Bailiffgate Museum and Gallery
- Learn how to write using runes in the Viking area of Bailiffgate Museum.
- Explore over 10,000 years of local history, all within a stone's throw of Alnwick Castle.
- Kids will have a ball following the mouse hunt around the museum, and dressing up in historical clothes.
- Head to one of the local art events put on at the Bailiffgate Museum Gallery for an exhibition to remember.
Situated in the Northumberland town of Alnwick, just a stone's throw from Alnwick Castle, which was famously used a location in the first two Harry Potter films, Bailiffgate Museum and Gallery is a small yet fascinating venue to check out on your visit to the area. With two floors dedicated to people's history, art and archives, Bailiffgate offers a unique and thoughtful look into the town's past.
With over 10,000 years of history to explore, Bailiffgate Museum and Gallery isn't short of things to learn and discover. Children can head to the Victorian School Room to learn about what life was like for kids their age 150 years ago, or dress up in historical outfits. The museum mouse, named 'Finlay', is always around to help kids learn about the collection, and bring some understanding to the collections on a hunt around the museum. There is also an old printmaking machine that will interest those who like art, design and machinery, accompanied by a statue of a man operating it. Not quite Madame Tussaud's, but certainly unique, Bailiffgate has a charm that has kept visitors coming for years. You can also find a kitchen that is created to show what everyday life would have looked like for miners iin Northumberland, as well as objects from an ancient house that existed 10,000 years ago.
Bailiffgate Museum and Gallery is hard to miss as you wander around Alnwick. Located within an old church that dates back to the 19th century, Bailiffgate is in the Castle Quarter of Alnwick, the oldest area of the town due to the castle, and is steeped in local heritage and history. The site itself first became a religious building in the 18th century, when it was bought as a Jesuit church. Bailiffgate became the museum we know today in 2002, with support from local patrons. If you're looking for great things to do in Alnwick, this people's museum should definitely be on the list.
As well as the fascinating artefacts on display within the two floors themselves, you can also explore the Bailiffgate Museum Gallery, which is home to many exhibitions and events all year round. Bailiffgate Museum Gallery is keen to support local people and artists, so there are often local art exhibitions there. Well-known artist Stella Vine grew up in the Alnwick area, and the Bailiffgate Museum Gallery is home to a collection of her works, ranging from portraits of famous people from Sylvia Plath to Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. The contrast between contemporary visual culture and ancient Northumberland history is one of the things that makes Bailiffgate Museum and Gallery so unique. There are also some classic engravings and prints depicting biblical scenes, caricatures of people and stories, that date from past centuries. As you wander around, look out for some of the old photographs, as well as posters and postcards that were used back before anyone had a phone or television. Each exhibition has it's own specific theme and history, making this the perfect way to learn all about the history of this Northumberland town. Plus, there is a great shop on site with lots of little items that can be bought with pocket money spends. If you're very lucky, you might even be able to adopt a mouse!
Younger children also have plenty to look forward to on a visit to Bailiffgate Museum, as there are regular 'Museum Tots' sessions put on during term time for pre-school kids. Through arts, crafts, and lots more fun activities, children can learn more about the people and history of Alnwick, through the lens of the museum.
Once you've taken in each display and the kids have had a great time running around and learning, there is plenty still to explore in the local Alnwick area. The magical Alnwick Garden is an ideal place to take the kids for some fresh air, and is located just next to the castle. Here, you can explore the creepy Poison Garden, explore the beautiful 12 acres of landscaped garden, and even play some crazy golf! Alternatively, head to the nearby town of Morpeth to explore Belsay Hall, a medieval castle with some fabulous Grecian design. For some ocean air, Alnwick is actually very close to the seaside village of Alnmouth, four miles away. Great for a walk or a bike ride, once you've finished exploring the town of Alnwick, a trip to see the sea could be just what you need.
For something to eat on your trip to Bailiffgate Museum and Gallery, there are plenty of places nearby to grab a bite. Within walking distance you'll find a selection of cafes, such as Bari Tea Brewery for cake and a cuppa, or Thai Bite for something different. Or, for a quintessential British pub lunch, check out The Black Swan Pub on Narrowgate. Alnwick Castle also has it's own selection of eateries which are worth visiting whether you decide to check out the castle too or not. The Treehouse Restaurant at The Alnwick Gardens is another unique experience that kids are bound to love, as it is quite literally a restaurant in a treehouse. For those who prefer to pack their own lunch for days out, you'll also find plenty of spots in the local area for relax with a picnic.
What to know before you go
- Bailiffgate Museum opening times are from 10am-4pm daily, except Mondays. Bailiffgate Museum Gallery opening times are the same.
- The building is fully accessible for wheelchair users and buggies. There are baby changing facilities and accessible toilets provided on site.
- If you're bringing along a furry friend, one dog per group is welcome as long as they are well behaved and on a lead. Assistance dogs are welcome.
- Museum Tots sessions should be booked in advance, and are £3 per child, with the accompanying adult going free.
- If you're travelling by car, there is free road parking for up to four hours. You can also check for NCP parking here.
- Alnwick is located just off the A1, and you can take the A1068 junction into town if coming from the east or south, or the B6341 or B6346.
- The museum is just a seven minute walk away from Alnwick bus station, where you can catch the bus to and from the surrounding areas.
- The nearest train station is Alnmouth, which is a 20 minute bus journey away, or a 12 minute taxi drive.
- There are plenty of bike routes in the area if you wish to travel by bike, and it's just a 25 minute bike ride to cycle between Alnwick and Alnmouth.