10 things to see
As well as our magnificent marine fossils, for which we are famous, Whitby Museum has an eclectic mix of artefacts not to miss. Here are a few examples of things to look out for during your visit. You might also like to take a look at our objects of the week and to read more about our collections.
Hand of Glory
‘The Hand of Glory’ is a mummified severed hand, discovered in the twentieth century hidden in the wall of a cottage in Castleton and given to Whitby Museum in 1935.
Have you ever heard of a ‘Tempest Prognosticator’? We can show you a 1951 model, comprising twelve glass bottles, each of which used to contain a live leech, set around a circular stand under a bell which was surrounded by twelve hammers. The original contraption looked like an Indian temple, in honour of the supposed design of the Crystal Palace, and was used to predict storms at sea – Whitby is well known for them!
In the ‘Leach Collection’, Mr Graham Leach, a specialist in bottling ships, shows off his skills in getting a quart into a pint pot, his methodology being a ‘trade secret’.
Ripley Cabinet of Curiosities
Perhaps our most eccentric novelty is the fine mahogany ‘Ripley Cabinet of Curiosities’, with numerous drawers brimming with oddities, such as seeds and nuts, and a leaflet from the 1940s which had been dropped on the moors to say the Germans were winning the battle of the Atlantic.
Is it a dalek? No it’s a ZEPLIN III Dark Matter Detector!
A North York Moors curiosity, the witch post was believed to protect the inhabitants from witches!
Bess the Wooden Doll
You might never notice this strange wooden torso in our toys and dolls cabinet but Bess is a doll with a story to tell.
The Kirkdale Cave Bones
Some of the first items to be acquired by Whitby Museum back in the 1820s, the Kirkdale Cave bones fuelled the debate between evolution and religion.
The Truant’s Clog
Of all the measures taken to punish those who did not want to attend school perhaps our ‘truants clog’ is the most unusual. Although it was designed to humiliate rather than injure, the wooden clog is heavy enough to slow down and bruise any leg silly enough to try to run.
Seaside souvenirs aren’t just a recent phenomenon; these carved ammonites are examples of the enterprising nature of Victorian fossil hunters cashing in on the growing number of tourists flocking to Whitby.