Clifton House, built in 1783, is a Grade II* listed building designed by John Carr of York. It was once the seat of the Walker family, who were early industrialists involved in the manufacture of iron and steel. The house and park were purchased by the Municipal Borough of Rotherham in 1891 and the museum was first opened to the public later that year with the majority of its exhibits loaned by local people. The early Rotherham galleries show the development of Rotherham from its geological foundations to the English Civil War. The galleries focus on the Pre-historic, Roman and Medieval periods, making use of a wide range of collections material, interactives and set dressing. In the Victorian Galleries you can discover what life was like in Victorian Rotherham. What toys did they play with? Where did they work? How did they clean? The answers are here.The Library Gallery focuses on collecting from the past. See the weird and wonderful acquired by Rotherham collectors in the past, from the two bodied kitten to mummified Egyptian animals.
Rotherham holds the best public collection of Rockingham pottery anywhere in the world. Since the first item was given to the Museum in 1908, many more items have been acquired by gift, purchase and bequest. The largest and most important item within the Rockingham collection is the Rhinoceros Vase. This vase, which was produced in 1826, was at the time of its production the largest piece of porcelain to have been fired in one piece anywhere in the world. The vase, which stands at 1.15m high, was made as a demonstration piece for display at the factory showroom. It is richly decorated with delicately painted scenes from Don Quixote, painted by John Wager Brameld. The Yorkshire potteries collection consists of around 300 items of ceramics produced by the non-Rockingham potteries in Yorkshire. These items were manufactured at other Rotherham based potteries, such as Holmes Pottery, Rawmarsh Top Pottery and Kilnhurst Old Pottery, as well as at potteries further afield in Yorkshire, for example Leeds Pottery and Don Pottery, both of which have Rockingham connections. The general ceramics collection includes pieces used locally and those used as reference samples for non-local factories to demonstrate the similarity to Rockingham or other Yorkshire potteries.
There are some fine examples of taxidermy including Nelson and Marco. Nelson is a magnificent specimen of the Cape Lion from South Africa. The Cape Lion, panthera leo melanochaita, was the largest species of lion, greyish-yellow in colour with a dark mane. Cape Lions were exterminated by European settlers who colonised South Africa and are now extinct. Nelson was brought to England on 28th October 1859, together with a second lion. He was looked after by London Zoo, where he lived until his death in 1872. It is claimed that he lived to be twenty-five years old. If this is true then he was much older than most zoo lions. he Brown Bear was once found throughout most of Europe but has been exterminated in most areas because of the danger it posed to man and his livestock. It is now restricted to parts of the Alps and Pyrenees, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. During the Roman occupation of Britain our Brown Bears were exported to Rome to appear in circuses, but had all been wiped out by the 10th Century. Bears were later imported from the Continent for the “sport” of bear-baiting, in which a tethered bear was set upon by dogs. Dancing bears were also used as entertainment at fairs and in the street. Marco was modelled by Graham Teasdale of Barbot Hall, Greasbrough, around 1976. The Hall is also home to the York and Lancaster Regimental Museum.
The Park has a water spalash and garden sports including bowls. Only assistance dogs are allowed inside the Museum and cafe. Disabled toilets are available in the Museum, garden house and water splash area. The water splash also has disabled changing facilities and hoist. The play area has accessible equipment so everyone can join in the fun. There is a network of wheelchair and pushchair friendly paths throughout the Park. Mobility scooters are free to hire for a returnable deposit from the garden house. Clifton Park Museum is accessible to all. A wide selection of interactives are available around the museum; these include photo books and computer terminals as well as colouring sheets and puzzles, all of which are at low level. Some of the interactives have sound which is controlled by pressing the button on and off. The galleries are bright and lit with spotlights on the ceiling as well as each case having its own lighting. There is no background music. A lift is available to take you to the first floor where further displays can be found. The lift has Braille buttons and sound to identify the floor; it is well lit and has a mirror on one side.
Location : Clifton Lane, Rotherham, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S65 2AA
Transport: Rotherham (National Rail) 3/4 mile. Bus Routes : 14 stops outside.
Opening Times : Monday to Friday 10:00 - 17:00; Saturdays 09:30am - 17:00; Sundays 13:30pm - 16:30pm
Tickets House: Free.
Tel: 01709 336633