Workhouse Museum

Experience the grim atmosphere and walk in the footsteps of the Victorian poor

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be poor in Victorian England? Before the welfare system was introduced, those without the means to support themselves would often end up in the workhouse. The grim atmosphere of the Workhouse Museum has been carefully maintained in order to give visitors a sense of what life in a Victorian Workhouse could have been.

National Trust members receive a 25% discount at the three Ripon MuseumsThe Workhouse Museum  The Prison & Police Museum  The Courthouse Museum

Workhouse Museum


The Workhouse Museum occupies two buildings in the centre of Ripon.

Your visit starts in the original Gatehouse building, where you can follow an inmate’s journey through the workhouse, from admittance in the Guardian’s Room, through the indignity of the baths and fumigation process, to the cells where vagrants slept.

Then take a look around the Main Block where you can see the Master’s study and dining room, the pantry, classroom and inmates’ dining hall. Outside the building, you’ll find the Master and Matron’s front garden, which was restored in 2018 with authentic planting.

During your visit save some time to look at the original Workhouse Kitchen Garden, located to the rear of the Workhouse Site, this would have been tended by the inmates and been used to feed them and we use 1860s gardening techniques to cultivate heritage crops.

The Workhouse Museum does not have a cafe, but you can relax and reflect on your visit with a cup of quality Rijo coffee and a biscuit at the end of your visit.

What’s On