and interesting space for people to experience something new. By taking part in this 6 week project we wanted to offer some support to people who needed a little extra understanding and time to help them enjoy their visit. We have been really pleased with both the response from new volunteers involved with the project and by feedback from people taking part.

May & Peter’s story.
We first met in 1973 when we were neighbours, then we met up again 7/8 years ago when we were both on our own. Pete is an ex air force communications then a taxi driver, I ended up working in a pharmacy. Pete loved rugby playing and refereeing and I am interested in craft based hobbies.

Peter was told he was suffering from stress when I first queried his forgetfulness about 5 years ago, but has since his Alzheimer’s diagnosis his health has gone downhill. Although we were seeing each other before his diagnosis we only started living with each other when he needed 24 hour care and we now split the week between Harrogate and York.

We were interested in museums and activities as we now seem to have a very limited social life. I don’t leave him alone so my social life is what I do with him. Crowded places don’t suit him any more so that's a restriction. We were unsure the first time we came to one of the sessions. Peter was very apprehensive as he is with new places and people, also we didn’t know what to expect.

We’ve really enjoyed the company and the lovely helpers we’ve met. The activities were great fun and something completely different. We also loved the museums and the chance to walk around them quietly. I think it made Peter realize that he can attempt new things – he seems to have lost a lot of confidence. The sessions did put us in a better mood and it was good to laugh together again.

What Next?
We are currently reviewing the pilot project and hope to be able to roll out more dementia friendly activities and session in the future.

This pilot programme (Jan-Feb 2017) was a partnership between Ripon Museum Trust, Harrogate Borough Council Sports and Active Lifestyles Team, Harrogate Borough Council’s Culture Service and Dementia Forward.


New Culture and Connections Project

Coordinator Helen Young introduces our new ‘Culture and Connections’ project in this week's guest blog... 

Hello, I am the Culture & Connections Coordinator at Ripon Museums. I started in my role in mid January and am looking forward to supporting people to get involved in this new project.

Ripon Museums Volunteer opportunities

Culture and connections is a social project being piloted by Ripon Museums Trust in partnership with the University of York. The project aims to improve mental wellbeing and reduce the practical and emotional impacts of social isolation. The success of the project will be evaluated by the University of York and participants will be invited to contribute to the research.  

I will be creating opportunities for people to make connections, to meet new friends and to get involved in the local community, socially or as a volunteer.  Participants will be invited to take part in a wide range of activities at Ripon Museums Trust, starting with taster sessions including craft activities, working behind the scenes, helping in the gardens and object handling. I will link each person to a ‘buddy’ who can help them to participate in the activities. This should work well for anyone who lacks confidence, finds it difficult to make new friends or who faces other low level physical or mental health barriers.

Most people are eligible to use this new service, and may have a number of reasons for wishing to take part. The scheme is open to anyone who would like to try something new but may be particularly useful for people who are feeling socially isolated or who would like to improve their wellbeing. People can be referred to the organisations that they are involved with, their local GP or they can complete a ‘self’ referral. There is no cost to participating in Culture and Connections.

If people come along and find that they enjoy the taster sessions, they will be invited to take part in further activities and may eventually become part of the friendly team here at Ripon Museums. As part of the project I can also direct people to other opportunities around the area, depending on their interests.

Interested in getting involved? For more information please get in touch with Helen, call 01765 690799 or email [email protected]


Q&A with Bioarchaeologist Rebecca Gowland

Find out more about what its like to be a Bioarchaeologist in our Q&A with Rebecca Gowland, who will be leading a short hands on workshop/talk at Ripon Museums on Sat 18 February as part of our new programme. 

1.      What did you want to be when you grew up as a child?
First I wanted to be an artist, then I realised that I couldn’t draw very well and decided to be a vet. That obviously didn’t work out either.

2.  What has been your best archaeology moment so far?
Sitting under some lemon trees in sunny Crete, recording some skeletons from a Minoan tomb

3.  If you could go back in time what age would you like to see first hand and why?
I would like to live in Rome in the 1st century AD – it was the centre of the Empire and an important city- I would love to see all of the hustle and bustle first hand

4.  What is so interesting about skeletons?
Everything! They’re amazing! They’re an archive of an individual’s life and you can find out so much about how a person lived from their skeletons.

