Craven Museum & Gallery

Craven Museum & Gallery
Location of Craven Museum
Established 1928
Location Skipton, Town Hall, High Street, North Yorkshire, BD23 1AH, England
Coordinates 53°57′42″N 2°00′57″W / 53.961663°N 2.015883°W / 53.961663; -2.015883

Craven Museum & Gallery is a museum located in the town of Skipton, North Yorkshire, England in the Skipton Town Hall and has a collection of local artefacts which depict life in Craven from the prehistoric times to the modern day.[1][2][3] Entry into both the museum and gallery is free.[4]


The museum was found on 6 October 1928 by a group of enthusiasts who were members of local groups such as the Craven Naturalists and Scientific Association, Skipton Mechanics' Institute, Friends Adult School and the Workers' Educational Association, to house a number of existing collections including the finds from the Elbolton Cave excavations, the Craven Herbarium and Richard Tiddeman's reef knoll collection.[5][6][7] It was opened by Sir Henry Alexander Miers who was president of the museums association.[8] The museum was located in a room in Skipton library and had its own committee and trustees, with some members being local figureheads such as Mr J Dufty who was a master at the local Grammar school.[5][9][10][11]

In 1934 in order to ensure the survival of the museum and allow the museum to grow, responsibility of museum was given to Skipton Urban District Council.[5] The museum continued to gather more objects for its collection and increase in size and this was the status quo for over 30 years.[5] On 21 April 1969 the Friends of the Craven Museum was established with Dr. Arthur Raistrick as its chair.[12][13] Within a matter of months its membership had reached a hundred members. The friends were on the constant lookout for anything that could be added to the museum’s collection.[12]

Volunteers played a vital part in the museum especially when it came to transporting heavier objects to the museum such as a Derbyshire ore crusher which was moved over the moors to a van which took it to the museum where it was restored and unveiled to the public in 1970.[5] Volunteers did other tasks such as labelling exhibits, carrying out research on the collection and cleaning displays. The friends also funded excavations the most notable being a tilery kiln in nearby Rylstone.[5] On 11 December 1973 the museum was officially moved across the road to its current location in Skipton Town Hall.[14][15]

In 2005 an exhibitions gallery was opened which hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions every year. In 2015 the museum received initial support for a £2.1 million redevelopment project called “Stories and Treasures of street and dale” which aims to update the museum's facilities.[16][17]


The museum has a variety of objects from Prehistoric Craven to the modern day. Objects come from all over the world ranging from Italy to Egypt. Objects range from costumes, photographs, agricultural tools, naturalists collections and an oral history collection.[18][19][20]


The museum's biology collection consists mainly of the collection of naturalists and enthusiast collectors. Collections include the Colonel Tottie 19th century bird egg collection, the entomology collection, the botany collection and the zoology collection.[21]


The Geology collection is made up of a variety of rocks, minerals and fossils,most of which were collected by local collector Welbury Wilkinson Holgate and Dr Arthur Raistrick.[21] Many of the rocks and minerals are from the Craven area, like limestone and of fossils in the collection range from ammonites, coral and bivalves to the vertebrae of an Ichthyosaurus.[21][22]


The archaeology finds range from the Paleolithic to post medieval many of which have been found on local excavations. Collections include cave finds from nearby Elbolton and Victoria caves, a lithics collection, finds from Doggerbank, Roman finds from nearby Kirk Sink Villa and from the Sunderland collection, and an Elizabethan coin hoard.[23][23][24][25]

Social History

The museum has a collection of artefacts associated with social history in Craven. The artefacts cover homelife with a display of domestic appliances, childhood with a collection of toys, working life with exhibits on agriculture and lead mining and notable people from Craven such as the Calendar girls, co-founder of Marks and Spencer, Thomas Spencer and Thomas Cresap, who became a pioneer in America.[26][27][28][29]

Oral History

Over the last four decades, the museum has interviewed local people to find out more about the history of the Craven area. There are seventy tapes overall covering topics such as life during the World Wars, working on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and farming.[30]


Museum has an eclectic collection of oil and watercolour paintings, prints, textiles and sculptures, many made by local artists such as Reginald Arthur Smith, Kenneth Holmes and William Shuttleworth.[31][32][33] The majority of the paintings feature local scenery or people such as Lady Anne Clifford of Skipton Castle.[34] A large portion of the art collection is made up of the famous Roebuck collection belonging to art collector Clement Roebuck.[35]


