Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

York (Unitary Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
SE 60584 51438


SE 6051 SE, 1112-1/22/133

YORK, CASTLE PRECINCT, Castle Museum: The Female Prison

(Formerly Listed as:CASTLE PRECINCT The Female Prison (The Castle Museum))




Formerly known as: The Old Female Prison CASTLE PRECINCT. Prison and yard, now museum. 1780-83; altered and wings added 1802; podium and steps 1820-50; modified and yard roofed over for conversion to museum in 1938. Original building by Thomas Wilkinson and John Prince repeating facade design of the Court House opposite (now the Crown Courts, qv) by John Carr: C19 alterations by Peter Atkinson, senior.

MATERIALS: front of sandstone ashlar, inside of portico rendered; upper storeys at rear of red brick in stretcher bond over altered ground floor; inner side of left wing of painted brick, outer side cement rendered and incised to resemble ashlar; right wing of orange-red brick on outer side, inner side of red brick in English garden wall bond, with stone quoins; rear of both wings of ashlar with moulded ashlar cornice beneath brick parapet with stone coping. Yard wall originally of stone, built up in dark brick in English garden wall bond with flat stone coping. Roofs not visible.

EXTERIOR: front of 2 storeys on low podium; pedimented tetrastyle portico 'in antis' flanked by 3-bay ranges and distyle in antis end bays, portico and end bays in giant Ionic order and breaking forward slightly. Broad flight of steps up to podium; second flight of steps to raised podium before portico. Central door of 6 raised panels within portico, flanked by blind alcoves, beneath small-paned lunettes and arcaded hoodmould on moulded impost band. At each end of hood, a small 12-pane fixed light in moulded surround inserted. Additional doors in returns, one a double door of raised panels, one of 6 flush panels. All doors in architraves of painted stone with moulded cornice hoods. First floor band of guilloche moulding beneath three radial-glazed oculi in moulded surrounds. All ground floor windows are round headed and radial glazed, those in end bays stepped back beneath moulded round arch on moulded imposts. On first floor of flanking ranges, windows are of 6 panes, and in end bays, oculi with radial glazing. First floor band of guilloche moulding continues across facade, running behind attached columns in end bays. Moulded modillion eaves cornice, breaking forward over portico and end bays, surmounted by balustraded parapet. Parapet terminated by pedestal blocks carved with garlands. Rear of prison: 3 storeys, 7 bays, with 3-storey wings projecting at each end. Openings largely altered, but at left end of first floor 2-storey round-arched staircase window with radial glazing survives. Remaining windows are 4-pane sashes on first floor, squat 6-pane sashes on second floor, all with stone sills and plain lintels. Rear elevation to right wing, on river front, has single barred windows on ground and first floors, tripled on second floor, with plain lintels and sills. Left return: 3 storeys 8 windows. Windows are square and either barred or unequal 9-pane sashes. Eaves cornice returned at front end only. Right return: 3 storeys, 8 windows. Ground and first floors not visible: on second floor windows have cambered heads.

INTERIOR: largely altered. On first floor, staircases at each end of centre range rise to adjoining wings, with slim bulbous balusters, possibly reused from communion rail of former chapel.

HISTORICAL NOTE: the Prison was bought by York Corporation in 1934 and modified to house the Kirk Collection of "bygones", opening as the Castle Museum in 1938. Exercise yards at the rear were roofed at this time to form Kirkgate, constructed from re-erected fragments and facades of local buildings. (An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of York: RCHME: The Defences: HMSO: 1972-: 85-6).

Listing NGR: SE6058451438


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
An Inventory of the City of York II Defences, (1972), 85-6


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 12 May 2001
Reference: IOE01/04020/20
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Martin Roberts. Source Historic England Archive
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