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York Castle Museum

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York Castle Museum

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York Castle Museum

York Castle Museum is housed in what used to be the Female and Debtors’ Prisons, once part of the Baroque-style county jail, completed in 1705, and described by Daniel Defoe as "...a Prison the most stately and complete of any in the kingdom, if not in Europe".

Conditions were not always so stately: the Debtors’ Prison was often overcrowded, and a breeding ground for diseases, with prisoners locked in their cells for up to 16 hours a day.

York Castle’s best-known prisoner was highwayman Dick Turpin, incarcerated there from October 1738 until his execution in April 1739 – for horse-stealing.

By 1900, York Castle had ceased to be a civil prison, and was used by the military as a detention centre until 1929, when it was sold to York Corporation. Today, it houses a fascinating museum, with a great variety of exhibits, including the justly famous re-creation of a Victorian shopping street.

Photo: Brad Watmuff

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York Castle Museum has been visited by more than 30 million people since it opened in 1938. It is the home to Kirkgate, the country's original, most famous and most authentic Victorian Street Experience. It has the broadest and most comprehensive collection of everyday objects in the country - more than 100,000 are on display at any one time. If you're looking for icons from everyday life - from Penny Farthings to Platform Boots - York Castle Museum has probably got them.

Michael Woodward


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I believe rice, peas and jerk chicken is an Icon of England.

Ade Adeluwoye

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