Busiest ever single day at Ripon Museums

Lola (7) & Ellie Bryl (9) with Carrie Phillip at Ripon Museums Half term activities - Punch and Judy
Lola (7) & Ellie Bryl (9) with Carrie Phillip at Ripon Museums Half term activities - Punch and Judy

The first day of the half term family holiday fun at Ripon’s Workhouse Museum kicked off a fun and busy week.

The lunchtime Punch and Judy show had visitors young and old enthralled and following the show there was also a chance to handle the puppets which proved very popular.

Young history lovers, Ellie Bryl, 9, and Lola Bryl, 7, were visiting the museum with mum Sophie from Harrogate. Sophie said: “Both the children are keen on history and we are regular visitors to Ripon Museums, we try and come a few times a year.

“They are currently studying the Victorian era at school (Beckwithshaw Primary) so the museum helps to bring this alive for them.

“They particularly enjoy the traditional craft activities which the museum organises during school holidays, and in the past have learnt rag rugging techniques here!”

Their friends, Evie Tiller, 3, and Jacob Tiller, 6, also from Harrogate said that the performance was “good!”

Punch and Judy is a popular pastime at Ripon Museums and this performance was created by learning manager, Carrie Phillip, whose creative energy is put to good use in this tongue in cheek historic frolic which includes strings of sausages, babies and policeman!

Museum Director James Etherington said: “Today (Monday) was our single busiest day ever at the museums, we were also nearly twice as busy as last year.”

Traditional crafts on offer include making a bird scarer, a fun craft activity with a historic tale. In the Victorian times people, often children, were employed by farmers as bird scarers. They had to stand in a field and scare the birds away from the crops, they had to stand outside in all weathers for very long hours, for which they were only rewarded with a few pence. They used to scare the birds away with objects such as clappers and rattles, wooden contraptions that made a loud noise.

Learning Manager Carrie Philip said: “We look forward to welcoming today’s urchins, sprogs and guttersnipes – to find out what happened to children in Victorian times. We believe making our family learning as engaging and hands-on on as possible because that’s the best way to get people to think about the issues.

“Children love hearing about Ripon’s version of the Artful Dodger’s gang but this time with girls in charge! In 1853 Ann Lupton, aged 14, Ann Elsworth, aged 13, and Frances Paylor, aged 12, all of Ripon, were charged at the Courthouse (now the Courthouse Museum) with pick-pocketing and shop-lifting, notably of silk handkerchiefs. They were found guilty and sentenced to hard labour at the House of Correction (now the Prison & Police Museum) with a bread and water diet two days a week.

“One of our activities this week is to decorate a silk handkerchief, attempt to pick-pocket a gentleman’s silk handkerchief and when caught be sentenced to hard labour with some sweeping and cleaning.”

Activites are still taking place today (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday) at Ripon’s Workhouse Museum. Activities are free but museum entry prices apply.

For more details visit www.riponmuseums.co.uk/events