York Castle Museum Review + Photos

York Castle Museum is a very popular York Museum and is located opposite Clifford’s Tower in the city centre of York. It is our favourite attraction in York, and you can easily spend a few hours here with your kids.

We visited the York Castle Museum in York as part of our 3 day York pass and it was our #1 attraction of the best things to do in York with kids.

York Castle Museum

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York Castle Museum

We visited York Castle Museum on the second day of our 3 Day York Pass. We were looking to get the best value for money and up popped York Castle Museum, and we thought we would give it a go, and see what all the fuss is about.

We also wanted to visit Clifford’s Tower and could see that they were in the same area, so it would make it easy to go from one to the other.

We just thought it would be a regular museum just in the city of York and really wasn’t expecting anything special.

In fact, when we arrived, we thought it looked more like a café and that we had maybe ended up at the wrong place.

Then we headed inside and unlike other places we had visited on our York Pass found out that this was one entry only and wouldn’t be made into an annual pass.

To be honest, we were not expecting much…..then we started walking around the museum and were totally blown away with how amazing castle museum is and by the end of day 3 it became our favourite attraction we did in that week in York.

But I wouldn’t recommend Castle Museum for your York City Pass and I will explain through our York Castle Museum Review why it shouldn’t be in your York Pass and what you should really be doing instead.

York Castle Museum Tower Street, York

I love the way these attractions in York compliment them. How you should do one then the other and by seeing a few of them, they all make the jigsaw puzzle of learning the history of York.

York Castle Museum is located on Tower Street in York. The same Tower Street where you will find Clifford’s Tower and also back in the day the buildings in the area would be the York prison as well as the courts and such like.

As a tourist to York, we would recommend that you visit the Jorvik Viking Centre, then do DIG, then do The York Castle Museum and then finish with Clifford’s Tower. They each work well by going from one to another and really having a great history lesson along the way. Then add in the ultimate tourist adventure and do the sightseeing bus which picks up on the front of Tower Street.

Yet, none of these places are boring and kids will love them all and along with other York attractions us and the kids named these as the best.

Here is a picture of the York sign that stands in front of the castle museum and you can see Clifford’s Tower in the background showing you just how close one attraction is from the other.

Do You Have To Pay For York Castle Museum

Yes, you do have to pay to visit York Castle Museum though for what you get for your money, its one of the best value for money attractions in York.

For example, for our family of four (2 adults and 2 kids) we would pay £39.00 to visit the castle museum. Yet, Cocoa Works is more money and so is Golden Tours yet you get a lot less doing those than you do at York Castle Museum.

Also, all these attractions I am talking about are on the York Pass.

York Castle Museum Parking

If you have read our Clifford’s Tower Review, you will notice I mention parking. Because the castle museum is in front of cliffords tower the parking is one of the same.

They have a carpark in between the two places, but whenever we have gone past, it has been very busy and we much prefer to use the York park and ride service and then the drop off for the park and ride is on Tower Street making it very handy.

Getting To The Castle Museum

Getting to York’s popular museum is EASY and then you also have the outside park area, plenty of space for a picnic and then you are also close by for other attractions.

The front of York castle also has a lovely “york” sign that you can take a picture in front of before you go in and would make a great momento.

york and clifford tower in the background
I took a picture of the York sign and then of course you can see Clifford Tower in the background.

Then you can head inside and queue to enter with your time slot that you have booked. We were on the 1pm slot.

The Castle Museum York Begins….

Once you have sorted out your York Museum tickets, it is time to get started.

The first thing I remember seeing is the writing of the wall of the history of York.

How in 1541 Henry Vlll arrived in York, 1641 and the civil war, 1705 York prison opens and of course the death of Dick Turpin in 1739. It is wonderful to read about the great history of York. And to share with the kids of the various events that happened and shaped the York of today.

I also learnt that WH Auden came from York who many know for creating the poem funeral blues that is well known thanks to the movie Four Weddings & A Funeral. And of course, that Guy Fawkes and Dame Judi Dench also came from York.

This was followed by the next step of seeing what a Georgian House looked like and how it compared to today. As we walk along it very much reminds me of the way the history is portraited in The Beamish Museum that we visited last year.

jorge admiring georgian times at york museum
Here is Jorge admiring what a home looked like during Georgian times. Though I think he was just wondering where their TV was!
york castle items from 1900s
After this I was checking out various items including a doctors bag from the old 1900s. It was nice to check out the different things they had found and added to the museum.
typical dining room york castle museum
There was also plenty of rooms to check out. Such as the style of bedrooms and kitchens and dining rooms and you can then think of the now vs the then.
jorge with a telescope in york museum
Jorge also tried out a telescope where he could look down at a real street and then see what was there.

