Two royal museums to launch in York’s gateways for Easter 2014

Now we like Richard III and we like Henry VIII - but which is better? Only one way to find out… Fight!
24 Feb 2014 @ 9.52 am
| History
Now we like Richard III and we like Henry VII - but which is better? Only one way to find out… Fight!
Now we like Richard III and we like Henry VII – but which is better? Only one way to find out… Fight!

A royal welcome will greet visitors to York as two of the city’s gateway museums are rededicated to medieval kings this Easter.

Since Mike Bennett founded it 20 years ago, the Richard III Museum in Monk Bar has proved a popular guide to this a much-maligned monarch.

Now it has been taken over by the Jorvik Group of attractions. It plans to create a new museum about York’s favourite king, The Richard III Experience.

At the same time the Jorvik Group is to overhaul its existing Micklegate Bar Museum to create The Henry VII Experience.

“When Michael Bennett, founder of the Richard III Museum, announced his impending retirement and approached us about taking over the reins of the museum, we were very excited,” said Sarah Maltby, the group’s director of attractions.

“Richard III has been very much in the news in recent years, and there’s a great opportunity to tell the story of Richard and his connections with the city of York, from his ascension to the bloody battles of Towton and then Bosworth.”

Now closed, the Monk Bar museum will re-open as the Richard III Experience at the start of the Easter school holidays, which in York begin on Saturday, April 5.

Micklegate Bar Museum will close briefly at the end of March whilst new exhibitions are installed, also re-opening in time for Easter.

“It then seemed logical to link Monk Bar with Micklegate Bar, so that with a short walk along the city walls, visitors can continue the story, looking at the subsequent reign of Henry VII, to create a visitor experience that really cements York’s role in the time of the Plantagenets and Tudors,” Sarah added.

Medieval marvels

BBC drama The White Queen sparked more interest in the Middle Ages. Photograph: BBC
BBC drama The White Queen sparked more interest in the Middle Ages. Photograph: BBC

The Jorvik Group, owned by the York Archaeological Trust, also runs the Jorvik Viking Centre and DIG.

Sarah believes the two royal museums, along with another of the group’s attractions, Barley Hall, “will illustrate the story of medieval York fantastically well, giving visitors an idea of what it would have been like to live in the city through the War of the Roses, living first under the white rose of Richard, then the red rose of Henry Tudor.

“With the popularity of the BBC series The White Queen last summer, and the ongoing interest in Richard III, we’re looking forward to welcoming our first visitors to step inside this fascinating period in history.”

Richard III Museum founder Mike Bennett said: “I have always tried to present the case for and against the king in an accessible and entertaining way and have enjoyed meeting and welcoming visitors over the last 20 years.

“I am delighted that the Jorvik Group will be taking over the museum and that it will continue to inform and entertain residents and tourists about the Richard III story.”

All of the Richard III Museum’s employees have been employed by the Jorvik Group, with no job losses.

Admission to the new attractions will be £3.50, with a joint ticket covering Monk Bar and Micklegate Bar priced at £5. A “Medieval Pass” ticket also incorporating Barley Hall will be available for £8.