- Visit Abbey House Museum for a fantastic immersive experience to do with Leeds' Victorian past, right opposite Kirkstall Abbey, the best-preserved Cistercian Monastery in Britain.
- Check out the events and activities that run regularly like crafts, festive-themed Santa's Grotto and more.
- Don't miss out on the permanent and changing exhibitions displaying everything from toys, dressing up and more.
Abbey House Museum offers a great family day out, and conveniently located to other wonderful West Yorkshire attractions like Kirkstall Abbey. The Abbey House Museum, however, is great fun, inviting visitors and families to explore Victorian Leeds through recreated, authentically accurate, streets, shops, objects and stories that date back to the Victorian era.
Step back in time, have a blast and wander through the enchanting streets of Victorian Leeds, full of fascinating shops and houses, your little ones will love immersing themselves into the experience of life as a Victorian - their imaginations will run wild! This fun museum is interactive and immersive; perfect for all the family. Indeed, Abbey House Museum is a wonderful day out that fascinate children and parents of all ages.
There are many family sessions on for you to enjoy where you kids can get interactive, have fun and create some unforgettable memories, so pop over to a session or two to see what all the fuss is about. Step back in time to what Leeds was like 100 years ago on a Victorian street complete with houses, shops and more. The kids are often given an adventure trail to focus on, to keep them occupied. It's lovely as you get to see your kids interweaving through the shops, plus getting dressed up in the photographic studio, which is always great fun, they can take part in some of the craft activities that are available to do, as well. So, one thing is for sure; you won't be short of a great time!
Check out the first floor where there are both permanent and annually changing exhibitions, like the Sounds of Our City that featured in the museum previously, which tells the story of how the different musical styles interact with the different places of Leeds. Your little ones will love discovering more about the instruments and equipment that has been made in Leeds and this multi-sensory experience will show them what different venues associated with music in the city have been like over the past 200 years. Get hands-on with the Kirkstall Museum exhibits as your little ones get to play with and learn about so much, from Victorian toys, dolls houses, to tea sets and puzzles.
On the ground floor, you can visit the Stephen Harding Gate, which is the 19th century equivalent of a modern high street, and here you can get a good dose of some old fashioned retail therapy! In the back streets, there are plenty of Houses to visit in Yorkshire in this Victorian setting, where you can see the home of the window washerwoman or pop into Sunday School. On the first floor, see the permanent Childhood and Community Galleries exhibition along with the changing programme of exhibitions that feature there. The permanent Childhood Galleries exhibition in the museum upstairs is especially magnificent for little kids, this was all nursery rhyme themed, which is a cute touch, creating a delightful atmosphere for your little ones, and for parents, it really takes you back to being little again. The exhibitions and pieces date back to the 19th century, featuring some fun toys that the kids love comparing to their current toys, plus working old penny machines and interactive displays.
Another special exhibition that has featured at Abbey House Museum includes the Fairytales & Fantasy exhibition, showcasing history, objects, artefacts and stories about the familiar fairytales we know (such as snow white, Aladdin, Peter Pan, Cinderella and more). The kids adore these stories and to see them come to life in Abbey House Museum is a treat! Your children will love learning all about the history of folklore and fairytale stories. They'll get to see some props and pieces from fairytales and pantomimes, too.
This is an interesting place to go with the kids as they learn so much through this theatrical Victorian museum experience, getting up close and personal with life in Victorian Leeds in the year 1880. Even just strolling through the carefully recreated streets and houses is a wonderful experience for the little ones, and they sometimes even find shopping in the 1850s and dressing up in Victorian clothes to be a blast of a time.
Don't miss out on Abbey House Museum events, where you can visit Santa in his Victorian Grotto for some festive events. On event days, marvel at costumed characters and discover how the Victorians lived. Round off your day with a lovely walk in the Abbey gardens or Kirkstall Abbey across the road. Conveniently, Abbey House Museum is located directly across the road from the historical site of Kirkstall Abbey, which is the best-preserved Cistercian monastery in Britain, set in wonderful parkland along the banks of the River Aire and a wonderful day out.
When you're done, check out the Abbey House Museum Café, and wander across the across the road to revisit Kirkstall Abbey. Plus, the car park also has a playground next door if your kids want to let off more steam, but be sure to wrap up warm for the Abbey and playground if visiting during winter as it's cold. If you visit Kirkstall Abbey when there are no events on, it's still free to just wander around this impressive site!
For more West Yorkshire history and fun days out, check out Leeds City Museum, offering a great insight into the history of Leeds, along with fantastic family-friendly events, and activities to really get the kids engaged.
What to know before you go
- Abbey House Museum opening times are Wednesday – Sunday: 10am – 12pm & 1 – 4pm, Saturday: 12 – 4pm.
- There is an on-site café, called The Gatehouse Café, which a wonderful place to relax. Enjoy a cup of tea, a delicious sandwich and some cake in a unique setting of the the grand Cistercian arches and gothic style windows, perfect for a picture, this beautiful setting is unlike any other Leeds café. Outdoor seating in the courtyard and the surrounding gardens provide stunning views across to the site. This is also perfect for a summer picnic with family and friends after trekking through and exploring Abbey House Museum.
- There are toilets, accessible toilets in the main entrance foyer and shop in the museum, and baby changing facilities in the accessible toilets, main entrance foyer and shop.
- Access: the entrance to the museum is on a short but fairly steep hill. A wheelchair is available from the shop and museum entrance to borrow on your visit. Most of the galleries, the Victorian streets and special exhibition space are accessible. It is important to note; there are cobbled streets and narrow spaces in the Victorian streets. Guide and assistance dogs are welcome, with dog bowls available at the front entrance.
- Under 5s have free entry.
- Abbey House Museum is located in Kirkstall, Leeds.
- If travelling via public transport, The closest train stations are Kirkstall Forge and Headingley, both one mile away. For bus routes, Bus numbers 33, 34 and 757 from Leeds stop outside Kirkstall Abbey.
- If travelling via car, from Leeds Abbey House is about 14 minutes away drive. From Leeds centre, take the A58(M) and A65 to Abbey Walk for about 4.4 miles in Kirkstall, then turn right onto Abbey Walk.
- A large free car park, including accessible parking, is found next to Abbey House Museum on Abbey Walk. There is an additional accessible parking space immediately outside the museum entrance.