- Cliffe Castle Museum
Cliffe Castle Museum
Cliffe Castle Museum, Keighley
Established ca.1892 as Keighley Museum. Reopened in 1959 as Cliffe Castle Museum. Location Spring Gardens Lane, Keighley, West Yorkshire, England BD20 6LH Type Heritage centre, Historic house museum. Visitor figures 65,000 (2009) Public transit access Keighley railway station; bus information from Bradford Interchange Website www.bradfordmuseums.org
Cliffe Castle Museum, Keighley, West Yorkshire, England, is a local heritage museum which opened in the grand, Victorian, neo-Gothic Cliffe Castle in 1959. The museum is the successor to Keighley Museum which opened in Eastwood House, Keighley, in ca.1892. There is a series of galleries dedicated to various aspects of local heritage, and to displaying the house itself. Entrance to the museum is free of charge.
The history of the museum
It is believed that Keighley Museum was established in 1892, because that is when its first location, Eastwood House, Keighley, was purchased for the public. In 1950 the local benefactor Sir Bracewell Smith purchased Cliffe Castle, and had it redesigned as a museum and art gallery for the people of Keighley. The museum re-opened as Cliffe Castle Museum and Art Gallery in 1959.
The Cliffe Castle building
The original Cliffe Hall was built by Christopher Netherwood between 1828 and 1833, and designed by George Webster of Kendal, a gothic revivalist. The Butterfields, a textile manufacturing family, bought Cliffe Hall in 1848. Henry Butterfield transformed the building by adding towers, a ballroom and conservatories from 1875 to 1880, re-naming it Cliffe Castle in 1878. He decorated the building with the griffin motif, which he had adopted as a heraldic crest.
In 1949 the building and grounds were bought by Keighley Corporation with the assistance of Sir Bracewell Smith, a local benefactor who in 1955 paid for the conversion of the house for public use. The house had been gabled in the neo-gothic style, with tall towers each end, and great conservatories. In the interests of modernisation, the back tower was taken down, and the front one shortened. The high Flemish gables and other decorations were removed from the roof, and the conservatories demolished. The service rooms were replaced by the octagonal art gallery, which is a 1950s building. The exterior fantasy design was lost forever; however some of the neo-gothic interior has been recreated recently.
Victorian Gothic Revival gateway arch and pedestrian entrance to the Museum.
The galleries and rooms
The vestibule and staircase show the Victorian eclectic Gothic Revivalist taste. The hammer beam roof over the staircase imitates the 15th century, the staircase window the 14th century, and the vestibule arches the 13th century.
The window was designed by Powells of Leeds. The top roundel features a copy of Raphael's Madonna and Child. All ten main lights of the window once contained Victorian figures in Tudor costume, but most of these were removed by Frederick Butterfield, to be replaced with clear lights or small roundels.
Great Drawing Room
Working Landscapes gallery
The display shows how the River Aire was formed, and shows fossils of its earliest animals.
Educational fossil display.
Archaeology Area gallery
Natural history gallery
This was once the Butterfields' ballroom, and this is where the white lace 1880s dress in the Costume gallery was worn. It is now full of mounted animals and birds. There is a family of tawny owls and a birdsong display. Sadly, the mounted emu given by Ilkley Museum in 1928 is no longer evident, but there are many other fine examples of the taxidermist's craft.
Molecules to Minerals gallery
This beautifully arranged and classified display was created in 1988, and incorporates collections from several museums in the Bradford area. It includes the cherished Ellison Collection, given by Ilkley Museum in 1928. Very few of the collections are named in the display.
Some of the more glamorous specimens are from the Hinchcliffe Collection. This comprises 800 specimens from the Gem Rock Museum at Heaton, Bradford, bought with grants and public subscription from George Hinchcliffe in 1984. The display explains how minerals are different from rocks, and has sections about: mineral colour; streak; hardness; magnetism; fluorescence; fracture; chemical classification; crystal shape, crystallisation, chemistry and occurrence.
There are over a thousand specimens here, including a display of glowing rocks. It is "still considered one of the best displays between London and Edinburgh".
