Yes there was a county called Richmondshire. The history of this district in antiquity is not well known, but the closest important Roman settlement was at Catterick in what became known as Rheged, site of the Battle of Catterick. At the terminus of Scandinavian York, there was a local bout of rebellion in Stainmore, which resulted in the death of Eric Bloodaxe. The Scandinavian settlement of this area was eastwards from the Irish Sea with names such as Gilpatrick in Middleham and Thorfinn in Bedale occurring at the time of the Domesday Book. At the time of the Norman Conquest it was the Fee of Gillingshire, held by Edwin, Earl of Mercia. Gillingshire was made up of the Borough of Richmond and five wapentakes of Gilling West, Gilling East, Hang West, Hang East and Hallikeld. After the Harrying of the North, the land became capital of the Duchy of Brittany's Honour of Richmond (first as a barony, then a county and later a dukedom). The Honour of Richmond was one of the three largest lordships created by William the Conqueror. King William granted it to his double-second-cousin, Alan the Red, the leader of the Bretons in England and a cousin of Hawise, Duchess of Brittany.
Visits to the museum start in the cruck house. This building was originally sited in the village of Ravensworth. Built in the 15th century, using the timber-framed construction form of crucks, it is the last known example to survive in the area. Plans to demolish the Cruck House in the late 1970’s resulted in a stone-by-stone move to the museum. A cruck or crooked beam is obtained by splitting a curved tree trunk in half. The symmetrical crucks are then joined with a tie-beam in the shape of an A to form a framework of both the walls and roof of a building. The timber crucks would have supported a thatched roof of heather and moss and walls of wattle and daub- a mixture of mud and straw plastered over a lattice-work of thin wood. Lead Mining played a very important part in the history of Richmondshire from Roman times until the beginning of the twentieth century. The Romans used lead to make pipes, vital for the distribution of water. In the Middle Ages lead from Yorkshire was used in the construction of the magnificent cathedrals, monasteries and guild halls which were being built across the whole of the British Isles. The industry thrived once again during the Industrial Revolution and remained so until the start of the twentieth century, when it fell into decline. Lead mines were dotted throughout Swaledale and Wensleydale, the lead being carried by pony to the ports on the river Tees. In the nineteenth century ingots were transported by horse and cart to Richmond railway station from where they were distributed more widely throughout Britain and the Empire. The lead mining gallery at Richmondshire Museum tells the story of this once vital industry.
On display is part of the set used for the making of the film “All Creatures Great & Small” based on the books written by the veterinary surgeon James Herriot. Say “Fenwick’s” and most people think of the department stores. But it is little known that the founder of this business empire was born in Richmond and started his working life in his father’s shop. Richmondshire Museum has recreated this original shop in a small courtyard where it sits adjacent to a recreation of a Victorian Ironmonger's. n the Transport Gallery at Richmondshire Museum there is a marvellous HO/OO scale model of Richmond railway station. The model depicts the station as it was in 1900. There is also an HO/OO scale model of Easby railway bridge. These exhibits are a must for railway enthusiasts along with a three and one-half inch gauge working model of a North Eastern Railway locomotive. Amongst the many other items on display in the room are plans for the station, railway posters and artwork along with an original Victorian penny farthing bicycle and one-hundred year old memorabilia relating to Richmond Cyclists Meet.
The first floor Wenham Gallery is the largest and most wide ranging gallery covering a large timeframe from the prehistoric, through the Roman and early modern period right up to the twentieth century. The diversity of Richmondshire history is illustrated from a rare Bronze Age sickle to the 'old hoss' who still wanders Richmond town and its surrounding villages during Christmas time. Richmondshire Museum has a large collection of children's toys and some of them are on display in a small dedicated gallery which is set into a small nook within the museum. There is wheelchair access to all galleries via the main door. There are many tactile exhibits. Magnifying glasses, pens and paper can be available on request. There are both male and female toilets however the toilet that is suitable for wheelchair use is the ladies so this can be unisex use.The width of the WC door is large enough for a wheelchair and there is plenty of room inside for a wheelchair. Braille is currently unavailable on boards; but this is part of an ongoing program to create a more accessible museum experience.
Location : Ryders Wynd, Richmond, North Yorkshire DL10 4JA
Transport: Darlington (National Rail) 12 miles by bus. Bus routes : Max x26, Max x27, 26A, 32, 54 and X54 stop nearby.
Opening Times : Daily through October - 10:30 to 16:30
Tickets : Adult £3.00. – Concessions £2.50. - Children Free.
Tel: 01748 825611