Museums in Leicester

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United Kingdom
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New Walk Museum & Art Gallery
New Walk Museum & Art Gallery, Leicester's original museum, has wide ranging collections and displays spanning the natural and cultural world. A family friendly day out, the galleries include Ancient Egypt, Dinosaurs, Wild Space, The Den gallery for the under 5s, the Victorian art gallery, Arts & Crafts gallery and a modern and contemporary art gallery. The first floor galleries include World Arts, Picasso Ceramics: The Attenborough Collection and Leicester's internationally renowned collection of German Expressionism. The museum welcomes a vast array of temporary exhibitions, featuring works from the collections, touring exhibitions from national museums and a programme of contemporary art and craft displays.
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National Space Centre
The award-winning National Space Centre is an out of this world experience for the whole family! With six interactive galleries, the UK’s largest planetarium, world unique 3D SIM ride and iconic 42m high Rocket Tower, there really is something for everybody to enjoy. The rocket tower is pretty impressive for people of all ages, as it towers 42m into the air and its semi-transparent “pillow” design can be seen as you approach the Centre from any direction! It is home two rockets: Blue Streak and Thor Able, as well as a Gagarin Experience, Apollo Lunar Lander and real Moon Rock. Each year the National Space Centre hosts many special weekends which in the past have included celebrations of Star Wars, LEGO and Daleks. School holiday periods are always exciting, as the Centre adds plenty of workshops and talks into the mix, so advanced booking is advised. A visit to The National Space Centre wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Cargo Bay Shop to pick up a souvenir as a memento of your journey to outer space. The shop boasts a full range of fun and interactive space toys, books, games and telescopes.
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Belgrave Hall & Gardens
Belgrave Hall is a historic house, providing an oasis of peace and quiet in a busy city. The hall was built in the early 18th century in what was then a small village three miles from the town of Leicester. Now city traffic passes, almost unnoticed, just beyond the garden walls. Edmund Cradock, a hosiery merchant, built Belgrave Hall but died soon after its completion. The Hall has had several owners over the years, including John Ellis – a wealthy businessman who was responsible for bringing the railways to Leicester. Visitors can explore Belgrave Hall and the beautiful surrounding gardens on special event days. From April to September the gardens are open every Wednesday and the first full weekend of the month, with additional special events open to the public. Visit the website for more details on specific open days.
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The Guildhall
The Guildhall is a historic building and the oldest building still in use in the city. It was Leicester’s first police station and between 1876 and the 1900’s and saw many unsavoury characters pass through its doors. The Great Hall itself was built in about 1390 as a meeting place for the Guild of Corpus Christi (a small but powerful group of businessmen and gentry) and it’s also believed that Shakespeare performed here during Tudor times. Over the years it has had many uses, including housing one of the oldest public libraries and serving as the Town Hall. After restoration, the Guildhall was opened to the public as a museum in 1926. Today the Guildhall is best known as an excellent performance venue, attracting acts from across the country, and as a museum where visitors can step back in time and come face to face with Crankie Gemmie and Emma Smith, two of Leicester's notorious pickpockets who can be found lurking in the Victorian police cells. The museum is also home to the Medieval Leicester galleries. Through objects and activities, visitors can walk the streets of medieval Leicester and uncover a world both familiar and very different to our own!
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Green's Windmill
Green's Windmill in Sneinton was built by the father of notable scientist and mathematician George Green in 1807. Today the working Mill is a popular museum and science centre, which teaches new generations of children about the valuable work of George Green. Sadly, the mill was badly damaged by a fire in 1947 but was later restored by Nottingham City Council in the 1980s. The windmill began milling again in December 1986 and the giant sails can still be seen working to this day. George Green was a mathematical genius who developed new ways of doing mathematics, which has helped scientists to understand the world around us. Test your brainpower with the hands-on experiments in the Science Centre which explore electricity, magnetism and light, ideal for young children.
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William Booth Birthplace Museum
Discover the life and work of William Booth – Nottingham’s most famous preacher and social reformer and founder of The Salvation Army – at The William Booth Birthplace Museum. Travel back in time to William’s home as it would have appeared in 1829 and explore how William turned his vision into reality.