Sir Bracewell Smith Hall art gallery
This space was created in the 1950s, and is used for a series of exhibitions of artworks.
The Egyptians gallery
This downstairs room acts as an accessible space for themes covered upstairs.
This room contains no exhibits and is used as a teaching or activity room.
Stained Glass gallery
Keighley Stories gallery
This gallery aims to tell the story of Keighley. It also, in passing, helps to retain a sense of local identity in the populace, who continue to return from far away to re-live the pleasures of their childhood by seeing again the exhibits which they remember from long-ago visits to the Museum. This is the gallery to which they bring their grandchildren. It is therefore a more important gallery than it might first appear. It includes the Keighley Hen Pecked Club's peace box. This is an adult-sized wooden rocking cradle, supposedly for soothing nagging wives instead of babies. It had humorous rules and was displayed in galas, but it is not known whether it was used. The club used to meet at the Royal Hotel, Damside, and was started by Henry Hargreaves Thompson, who was landlord in 1861. The pub became the Royal Oak in 1998.
Working beehive (having recently passed a health check) with glass viewing panel.
Mansion to Museum gallery
This gallery, round the top of the octagonal Sir Bracewell Smith Hall, shows the development of the building from a Victorian private house to a contemporary museum. The "Chinese Chandelier", which held the wooden harpies below, once hung in Cliffe Castle.
Local Pottery gallery
The displays here are placed in recognition of a past local skill, and a trade which was significant in the Keighley area.
Display of UK military cap badges, in first floor corridor. View full resolution to read labels.
Other aspects of the Museum
- The Friends of Cliffe Castle is the society which has researched and supported much of the restoration and improvement to the Museum which has taken place in recent years. A leaflet about the society is available at the Museum.
- Education programme: School workshops and trails can be booked for Key Stages 1–3, and occasionally for adult and SEN groups.
- ^ a b c Information from museum staff.
- ^ a b c d e f g Leaflet: Cliffe Castle Museum, 2007.
- ^ a b c d West Yorkshire Archaeology Service, Historic Houses of West Yorkshire: Cliffe Castle Keighley leaflet, 1995.
- ^ Querns are mentioned in a 1925 description of Ilkley Museum's exhibits (see Ilkley and its Museum 1892-1992 by Edwards and Shillitoe 1992, p.12); some items were handed over to Keighley museum in 1928, and there is no quern on display at Ilkley now.
- ^ See notice in Costume gallery.
- ^ a b c Memorandum from A. Armstrong (Natural Science Curator) to Museum staff, 17 May 2002.
- ^ Gavin Edwards and Denise Shillitoe, Ilkley and its Museum 1892–1992, (1992). (Available at Manor House Museum.)
- ^ As at May 2009.
- ^ a b "Vale n Dale: Public Houses, Pubs, Beer Houses and Hotels in Keighley". Royal Hotel Damside. Valendale. 2009. http://www.valendale.myby.co.uk/pubs.html. Retrieved 27 March 2010.
- ^ See label on wall of Mansion to Museum Gallery.
- ^ Leaflet: Friends of Cliffe Castle (available at the Museum).
- ^ Cliffe Castle Museum website: Education programme page.
West Yorkshire museums City of Bradford museumsBaildon: Bracken Hall Countryside Centre and Museum
Bradford: Bolling Hall Museum · Bradford Industrial Museum · Cartwright Hall · National Media Museum · Peace Museum
Haworth: Brontë Parsonage Museum
Ilkley: Ilkley Toy Museum · Manor House Museum
Keighley: Cliffe Castle Museum · East Riddlesden Hall · Keighley and Worth Valley Railway · Museum of Rail Travel
Saltaire: Salts Mill
Calderdale museums Kirklees museums City of Leeds museumsAberford: Lotherton Hall
Leeds: Abbey House Museum · Armley Mills Industrial Museum · Bramham Park · Harewood House · Henry Moore Institute in Leeds · Kirkstall Abbey · Leeds Art Gallery · Leeds City Museum · Leeds College of Art · Middleton Railway Museum · Royal Armouries Museum · Temple Newsam · Thackray Museum · Thwaite Mills Museum
Otley: Otley Museum
City of Wakefield museums
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