Museum to celebrate its 50th birthday

Jennifer Smith the Director of Ryedale Folk Museum, Hutton Le Hole pictured in the Ryedale Post Office .SH1001/1016h...5th February 2014..Picture by Simon Hulme

Jennifer Smith the Director of Ryedale Folk Museum, Hutton Le Hole pictured in the Ryedale Post Office .SH1001/1016h...5th February 2014..Picture by Simon Hulme

A museum celebrating the rural way of life in the heart of the North York Moors attracts tourists from as far away as Australia.

But now it is looking to woo visitors from a little closer to home as it looks to celebrate an important milestone.

When Ryedale Folk Museum first opened in 1964 it was simply a handful of artefacts showcasing rural and agricultural life in the area put together by a group of local men.

They were exhibited in three rooms which were opened in an evening for the cost of one shilling.

Now 50 years on, it boasts more than 20 buildings spread across six acres in the village of Hutton-le-Hole, near Kirkbymoorside.

However according to director Jennifer Smith its main purpose remains the same.

“We have always been about celebrating the rural way of life in Ryedale. The museum was created by local people with a passion for their heritage and that is what it remains today, “ she said.

To mark the museum’s links with its locality it hosted a Community Day yesterday where residents who live close to the museum were able to visit free of charge.

Ms Smith said: “Many local people do a lot for our museum and offering free entry for the day is part of us saying thank-you. The Ryedale Folk Museum is celebrating its 50th birthday this year and it is a resource that people who live here should be able to come and enjoy.”

The museum was created thanks to the work of three men – Wilfred Crosland, Betram Frank and Raymond Hayes. All three lived in Hutton-le-Hole, and decided to create a museum to help preserve the local way of life.

What started as a collection of rural artefacts then became a mission to preserve the local heritage as buildings in the area were saved or recreated to form part of the museum’s site.

It now features more than 20 including a recreated village store, a Crofter’s Cottage, a Victorian Wash House, trade workshops and a Tudor Mansion House.

It also has 40,000 objects and artefacts on display which capture the rural way of life in Ryedale from the Iron Age to the 20th century.

They include a collection of everyday English antiques and rare curiosities put together by Edward and Richard Harrison.

Spanning five centuries of history, the collection covers everything from cooking pots to brain surgery tools.

Students from Huddersfield University visit the museum to work with the Harrison Collection costume pieces along with related objects and books from the museum’s library and archive.

The museum also boasts a gallery space and runs regular craft sessions.

As well as being a tourist attraction Ryedale Folk Museum also hosts group visits, regularly welcoming members of Kirkbymoorside History Club and pupils from Kirkbymoorside Primary School, Lady Lumley School in Pickering and Welburn Hall School in Kirkbymoorside.

Ms Smith said: “We attract lots of visitors from across the country and indeed across the world. Some can be tourists who want to learn a little more about the area where they are holidaying but we also receive a lot of interest from local people and schools too.

“We have recently had visitors from Australia who had been researching their family history and believed that their ancestors had once lived in White Cottage – one of our buildings. They went away very happy.

“I think one of the things that people like about the museum is that it captures the identity of the local area. It has a real sense of place.”

Such is the success of Ryedale Folk Museum that it beat off competition from the likes of the World of James Herriot museum in Thirsk and the Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds, to be named Small Visitor Attraction in last year’s White Rose Awards.

At the time the museum said: “With us being so hidden away, and to win out of the entirety of Yorkshire is an incredible achievement,”

The free entry day falls in local schools’ half-term holiday week and there will also be holiday activities for youngsters on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday including cooking in the cottages, children’s crafts and a fun trail around the museum’s grounds.

Activities will take place from 11am-4pm each day.

Providing free entry to the museum is part of a wider initiative organised by the Ryedale Heritage Partnership which is funded by Ryedale District Council.

The partnership hopes through a range of promotions to encourage local people to enjoy their local heritage and become a tourist in their own area.

The members of the Ryedale Heritage Partnership also include Beck Isle Museum, Malton Museum, North Yorkshire Moors Railway and the Woodhams-Stone Collection.




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