York Toy Museum

This is the good bit. Not that its not all good, but the toy museum section that will impress both kids and adults alike. The part that is so relatable to your childhood and how parents and kids can have some fun together.

It is like you have arrived at a toy museum.

You get to see the toys that were popular for different eras as well as being able to play with plenty of these toys too. For example, I played hungry hippos with the kids, they did a sue and sweet show for me and we forgot for a moment that we were visiting a real museum and wasn’t just at home playing with toys.

playstation and other game consoles at york castle museum
Then for those of you in your 40’s like us we could also check out in a display the first Playstation which I bought the hubby and I remember when it first came out and became popular.
cycles at york castle museum
We loved the bikes on the wall from the different eras and I remember Dom commenting about how much he loved the BMX when that was the most loved present at Christmas.
spiral drawing in the 90s at york castle museum
I spotted the spiral drawing that I had when I was little. You would have so much fun making spiral shapes. I have got it for Sofia, but she was just never that into it.
spot the toys at york toy museum
There is also a lot of great interaction too such as asking kids if they can spot specific toys from a certain era. Looking at it I remember getting Kyle the microwave oven for Christmas a few years back.
sweep and sue at york toy museum
The kids also had great fun with Sweep and Sue and no matter how many times we suggested it they never got the hint and added Sooty which is the main one! Clearly it was before their time.

York Museum: Celebrate Fashion

Once you have played with as many toys as possible, you head into fashion which is equally fun. You get to see lots of famous designer dresses, see what clothes the fashion for each era were and just have fun exploring them all.

My favourite find was the vanity case. I remember being on holiday with my parents in the 90’s for Christmas and my mum got me this amazing vanity case for Christmas. It was loaded with toiletries and was truly beautiful.

fashion and the vanity case
This was the vanity case that I spotted in the display unit. Mine was a bit more modern than this because they were around for a long time. Yet I hardly see any now.
1940s fashion dresses
Another favourite find of mine was this beautiful 1940s dress. I love the fashion of the 1940s and 1950s.

Then before you head out of the fashion part of the museum there is more interaction for the kids such as jigsaw pieces with pretty dresses on.

Then no surprise next you learn about obesity and how the diet of the people of York has changed over the years. Plus, the kids got to lift some pretend weights and show us just how strong they are.

York Museum: World War 2 + More

I would like to call the next section World War 2 but it covers a few different time zones and this also includes the WW2 and beyond including the rationing era. My Grandma always talked about the rations, and I have been to Eden Camp before and written about rationing so it was nice to see what this section had to offer.

grandmas kitchen castle museum
Though Me & Dom stood for a moment when we saw this kitchen. Both comparing it to what our grandma’s kitchen looked like when we were growing up. Especially the small little dining tables they had in the small terrace houses.
fairy liquid price back then
I also had to zoom in on the price of the washing up liquid. I wish that Fairy was that price now!

Then because it’s a very kids-friendly kind of place there was also a kids kitchen for the little ones to play in, on our way around.

Next step was the Victorian Streets which is what many mention as their favourite part of York Castle Museum.

Victorian Streets

The Victorian Streets is exactly what you would expect. A long winding street loaded with Victorian era style shops and a cobbled street. We had such fun is that section and if you want a Victorian street look, then you certainly get it here.

This Victorian Street scene is so beautiful and its nice to spend a little extra time here admiring the beauty of it and the attention to detail that has gone into creating it.

victorian street shop example
This is just one small part of the Victorian Street Scene. There is so much to see down here and they also add some scent to the air so that it really does feel like a Victorian Street.
victorian street scene
Then I also checked out all the window displays before heading into the next section of the museum. As we walk around I just cant believe how big it is!

York Museum: Back To School

Another area that Sofia and Jorge just loved was the back to school section. They got to see what an old fashioned school looked like.

They checked out the desks, the work they did, the large blackboards and Sofia even did some reading whilst we were in there.

sofia and jorge school at castle museum york
This is Sofia and Jorge checking out the desks at the school. I don’t think they could believe how the school room looked back then vs now.
sofia reading what they did back then at york museum
Sofia also found a paper on the desk of what kids did at school back then and did a great job of reading it to me and Jorge.

York Museum: World War 1

We have already done World War 2 and of course, York history wouldn’t be the same without an honourable mention for World War 1.

I loved the display for the first world war at York Museum. A lot of big displays with writing so that you could easily digest all the information.

The first one that grabbed my attention was lads without a care in the world on Scarborough Beach before the outbreak of the war.  

ww1 at castle museum in york
This is one of the areas that talks about the first world war. We just loved reading up on it all and learning more about it.