There is a collection of costumes and accessories in the museum, many of which are on permanent display.[36] These include dresses from the 18th century up to the contemporary pieces like 1940's evening dresses and uniforms from the Skipton Brass Band and the Home Guard and accessories include spectacles and Ladies handbags.[36]

Notable collections

First Folio

An incomplete copy of Shakespeare's First Folio owned by a local businessman and donated by his daughter in the 1930s and was misidentified as a second folio until recently when it was identified by Dr. Anthony James West.[37] The folio is one of only four on display in the world.[38]

The Flasby Sword

An Iron Age Celtic sword which was found on nearby Flasby moor and was owned by Captain Preston of Flasby hall and was eventually donated to the museum.[39] The sword was made around the end of the Iron Age, the sword is made of iron and the scabbard is made of copper and is lined with wood with typical Celtic decorations on it.[40] Because of how well it was preserved, it is believed that the sword was thrown into a pit as a ritual offering.[41]

Merovingian Frankish Gold Tremissis

A Frankish gold coin dating from made between 580AD and 630AD and was found in the 1970s in the Holy Trinity Church in Skipton during construction work.[42] A small hole near the edge of the coin suggest it may been worn as a pendant.[43] The Tremissis it is also part of the BBCs a history of the world project.[42]

Hebden Hoard

A collection of 33 silver Denarii dating from 30AD to 170AD found in nearby Hebden by two metal detectorists Colin Binns and Mick Wilson. It is believed the hoard may have been hidden by a legionnaire for when he left the army and settled in the area.[44]

Celtic Carved Head

Stone carved head dating from Celtic Britain and is believed to have been used for ritual purposes such as an offering to a deity or as a symbol of power.[45]

Andrew Triggs Hodge And Danielle Brown Objects

Objects belonging to Olympic rower Andrew Triggs Hodge and Paralympic archer Danielle Brown, including the oar that Triggs Hodge used during the coxless four 2012 London Olympic final and the all in one racing suit he was wearing. There is also the target face that Brown used in the semi final of the women's individual compound open during the 2012 Paralympic games.

Mouseman Collection

A collection of 17 objects made by the famous carver Robert Thompson otherwise known as 'Mouseman'.[46] Museum received collection from the son of Kenneth Hodgson, who was an avid collector of 'Mouseman' furniture.[46]

Roebuck Collection

145 pieces of art given to the museum by millionaire Clement Roebuck in 1988.[47] Roebuck was an avid art collector and sat on the selection committee for the Huddersfield art gallery and would often acquire pieces rejected by the committee.[48] In later life he moved to Starbotton in Upper Wharfedale and then Langbar near Bolton Abbey.[48]

Amethyst Intaglio

Roman engraved amethyst found in nearby Hellifield and donated to the museum in 1934.[49][50] The carving presents a man, possibly Odysseus offering wine to the cyclops Polyphemus before blinding him. Intaglios were used to make seals by stamping the intaglio in wax.[49]


The gallery, which is located next to the Skipton Tourist Information Centre puts on a variety of exhibitions the current one being the Islamic art exhibition Faith in art which showcases all types of Islamic art and is curated by Mobeen Butt of the Muslim Museum Initiative.[51][52]

Past exhibitions include the 800th anniversary Magna Carta exhibition, SELFA Champions! exhibit, and Bike,Legs,Action! an exhibition about the Tour De France and its arrival to Yorkshire.[53][54][55]

In 2014 the museum temporarily loaned the first folio to the Yorkshire Museum in exchange for two Iron Age gold bracelets dating from around 100 BC and are the oldest example of gold found in Yorkshire.[56][57][58]

The gallery is also home to recurring exhibitions like Craven Open which displays the work of local artists and Yarndale a yearly festival in Skipton about all things Yarn related.[59][60]

Visitor information

Craven Museum & Gallery is inside the Town Hall which is located on Skipton High Street. It is approximately a five-minute walk from Skipton bus station and a twenty-minute walk from Skipton train station.[61][62]

Behind the Town Hall there is a large pay and display car park.[62]

Admission into the museum and gallery is free.[61]

Opening hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday 10:00am-4.00pm.[62]

Open on most bank and public holidays with the exception of Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Day and Easter Day.[61]

The Museum and Gallery is always closed from Christmas Day until 1 February to allow essential maintenance to be done.[61]


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Coordinates: 53°57′42.7″N 2°00′58.2″W / 53.961861°N 2.016167°W / 53.961861; -2.016167

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