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Nottingham Contemporary
Nottingham Contemporary is one of the largest galleries of contemporary art in the UK. The gallery hosts regularly changing exhibitions of international art. Nottingham Contemporary is set in an iconic building, designed by the award-winning architects Caruso St John, in the heart of the city centre. Alongside the exhibitions, Nottingham Contemporary runs a full programme of events, including talks, film screenings, music and performances. Free drop-in family activities take place every weekend and throughout school holidays. The café, Ottar at Contemporary serves a seasonal, ripe, and varied menu, as well as award-winning chocolates and a selection of delicious cakes.
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Nottingham Natural History Museum
Since Wollaton Hall opened to the public in 1926, it has been home to the city’s natural history museum. On display are some of the best items from the three-quarters of a million specimens that make up its zoology, geology, and botany collections. Natural Connections Gallery explores the relationship between the natural world and ourselves. One of the central themes in the gallery is extinction, and a number of extinct and near-extinct species are on display. These include a passenger pigeon and a flightless parrot from New Zealand – the kakapo. Recent additions to the gallery include the extraordinary duck-billed platypus, a giant anteater and a rare maned sloth. Other popular exhibits include an orangutan skeleton, a hippo skull and a Humboldt penguin, together with many other mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, insects, and fossils. Mineral Gallery showcases some of the 5,000 specimens that make up the rock and mineral collection. It includes some the original Nottingham Naturalists’ Society collection and fine displays of classic minerals from the North of England (early 20th century) and Cornwall and Devon (19th century). You can also get up close to some giant ammonites – fossilised coiled shells of ancient squid-like sea creatures.
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Coventry Music Museum
The recently expanded Coventry Music Museum (CMM) is an award-winning permanent independent museum. Although 2-Tone music is well featured here, the museum never forgets all the many artists to come out of Coventry & Warwickshire. King, The Enemy, Hazel O'Connor, Delia Derbyshire, Panjabi MC are all showcased, as are The Coventry Carol, Frank Ifield, The Specials, The Selecter, The Beat and Madness. There is an interactive studio room, plus a mock record shop booth and a reproduction of a typical Ska fans bedroom.
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The Prebendal Manor
Described as a hidden gem and dating from the early 13th century the manor is the oldest property in Northamptonshire. Included in the visit are a large recreated medieval garden, fish ponds and dovecote. The Tithe Barn museum houses artefacts from the archaeological excavations and the history of Nassington. The Manor is an affordable and fun place for families. A children's trail, corn grinding, pottery making in the holidays, quill pen writing, dressing up the farm animals add to the enjoyment. The manor and gardens provide a unique experience for groups, with guided tours of the manor and gardens. Morning coffee or homemade teas are available. Lunch can be provided by prior arrangement.
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Coventry Transport Museum
Coventry Transport Museum houses the largest publicly owned collection of British vehicles on the planet and tells the story of a city which changed the world through transport. Visitors can expect captivating displays, interactive galleries, and highly immersive exhibitions. 14 fully accessible galleries are home to the fastest vehicle in the world, pioneering bicycles, transport champions and many of the most innovative, memorable and luxurious vehicles of the last 200 years. For those seeking more adventure, walkthrough The Blitz experience or enjoy a ride in one of three 4D simulator rides. With an award-winning coffee house, picnic areas throughout the museum and an exceptional gift shop, it makes a fantastic day out!
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Herbert Art Gallery & Museum
The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum is the perfect place to delve into Coventry’s history and immerse yourself in world-class art. Investigate the natural world, modern art, and the Old Masters. Wander through dazzling interactive displays and enjoy the latest exhibitions while admiring the building’s unique architecture. As well as the art gallery’s ever-changing displays, often created in partnership with national museums, the Herbert offers a wide range of talks, events and workshops for both adults and children. Permanent galleries range from the Visual Arts, to Social and Industrial History, Archaeology and Natural History, there really is something for every visitor.
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St. Mary's Guildhall
Death, intrigue, scandal and spilt custard...are not compulsory when you visit St. Mary's Guildhall, but can be discovered in more than 600 years worth of stories from the finest medieval guildhall in the country. Located in the city's historic Cathedral Quarter, St. Mary's Guildhall miraculously survived the Second World War bombing raids and stands as a monument to the power and wealth of medieval Coventry. With magnificent interiors, collections of armour, historic furniture, artworks and internationally important tapestries, the Guildhall offers a window into Coventry's glorious past. A prison to Mary, Queen of Scots, a theatre for Shakespeare and an inspiration to George Eliot, St. Mary's Guildhall is a fascinating free experience for all ages, at the historic heart of the city of Coventry.