York Museum: York Prison

York prison and the prison tours is also widely well known in York for a taste of the prisoners that once stayed here.

I have to say we LOVED the York prison section and was wondering when we were going to get to this part, as by this point we had been in the museum a while, and it felt like it was never going to happen. Talk about being impatient!

Well, we finally made it to the York prisons and there was lots of cells you could sit in and then a speaker and screen on the prison wall would come up with the information on a particular prisoner. Sometimes you would go in a room and one would be halfway through so you would sit there until it started again and then watch.

You have all these prison tours and all people want to learn about is Dick Turpin and of course, the last of the prison tour speaker featured him and how his execution took place there many, many years ago.

So next time someone asks you “where was Richard Turpin held as a prisoner” you can tell them York prison and you have learnt so much about him. 

the prison cells at the castle museum
Of course, we had been at York Castle Museum for a while now so no surprise that Sofia needed to take an afternoon nap at the prison.

York Museum: Kids Play

Then we finished our trip to the Castle Museum York with a kids play in the outside courtyard. This was fun because it had a lot of toys from the past and it was interesting to watch the kids play with things that are not the fashion now or are the fashion now and have stayed in fashion.

There were hula hoops, footballs, various little ball games and they each took a liking to different things.

Plus, for us old parents, there was some seating so we could sit down and relax whilst the kids played.

sofia testing out the outdoor toys of the castle museum
Here is Sofia would is not very co-ordinated checking out one of the many toys. It took her a while to master it, then it was difficult to get her off them!

Castle Museum York Review

We loved our trip to The Castle Museum and we will be back. That is because it was much more than we ever expected it to be. And from the outside it really doesn’t look like anything special.

Once inside you will be amazed at all the different sections that tell a great imaginative story of the history of York. Its not all in one era either with Georgian, Victorian, WW1 and WW2 along with more modern sections depending on where you are in your museum tour.

A special shout out to the Victorian Street, the toy museum, the York prison and the fashion sections.

I would highly recommend that you visit this museum of York, but I don’t recommend doing so with your York Pass. This is because we spent over 2.5 hours here and felt like it was a day trip in itself along with doing something free in York like the York Walls and some nice lunch somewhere.

Because York Museum is so grand it eats into a lot of your York Pass time and can mean it will stop you fitting in more things on your York Pass days and is so good it should be celebrated in its own right.

York Castle Museum Visitor Information

  • Where is York Castle Museum located? The castle museum is located on Tower Street in York City Centre.
  • Does York Castle Museum have parking? Yes, it does. But the spaces are limited, and we recommend instead that you park your car at one of the park and ride locations and then use the park and ride to get into York.
  • How long does it take to go around York Castle Museum? We recommend spending 2.5 hours to 3 hours at the castle museum. Though you can spend longer if you prefer and of course, this doesn’t include having a break in the café for something to eat and drink.
  • Is York Castle worth a visit? Yes, the York Castle is very much worth a visit and we will gladly visit again. Out of all the York attractions we have tried so far, its our true favourite.
  • Is the Castle Museum free? No, you have to pay to use the castle museum. Though its very much worth paying for.
  • Is York Castle Museum included in York Pass? Yes, it is. We visited York Castle Museum as part of our 3 day York Pass and it is easy just give the staff at the museum your QR code from your York Pass.
  • Does York Castle Museum have a café? Yes, it does. Though because we were heading out to our next attraction we didn’t stay in the café. But if we were on a day trip to York and just visiting the museum we would do so.
  • What are York Castle Museum opening times? The castle museum opening times are 10am to 5pm. So, if you are planning a day of it at York book your tickets for 10am and then you can do something else in the afternoon.
  • York Castle Museum tickets. The castle museum prices are very reasonable and for a family of four (2 adults and 2 kids) you are looking at a spend of £39.00. Though we had the museum included in our York Pass.
  • What is York Pass? I have mentioned our York Pass a few times. Basically, it’s a York ticket where you have access to loads of York attractions for a set price. Kind of like when you get a special pass for theme parks. I recommend you read our York pass review here because we explain how to do it and save money as its easy to waste money on it. Plus, we run through all the attractions we did for the pass including our trip to castle museum.

Pin York Castle Museum For Later!

Well, that’s a wrap, do you have any questions then do ask below and if you want to refer back, to this later for planning your York day out then don’t forget to pin it to your travel board or days out board on Pinterest.

Our Trip To York Castle Museum

You Should Plan A Visit To York Castle Museum
About the author

Run by Sam, Dom, Kyle, Sofia & Jorge it documents our family’s love for eating out, day trips, road trips and great holidays.

We just love a trip, we love to travel, and here we will show you with a little planning, how to have a great adventure and create new memories along the way!

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