Step Inside A Victorian Sweet Shop at York Castle Museum

by | Oct 17, 2019

York Castle Museum, York

If you grew up in the 1970s, you probably got a Terry’s Chocolate Orange in your Christmas stocking. When Terry’s of York, one of Britain’s oldest confectionary companies, closed its factory doors in 2005, York Castle Museum became the lucky benefactor of more than 400 objects celebrating the company’s unique history.

Kirkgate Victorian Street at York Castle Museum
Kirkgate Victorian Street at York Castle Museum

I loved visiting York Castle Museum. Its permanent collection offers visitors an intriguing look at every day life at key times in Britain’s history.

Victorian life is one of the main themes at the museum and it’s brilliantly done. There’s also a strong emphasis on food and farming.

If you’re interested in food history, you will love the historic hearths and kitchens exhibition; the Castle Kitchen where regular cookery demonstrations take place; and the Terry’s Sweet Shop with its chocolate memorabilia.

Once you’ve had your fill, you can transport yourself to the Swinging Sixties or to the horror of 1914 when daily life in Britain changed beyond all recognition.


The Foodie Travel Guide

Step Into Victorian Britain at York Castle Museum

The main attraction of the museum is Kirkgate, a recreated Victorian cobbled street. You can step inside a schoolroom, police cell, Cocoa House, candle-maker’s, grocer’s shops and of course, a Terry’s sweet shop.  Costumed guides tell you about the shops and businesses on the street that all operated between 1870 and 1901.

Eye Up the Sweets in Terry’s Sweet Shop

The Terry’s Sweet Shop displays some of the museum’s chocolate memorabilia. The shop sold cakes and comfits, sugar sweets, candied peel, marmalade and mushroom ketchup. Browse through their trade catalogue and see that in the 1850s, the sweets had colourful names to commemorate the heroes, villains and battles such as Wellington sticks (red, blue and yellow), Nelson balls (red or yellow) and Bonapartes’s ribs (striped yellow or pink).

See How the Victorians Started Making Ice-Cream

The display of Victorian ice-cream making equipment includes fancy moulds in the shape of vegetables or fruit. Although ice-cream had been around since the seventeenth century, it increased in popularity in Victorian times when ice chests were developed. The most fashionable way to serve it was at well-to-do dinner parties. It was made with a base of water, cream or custard, then flavoured with sugar and fruit pulp. “Some of the prettiest dishes it is possible to send to the table,” Mrs Agnes Bertha Marshall, The Book of Ices 1885

Learn About Yorkshire Turf Cakes

Yorkshire turf cakes were once an alternative to bread. Looking at the museum’s Yorkshire farmhouse range, you’ll discover they were baked over a ‘jetling’, a special lidded pan and cooked over a turf fire. They were buttered and served with thick rashers of ham and eggs. By the end of the nineteenth century, they became sweeter and contained sugar, currants and sultanas. The famous Fat Rascal scones served at Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms are said to have been inspired by the turf cake.

See Shackleton’s Cocoa Tin

One of the displays in the museum is a Rowntree’s cocoa tin that has been on an epic journey. It was taken to the Antarctic by explorer Ernest Shackleton in 1909. The York-made cocoa was one of the unused goods brought back by Shackleton after his failed attempt to reach the South Pole in 1908-9.

  • Buy a York Pass to include entry to the York Castle Museum and other attractions in the city
  • Visit Clifford’s Tower opposite the museum which is managed by the Landmark Trust

Dog Policy Mr Hendricks says, “They tell me that Guide Dogs are welcome. Did you know that Ernest Shackleton took 69 dogs on his expedition and that one of them was called Chips?”  

How to Find York Castle Museum

York Castle Museum, Eye of York, York YO1 9RY

York Castle Museum


The Foodie Travel Guide

The Foodie Travel Guide

Sally is the founder and editor of The Foodie Travel Guide. She travels around the UK and beyond in search of the best foodie days out, tasting experiences and delicious places to stay. She loves a glass of English sparkling wine, afternoon tea with friends and escaping London for gastronomic adventures. 

Save Money With The York Pass

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  • Includes entrance to York’Castle Museum
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