10 Fascinating Museums, Historic Houses and Gardens to Visit Across Yorkshire this Summer
Go back in time and discover the county's fascinating history
Land of Iron
Discover Britain’s Iron Valley and the people who powered it. On the site of the first ironstone mine (Loftus Mine) in Cleveland, this museum celebrates North Yorkshire’s famous Land of Iron. The Tees Valley was the powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution and 83 ironstone mines dispatched iron worldwide. Experienced guides will take you underground where you’ll be plunged into total darkness before traveling 150 years back in time to discover how the people who worked here supplied over a third of the world’s iron and steel. New for 2023, photographs, mementos and objects in a new interactive exhibition share the stories of the miners and their families. Various events take place throughout the year – on 6th July award-winning folk improvisers The Ciderhouse Rebellion and poet Jessie Summerhayes will perform tracks from Ironstone Tales and Genius Loci 2: The Valley Of Iron.
Mill Lane, Skinningrove TS13 4AP 01287 642877 landofiron.org.uk
Brontë Parsonage Museum
The Brontë Parsonage Museum is one of the most visited and best-preserved literary houses in the country, and the former home of the country’s most famous literary family. Here visitors can see the world’s largest collection of personal items once belonging to the Brontë sisters. Their Contemporary Arts Programme includes literary events, exhibitions, a competition and festivals. The museum’s new exhibition, The Brontës and the Wild, features drawings, manuscripts and personal items reflecting the family’s love of nature, and a new installation by renowned photographer Carolyn Mendelsohn has also been commissioned. Hardy and Free, the new installation, captures the lives of 12 women from the Bradford area in stunning photography, projection and sound, celebrating the deep connection between Yorkshire women and the land.
Church Street, Haworth BD22 8DR 01535 642323 bronte.org.uk
Danum Gallery, Library and Museum
Step inside one of England’s most iconic heritage sites. The Danum Gallery, Library and Museum in Doncaster houses an art gallery, two museums, a library and a rail heritage centre inside a unique, purpose-built architectural wonder. The art gallery currently has a collection of works by Henry Moore on display. Henry Moore: Drawing in the Dark, showing until 26th August, is the largest ever exhibition of coal mining drawings by the celebrated artist. He is most famous for his sculptures and his drawings of Londoners sheltering from The Blitz, but it is often forgotten that Moore was the son of a coal miner from Castleford, Yorkshire. As a war artist, he developed a detailed series of drawings from sketches he made at the mine where his father had worked. Consisting of nearly 100 drawings, showcased alongside sculptures and other works-on-paper, this exhibition invites visitors to journey from quick pencil sketches, through developmental drawings, finished pieces and finally to later works inspired by Moore’s coal mining experience. The Danum Gallery, Library and Museum is in Doncaster city centre, just a 10-minute walk from Doncaster Railway Station and admission is free to all.
Waterdale, Doncaster DN1 3BZ
The Hepworth Wakefield
On the banks of the River Calder, in the heart of Wakefield’s historic waterfront, this award-winning art gallery was designed by the acclaimed David Chipperfield Architects. Named after Barbara Hepworth, one of the most important artists of the 20th century, it plays host to major exhibitions as well as regular fairs and markets supporting artists and makers throughout the year. Free to enter, the Hepworth Wakefield Garden (one of the UK’s largest free public gardens) also plays host to a programme of special events. Plus, you’ll find Wakefield’s art collection here – an impressive compendium of modern British art, including works by Ben Nicholson, Patrick Heron, L.S. Lowry, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore as well as work by significant contemporary artists such as Frank Auerbach, Maggi Hambling, Anthea Hamilton, Martin Parr and Eva Rothschild. On 24th and 25th June, don’t miss their ceramics fair where you can browse traditional and contemporary ceramics, homeware, jewellery and more from 65 of the UK’s best independent ceramicists and potters. There’ll be family activities, talks and a discounted exhibition entry.
