Group visits

Volunteers in Victorian costume baking cakes

We love to welcome groups to our museums and can arrange a visit that will suit your party, whether you’d like to visit one museum, two museums, or all three.

Our adult and group tours can include a rag-rugging session at the Workhouse Museum, object handling at the Prison & Police Museum or Workhouse Museums, or you can take part in a mock trial with scripts and costumes at the Courthouse Museum.

Our knowledgeable and entertaining guides will take you on a tour of the museums, telling the story of the buildings themselves as well as what went on inside.

We can also provide teas and coffees with biscuits, scones or cakes or a buffet lunch for your group.

Details of our group offer can be found below. If you’re interested in finding out more aboutbooking a visit or you would like to make an enquiry, please email [email protected].¬†

Workhouse Museum and Gardens 

Enter the gates of Ripon Workhouse and you are in the world of the Victorian poor. Climb stairs worn smooth by the feet of paupers making their way to the Guardians’ Room to plead their case for help.¬†

Our guides will take you on the path of the pauper – through the boiler and bathrooms where new arrivals were thoroughly scrubbed with carbolic soap and de-liced¬†before being put to work. Boys and men were put to work in the Kitchen Garden digging the ground and growing the starchy vegetables used in the¬†inmates’¬†meals.¬†

Hands-on activities are available, including a rag-rugging session, Victorian recycling at its best! We also offer object-handling using artefacts from our collections. 

Prison & Police Museum 

Come and visit our 200-year-old Prison & Police Museum. Walk past the whipping post, pillory and jougs to be welcomed into our cells where you can explore the story of crime and punishment in the Victorian era. 

Our knowledgeable and entertaining guides will take you on a tour of punishment – shot drill, treadmills, prison hulks and transportation, as well as the development of policing. You will be shut in a cell and stretched on the birching stool –¬†it‚Äôs¬†an experience that will stay with you!¬†

Hands-on activities are available, including an object-handling session using artefacts from our collections. 

Courthouse Museum 

Opened during the reign of King William IV, our Courthouse Museum will transport you to an era where the age of criminal responsibility was seven years old. 

Stand in the dock and take part in a mock trial with costumes, facilitated by our volunteers. Decide whether the defendant is whipped, sentenced to hard labour or transported to Van Dieman’s Land. 

Group prices 

Charges are per person for groups of over 10 people and include entry to the museum.  

  • Guided tour of one museum: Workhouse Museum ¬£12, Prison & Police Museum (includes object handling) ¬£9, Courthouse Museum (includes trial) ¬£9.¬†¬†
  • Guided tour of two museums ¬£15¬†
  • Guided tour of three museums ¬£16¬†
  • Teas, coffees and biscuits are ¬£2:50 per person, upgrade to teas, coffees and homemade scones for ¬£3 per person.¬†
  • We can also offer bespoke activities such as rag-rugging, please contact us for more information.¬†

Workhouse Museum and Garden 

Experience hard work and no play: the life of a Victorian workhouse boy or girl.  

Meet Matron, who will explain the rules: hands out of your pockets, don’t speak until spoken to and always be polite and obey your elders. Then it’s off to work with our carousel of hands-on activities: 

  • Victorian Schoolroom:¬†Take a lesson with our strict¬†schoolmaster or mistress¬†and learn to write on a slate.¬†
  • Laundry: Get down to some¬†hard work using dolly tubs, scrubbing on the washboard,¬†and¬†using the mangle.¬†
  • Chores:¬†Garden chores¬†(weather permitting),¬†beating carpets, sweeping, polishing.¬†
  • Rag-rugging: In Victorian times, nothing¬†was thrown away. Make a patch of rag-rug to take home from recycled material.¬†

Prison & Police Museum 

At the Prison & Police Museum you can choose from two activities: 

Sinkler Brothers role-play 

This is the story of notorious poachers, John and Elisha Sinkler and their arrest. Played out with costumes and props the tale covers early policing, setting up of a professional police force and transportation. 

Doin’ Time 

A tour of the cells which completes the story of the Sinkler Brothers and also introduces other forms of punishment Рpublic shaming, a birching stool as well as allow pupils to experience being in a shut cell. 

Courthouse Museum 

Experience a historic trial in our Georgian Courthouse with all its fittings: the original dock, witness boxes, magistrates’ bench and jury bench. The trial is acted out with a script, costumes etc and then the group breaks into two in separate rooms to discuss whether the trial was fair and decide on a verdict and punishment. The trial focuses on the theft of a loaf of bread. 

Youth group prices 

The price per group member is £6 for a half day and £8 for a full day. A £2 surcharge is made for evening and weekend visits. 

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