5.  What's the first thing you look at on a skeleton?
I try to take in the whole skeleton initially. I will lay out the entire skeleton and start to form some opinions and then I’ll record it systematically.

6.  Why are you interested in workhouses?
I’m interested in childhood experiences in the past and I’m interested in the relationship between health and social status, particularly at the lower end of the scale. What was the effect of social marginalisation on the health of children and what lessons can we learn about child poverty today?

7.  What has been the most useful recent invention for Bioarcheaology?
A lot of what I do is actually pretty low-tech. However, new biomolecular techniques are pretty fantastic and are enabling us to answer questions about health, diet and social identity that we wouldn’t have thought possible even 10 years ago

8. What will archaeologists of the future be doing?
Wondering why on earth all these skeletons from the 21st century had bum and boob implants! It’ll no doubt be ‘ritual’

9. Tell us an archaeology joke  (optional)
Why didn’t the skeleton dance at the party? It had no body to dance with….groan…

Come along and find out more at 'Workhouse to Mill' an expert hands on workshop  on Sat 18 February 2-3.30pm, tickets £5 per person more

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Art Project explores Workhouse Food

This week we have a guest blog from artist Pippa Hale who is working on a thought provoking new commission, Consumption, which explores social history at the Workhouse Museum…
Workhouse Museum Art Project Pippa Hale
Pippa Hale pictured at the Workhouse Museum site

I’m absolutely thrilled to be working with Ripon Museums Trust to create a new site-specific artwork for the former Dining Hall, which will be opened later this year as part of the Workhouse Museum’s expansion.

The work will be a performance and short film that shows the preparation and consumption of a standard meal served to inmates in 1861. The meal will be cooked and eaten by up to fifty of the museum’s volunteers in the original Kitchen and Dining Hall, both of which are currently empty. The final film will be screened in the same empty Dining Hall.

Art Museum Yorkshire

Artist impression of film installation

I remember the visiting the museum for the first time and being overwhelmed by the hardship faced by the poor who were interred here: the mindless work and long hours, the paltry food portions, the splitting up of families. I’m sure many of us are familiar with workhouse horror stories, so I was surprised to find a census from 1861 listing all inmates at Ripon Workhouse and to discover so many older people living here. Usually we think conditions were so harsh that only the fittest and strongest survived, but Ripon seemed to buck the trend. Here, nearly half of inmates were over 60 years old and 90% of those were living well into their 70s and 80s. So the question arose, was there something about regular meals and company that led to longer life?

Also on that first visit, I was made to feel very welcome by the team of volunteers at the museum, all of whom were incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. Despite the grim subject matter, they were upbeat and the sense of camaraderie amongst them was tangible. I noticed (and I hope they won’t mind me for saying!) that they were all older people and a connection with the past opened up: the workhouse has been a focal point for a community of older people both in the past and in the present, albeit under different circumstances!

A sense of community and belonging is vitally important for our health as we get older. I was shocked to read a recent Age UK report ‘No One Should Have No One: Working To End Loneliness Amongst Older People’. The report cites at least 1.2m older people in England are chronically lonely with half a million going 5 or 6 days without seeing or speaking to anyone. The worrying thing is that this seems to have a direct impact on our mental and physical health as people who are lonely are far more likely to develop heart conditions, depression or dementia. And as a population, we’re all getting older so these numbers are set to rise.

Society has progressed in many ways since the 19th century, but loneliness is a hidden spectre that lurks in the shadows. I’m interested in the role of the workhouse in older people’s lives in 1861 and 2017. By using the old Dining Hall as the site for this project I hope to collapse the gap between the past and the present. There’s something powerful and immediate about standing in a space where our forebears once stood. By re-creating a meal in the same space inmates would have eaten every day over 150 years ago, by watching the way in which the volunteers work, eat and interact together I hope to raise questions about health and well being in later life. How do we create community as we get older and our social connectivity changes? How do we sustain ourselves nutritionally and socially? Are there lessons to be learned from the past that can improve our quality of life in the 21st century?