Gallery Walk, Wakefield WF1 5AW
RHS Garden Harlow Carr
Harlow Carr is a delightful place in every season with a variety of growing landscapes, from running water to woodland and wildflower meadows. Streamside, one of the original and most iconic areas of the garden, is home to a wide range of wildlife including dippers, tree creepers, weasels and voles. At Queen Mother’s Lake you might see emperor dragonfly (particularly in early summer) and moorhens which nest in the floating duck house. A recent addition to the western lakeside is a perennial wildflower meadow which attracts bees, butterflies and hovering insects. While the garden won’t be holding the Flower Show this year while changes take place in the garden, there are a brand new series of Gardening Inspiration Weekends taking place in summer and autumn, as well as garden tours, beekeeping taster days and photography lessons.
Crag Lane, Beckwithshaw, Harrogate HG3 1QB
Science and Media Museum
A great place for everyone to learn through play, here your children can explore how photography was invented in the Kodak Gallery and ignite their curiosity in the Wonderlab with its mind-bending exhibits. Live experiments and extraordinary experiences will feed their curiosity. Enjoy an out-of-this-world experience thanks to a new interactive installation by acclaimed choreographer Corey Baker or play the day away in the games lounge. Plus, don’t miss Bradford Science Festival when it returns from 23rd May–4th June with an unmissable programme of events, including discovering some of the amazing science happening locally to make Bradford a more sustainable city. It’s a great day out for all the family.
Bradford BD1 1NQ
Award-winning Eden Camp isn’t your average World War II museum. Built on the site of a real prisoner of war camp, each hut holds its own element of history, shining a light on different areas of wartime Britain on the home front and the front line. It starts with the rise of the Nazi Party then shares stories of rationing, propaganda, women at war and The Red Cross. During the winter months of 2021 and into 2022 refurbishment works took place and now visitors can enjoy a new Blitz experience in Hut 5, a re-modelled front entrance and new exhibition spaces, including a huge Heritage Exhibition Hall. Don’t miss Eden Camp’s Living History Weekend (26th–27th August) where you’ll experience the sights and sounds of wartime Britain as volunteers take you back in time to the 1940s. There’ll be talks, demonstrations, live music and military displays and the play area will be open for the children to let off some steam.
Malton YO17 6RT 01653 697777 edencamp.co.uk
With summer festivals, outdoor theatre, exhibitions and the stunning house and grounds, Harewood House always promises a fabulous family day out. It’s one of the Treasure Houses of England and was built in the 18th century with art collections that rival many others (today there are paintings by masters of the Italian Renaissance, family portraits by Reynolds, Hoppner and Lawrence, and modern art collected by the current Earl and Countess). Explore the house’s many grand rooms then take a stroll around the grounds which are decorated with a variety of plants from all over the world. Don’t miss the Farm Experience where you’ll meet friendly alpacas, pot-bellied pigs and pygmy goats. Discover Harewood’s medieval past with children’s archaeology sessions this summer; and catch a performance of Romeo and Juliet, Sense and Sensibility and Wizard of Oz outdoors; and join the monthly LEGO or art clubs.
Harewood, north Leeds 0113 218 1010 harewood.org
Jorvik Viking Centre
With state-of-the-art galleries, a collection of more than 1,000 artefacts, innovative touch-screen displays, and a fantastic moving capsule ride with updated animatronics, the world famous Jorvik Viking Centre brings York’s Viking past back to life. Everything you can see here is based on actual archaeological evidence found during the Coppergate excavation, with an emphasis on accurately recreating every detail. One of the largest Viking hoards ever discovered in the UK has been loaned to JORVIK Viking Centre by Lancashire County Museum Service – don’t miss the Silverdale Hoard on display until October. It offers a glimpse into a time when the trading town of Jorvik was at its peak.
19 Coppergate, York YO1 9WT
Yorkshire Air Museum
One of the largest independent museums of aviation in the UK, Yorkshire Air Museum sits on the former site of RAF Elvington. The Main Hangar is where you’ll find various changing exhibits and aircraft (some of which are moved outside in summer months). Plus, don’t miss the Bomber Command exhibition where you’ll learn about the history and achievements of the force. The original RAF Elvington control tower is currently closed for restoration works. Grab lunch in Café 77 (named after one of the WW2 squadrons based at RAF Elvington) and take home a souvenir from the shop.
Halifax Way, Elvington, York YO41 4AU