Navigation Content Activities in the Peak District

The Old House Museum

The Old House Museum in Bakewell is a step back in time exploring five hundred years of history. The Tudor and Victorian times are highlighted, with exhibits to explore inside 10 beamed rooms, with wonderful wattle and daub partitions and fantastic original open fireplaces; the exhibits are situated in a very atmospheric display. Take time out of your day, and discover a rare Tudor toilet and a Victorian Privy, and learn about the mysterious Night Soil Man if you dare!
 Experience life as it was in a Victorian mill workers dwelling, with the Victorian kitchen scene complete with memorabilia intact and marvel at the displays of lace, textiles, samplers, embroideries and elegant costumes in a wonderful tableau setting. Learn about Bakewell's industrial history and its links with the Arkwright family in the new gallery. There's even a stunning sculptural interpretation of Arkwright Lumford millwheel to discover.

There are historical dolls which made an appearance on BBC2's Restoration Roadshow and a Tudor dressing up box. Have fun and let the children play with the delightful dolls house. It wasn't voted Derbyshire Museum of the year for nothing, with a collection of displays which has been built up from the generosity of local people and contacts. The house itself is of great interest to anyone keen on vernacular architecture. See the fascinating roofs and windows of the building from the raised terrace, or relax in the courtyard and watched the children play with games, skipping ropes and hula hoops provided.

For group visits, guided tours of the museum and its collection are readily available and there are also historic walks around Bakewell, which include a tour of the museum too. The museum has a very popular behind-the-scenes tour with the textile teen tailoring the talks to suit different groups interests.


With blue badge holders being welcome to park on the Museum forecourt, there is also a stair lift to help viewing upstairs. There are uneven floors on varying levels so be warned, they may prove difficult to less able visitors but there are wheelchair ramps available on the ground floor and plenty to see on the ground floors. There is ample public car parking available in Bakewell town centre and the museum advises to get a two hour parking ticket, to give you plenty of time to relax and enjoy the Museum.

The History of Bakewell Old House Museum dates back to the time of Henry 8th when there were four southerly rooms. It was built originally as a tax collectors house by Ralph Gell of Hopton, near Wirksworth, who needed a house for his steward, Christopher Plant. He had just taken over the collection of tithes, which were due to the church, the 10th of all produce such as oats and wool which was stored in nearby barns before being sold. In the time of Elizabeth I, the house was made much larger and used as a gentleman's residents, with the luxury of the internal toilet which is still intact today. The central room has a big fireplace where the cooking was done.

In 1777 Richard Arkwright, the founder of the factory system, built his third cotton mill at Bakewell and then divided the old house Museum into five cottages for workers at the mill. Another was then added on, but in 1950 the cottages were condemned as unfit the human habitation and would have been demolished, but was saved by Bakewell and District Historical Society, which formed specifically to protect the old house and to use it as a museum.
The museum is a delightful little place to gain respite from the shopping spree you no doubt will have had in Bakewell town centre, and it not only a place of education for the children in the school holidays, but also a chance for them to learn through play. Why not give it a go on a rainy day and learn something new whilst having fun at the same time?


The Old House Museum, Cunningham Place, Off North Church Street, Bakewell.  DE45 1DD.

The museum is located on Cunningham Place, behind Bakewell Church.?Access is from North Church Street or Church Lane.  The museum is a short 10 minute walk from Bakewell Town Centre.

Buses No2, 177 and 178 leave Bath Gardens stopping on South Church Street.  It is a short 3 minute walk to the museum along Church Lane.