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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…

DR. REBECCA GOWLAND, IS SENIOR LECTURER IN BIOARCHAEOLOGY, DURHAM UNIVERSITY
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 info@riponmuseums.co.uk 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 http://www.tees.ac.uk/schools/sse/staff_profile_details.cfm?staffprofileid=U0023133

Both have hands on elements, a perfect way to get the year off with a very ‘silent witness’ vibe.
Please email info@riponmuseums.co.uk 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 

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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
http://www.riponmuseums.co.uk
info@riponmuseums.co.uk

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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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Dr Rebecca Gowland is now talking about skeletal evidence at @RiponMuseums. As ever, she's being brilliant! @ArcDurham

18 Feb

The time has flown by, we open tomorrow (18 Feb) for the season. For half term (18 - 24 Feb) the three museums are open 10 - 4. Welcome back

17 Feb

Looking for half term inspiration? Visit the Mumbler School holidays for a full round-up. harrogate.mumbler.co.uk/school-holiday…

16 Feb

Our #HeritageTreasures top 20 countdown continues tomorrow! bit.ly/2lb4YKJ pic.twitter.com/CEsnd2pcLI

16 Feb