Museum note: Keep an eye on this blog for updates on Pippa’s project which is funded by Arts Council England.

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Exciting opening events planned for 2017…

Our first blog of 2017 is by Museum Director James Etherington...

It seems like only a few days ago we were waving goodbye to our last visitors of the season at the Christmas event and here we are. Our volunteers are doing our spring cleaning (always optimistic that spring will start early), having the preseason meetings and ordering all the supplies we need for another exciting year at Ripon Museum Trust, role on 2017.

The museums will reopen on Sat 18 February just in time for half term, for which all three museums will be open from 10am to 4pm (Sat 18 Feb to Fri 24 Feb) Then from Sat 25 Feb onwards we are back to our normal opening hours of 11am – 4pm at the Workhouse Museum and 1pm – 4pm at the Courthouse and Prison and Police Museum. We are really delighted to have kept the prices to 2016 levels.

So what is new for this coming year? Well there are a few things that we will be announcing over the coming weeks, but we open the year with a bang:

Half term February Families children Ripon Museums
Over half term we have drop in  ‘Apples and Arsenic’ family activities planned. Each day, from Monday 20 to Friday 24 February, join us and have a go at baking, making concoctions, creating crafts, enjoying Punch and Judy shows, following fun trails and lots more… this is also chance to take a closer look at our historic Workhouse and garden, one of the best preserved in England…

Following a traditional recipe try your hand at Baking Bread, which was an important part of the daily diet in the Workhouse.

Concoct your own Smelling Salts, a popular cure for fainting in Victorian times then explore hidden corners of the Victorian Workhouse whilst following the Consumption Apple Trail.

Create apple themed crafts and have a giggle and sit down whilst enjoying the museum’s popular Victorian themed Punch and Judy show - fun for all ages! All activities are included in the price of your admission...

We are also really pleased to be launching our much enhanced programme for adults this year. Throughout the year we will be hosting talks and workshops from a variety of experts on subjects that link in to our museums and to the special events and exhibitions we will be running. The first two talks and workshops are:

From Workhouse to Mill: The skeletal evidence for pauper apprentices from North Yorkshire.
Dr. Rebecca Gowland, Senior Lecturer in Bioarchaeology, Durham University
Sat 18 February 2pm-3.30pm
Talk plus Workshop £5
Human skeletal remains provide a wealth of evidence about the lives of past people. Information about age-at-death, diet, place of origin, disease and occupation can all be gleaned. This talk will provide an overview of a recent study of skeletal remains excavated from Fewston, North Yorkshire, with a particular focus on the children. It will reveal the hardships faced by these youngest members of society during the industrialization of the 18th and 19th century.  Please email [email protected] or call 01765 690799 to book 

Dr Rebecca Gowland, Skeletal Archaeology Talk and Workshop

Bodies of Evidence
Prof. Tim Thompson, Professor of Forensic Anthropology, Teeside University
Sat 25 February 2pm-3.30pm
Talk plus Workshop £5
Forensic and crime scene scientists work in lots of different places and investigate lots of different types of crimes. But one think they all do is look at the human body. Understanding and solving crimes very often depends of finding and studying parts of the body - from tiny fragments of skin cells to whole bodies. This talk will look at the different ways the body can be studied and what it can tell us about people and how they lived their lives.
Find out more about Professor Tim Thompson here

Both have hands on elements, a perfect way to get the year off with a very ‘silent witness’ vibe.
Please email [email protected] or call 01765 690799 to reserve a space 

Check back here at the blog regularly for more news and information, and don’t forget to check out our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram...

James Etherington
Museum Director 


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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@RiponMuseums #pandp #museumlife Teesside University students filming at Prison and Police Museum 👺

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The Courthouse will be closed from 10 - 1 on Sunday morning but will be open 1 - 4. Bother other museums are open 10 - 4

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