England Travel

Ripon museums

There are three museums in Ripon and I will share pictures from all of them. The Ripon museums are the Workhouse, the Prison, and the Courtroom. Only when I wrote this post I realised that I didn’t take pictures of the courthouse from outside. I will share a few details too, explanations for some of the photos.

Ripon Workhouse

This is the Workhouse. It’s smaller than when it was built, but it is very interesting and well worth visiting. I selected a few pictures from it.


This is the room where the poor would go in to be assessed by the people running the workhouse.


There are pictures on the walls, including this one, from 1934.


All the inmates would be washed and their clothes would be cleaned too.



room for paupers

This is a pauper room.


From this hallway there are small cells for vagrants. They would stay there for only 2 nights maximum, but their clothes would be cleaned, they would have a bath, and they could eat too. It was not free and they were expected to work for their keep.


Washing was done by the inmates. Men would break stones that were used for roads.


This is a representation of a breakfast a vagrant would have. Inmates had a better breakfast.


Master's house

The Master’s room looked exactly as expected from a Victorian middle class setting.

Victorian kitchen

The kitchen was used for the master and inmates too.


Children were taught in schoolrooms like this one.

Prison Museum

The second museum is the Prison Museum, all are in walking distance from each other. Also, there is a ticket for all three museums which is worth getting.


Prison’s hallway looks very much like the one from before, at the workhouse, doesn’t it?







This is less clear what it is. It’s a mantrap used by poachers, which is exactly as a trap the poachers used to catch animals.

Next was the Courthouse museum. As I mentioned, I didn’t take pictures from outside, which is a shame because the building looks beautiful.


There are some interesting facts on display boards, including pictures of the descendents of a couple of people sent to the penal colonies in the 19th century.


8 Comment

  1. I’m not familiar with Ripon. I’m so grateful there are museums like this that tell the stories of people from another era that were challenged in so many ways and how how they lived. I sometimes wonder if they aren’t cleaned up a little too much. That dark hall in the first set, though, was very sobering with not a bit of light.

  2. I would love to visit all three museums! The workhouse in particular. You hear about these in so many Victorian novels, so visiting one must be so interesting. Thank you for sharing little pieces of information about each museum!

    Julia x

  3. I know we have talked about Shepton Mallet prison before, but the town also boasts (if that’s an appropriate word to use) a Victorian workhouse, although like so many of these buildings, it is busy being renovated into “luxury apartments” or similar.

    I guess I am in two minds as to whether these buildings should be preserved at great expense, for posterity, or whether turning them into an externally sympathetic restoration which puts them to good use internally, is the right way to go?

    A fascinating social snapshot though, thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. I think history is important for many reasons, including to understand why are here now in this position, so I would always be in favour of preserved but shared with the public.

  4. Such an amazing selection of snapshots from history. That bath looks horrrendous, not a treat at all! And that p0aching trap is horrific, the poor animals who got caught in one of those 🙁 Really interesting to get an insight into Ripon’s museums, thank you, Anca.

  5. These are fascinating photos and it’s hard to imagine living in these situations. Still, I guess it’s better than being on the street. I like the little schoolroom.
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    1. Some people died in front of the workhouse after they were denied admission. It was not ok by modern standards, but better than what they had before. It’s hard to judge without feeling sorry for these people, many elderly who had no pension as there wasn’t one available at that time.

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