If the April showers return, York Castle Museum has just the thing.

It’s York’s very first umbrella! And it’s going on show as part of a special weekend to celebrate the museum’s 80th birthday.

The museum’s records say that the umbrella was given to William Lockwood, who was Sheriff of York, in 1837.

It was donated to York Castle Museum in 1939 by J Triffitt from Heworth, and will form part of an exhibition to mark the 80th anniversary celebrations taking place on Saturday April 21, Sunday April 22 and Monday April 23.

Rob Wake, collections facilitator, said: “Like many objects at York Castle Museum, this is an ordinary, everyday item with an incredible story.”

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Fires the imagination

The museum’s accession register describes it as being the first umbrella to be brought to York.

“This statement sets it apart as something remarkable and fires the imagination – you can imagine William Lockwood walking through the centre of York in the April showers, sheltering from the rain while others look on, slightly bemused by the strange sight,” said Rob.

The Victorian umbrella has a bone handle shaped into a serpent’s head. The stick is made of wood and the frame of whalebone ribs tipped with brass. The cover is made of dark blue cotton.

It will be going on show with some of the earliest objects donated to the museum alongside some of the most unusual.

These include apple corers, a snuff box, witch stones, a wooden instrument for corking bottles and a naval cutlass said to have been used by Dr Kirk’s uncle to cut down a burglar.

Special events

Rob Wake with the precious brolly

Over the weekend and on Monday April 23 (the actual anniversary) there will be re-enactors on Kirkgate, the recreated Victorian Street, playing founder Dr Kirk and one of the first curators, Violet Rodgers.

A series of guided talks will take place and a model has been commissioned revealing the intricate details of the Prison building. There will also be birthday themed craft activities and chocolate making in the Kitchen Studio.

York Castle Museum first opened on April 23 (which is St George’s Day) 1938, with people queuing around the Eye of York to come and see its ground breaking displays and street scene. More than 32 million people have visited since.