During the week I noticed that the Tolhouse Museum was having a "Pop in for a £1" day, so we, plus our friends decided to go along. I don't ever remember going there before and the girls certainly haven't so we thought it would be a good chance to see what it was like.
The Tolhouse Gaol is one of Britain's oldest jails and exhibits the story of crime and punishment in Great Yarmouth from 800 years ago. It is a striking building with its stone walls, arched windows and heavy timber, it certainly stands out surrounded by modern day architecture.
We arrived at 1.00pm and it was very quiet, Entering the museum from the main entrance on Tolhouse Road and through the ancient doors into the reception area and gift shop.
This level also housed the Court Room, with its raised platform, showing how the Judge would have overlooked the gallery. Upon this platform there were a few activities for children to do - colouring sheet, a wooden pirate ship (?) and brass rubbing.
Also on this floor were information boards and an old wooden cart. Plus several display cabinets.
We went through to the stair well and took two short flights of stairs down to the dungeons (these were the real attraction as I was hoping that I might be able to lock Chris and the Girls away for the day!) As we reached the lower floor we went through iron bars into a stone room. It was small but with a high ceiling, a long wooden table along one wall with imitation food and drink, opposite this was four heavy wooden doors. Three closed and one of which was hooked open. On the three closed doors you could peek through the small cut out window and see the rooms set up as a cell, two of these had dummies inside. The last door, which is open, you can step inside and get a feel for the size and atmosphere. The girls were quite reluctant to do this but the Dads had fun messing about!
Also in this room there was a wicker basket of ragged clothing for children to dress up as prisoners. As you can see they got quite into the role!
We left here and moved up one flight of stairs. This room was again full of information boards and also a display cabinet or prisoner artefacts. Plus more dressing up which our girls didn't want to wear. There was a snakes and ladders type game using Prisoners as the players pieces. Everyone was drawn to the photofit activity, where the Dads spent a few minutes trying to sort them out.
There was also a large wooden table with ink wells and Feather Quills, plus some aged paper with old script on. This is where the authority would have sat to take care of their correspondence.
Chris managed to entertain himself by finding the old staircase through to the Courtroom behind a heavy wooden door! This would have taken the prisoners up through a trap door when their case was being heard.
Up through to the final level there was information about modern prime and punishment, with an area set up as a modern day cell.
We were actually finished within half an hour and there wasn't really enough to occupy the girls any longer. A lot of information on the boards but the girls lost interest pretty quickly in reading reams of info.
You can get entry to this museum as part of the Norfolk Museums pass, alternatively opening times and prices can be found here. The museum does have disable access but this must be via the Library so you need to contact the museum prior to your visit to make arrangements.
A Family ticket does come in at less that £13 but quite honestly I would take a look out on their up coming events for discount days or even FREE events,it was okay but I wouldn't rush back.
It got us out for a bit and we enjoyed the dungeons, that was about all!