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Coventry Watch Museum
Over the past few centuries, Coventry has been home to several industries of national significance. Watchmaking was first recorded in the city in the 1680s, but it was not until the 18th century that Coventry emerged as one of the main centres of the watchmaking industry in England. By the first half of the 19th century, Coventry had even reached a position of national dominance. Proudly illustrating Coventry's influence within the British watchmaking industry, the Coventry Watch Museum houses a display of clocks, watches, tools, artefacts and family history records and much more. One of the cottages is reputedly haunted and several interesting vigils have been held there!
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Midlands Air Museum
The Midlands Air Museum is one of the country's leading self-funded independent aviation museums. Exhibits at the Midland Air Museum range from the magnificent Avro Vulcan bomber through more than 30 other historic aircraft, both civil and military, aero engines and other artefacts, to a wide range of memorabilia. With photographs and collectors’ items, along with an on-site shop and tearoom, it’s the ideal venue for plane spotters of any age.
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Bilsthorpe Heritage Museum
In the early 1900s, Bilsthorpe village's population was approximately 200 and slowly declining. Then coal mining arrived in Bilsthorpe in the 1920s and considerably changed the landscape and social development of the village. When the mine closed in 1997 social changes had to be made due to unemployment and the loss of the common bond of the mine, which united them. Bilsthorpe Heritage Society began after the mine closed and was formed by a handful of residents who had the foresight to collect artefacts and memorabilia from the local mine and surrounding area before it was lost in time. This was so the history of mining not just in Bilsthorpe but across the industry could be preserved for future generations.
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Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery
Located in one of the city's most historic buildings, Peterborough Museum has a wealth of stories to fascinate and enthral all the family. There are some amazing objects and interactive displays for all ages. The collections comprise over 200,000 items of great national and international importance. " Explore the historic building and its story: from private house to hospital and museum. Go inside the original Victorian Operating Theatre to learn about the grisly history of surgery. " Visit an underwater world! See the internationally important collection of fossils of Jurassic sea-monsters and find out more about the creatures that swam in our prehistoric seas over 150 million years ago. " Discover the story of the world's first prisoner of war camp, built 200 years ago during the Napoleonic Wars. See inside one of the cells and view the incredibly intricate items made by the French prisoners. " Learn about the story of Peterborough, from prehistory to the present. Come face-to-face with Britain's oldest murder victim, see Roman and Saxon treasures, look inside a Victorian railway cottage and clock in to find out what Peterborough companies have made over the last century.
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Flag Fen Archaeological Park
Visit Flag Fen Archaeology Park to explore how the prehistoric people of the fen lived over 3000 years ago. Wander through a Bronze Age village, sit within the reconstructed roundhouses, and stand where our ancestors once stood by the ritual causeway. Experience life in our prehistoric past and visit the only place in the UK where original Bronze Age remains can be seen in situ, the incredibly preserved timbers of monumental engineering achievement. Excavations on the site revealed details of a wooden platform and post alignment that stretch for nearly a kilometre across the fen. These were built up between 1350 and 950BC and are of great national and international significance. Due to the waterlogged nature of the fens, this unique monument has been remarkably preserved. It is believed that the post alignment consists of 60,000 vertical timber and 250,000 horizontal pieces of wood, spanning the wet and marshy fen to meet a droveway on dry ground at each end. All the pieces of wood had been worked and shaped with tools.
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Aston Hall
At Aston Hall follow in the footsteps of royalty and visit one of the last great Jacobean houses to be built. Built between 1618 and 1635 for Sir Thomas Holte and home to James Watt Junior from 1817-1848, Aston Hall is steeped in history. Now a grade I listed building, the hall is restored to its former Jacobean splendor and is hugely popular with visitors of all ages. Walk through the stunning interiors and see the home that received royalty, was besieged during the English Civil War and inspired an author.
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Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
The museum holds centuries of European history and culture and is home to art collections of international importance, there is also a celebration of local and industrial history in the ever-changing exhibitions.
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Black Country Living Museum
Award-winning corner of the West Midlands is now one of the finest and largest open-air museums in the United Kingdom. After very humble beginnings, a bright idea and 40 years of inspiration, this is twenty six acres worth exploring. Amazing as it may seem, we have created a ‘place’ – a real and lively place, where once there was nothing and nobody. With a village and charismatic residents to chat with. Hear the stories of the people who lived and worked in the Black Country from our friendly Historic Characters. They'll explain what it was really like to be alive at the height of the Industrial Revolution. Visit a fairground - fancy a bit of old-fashioned fun? Why not visit our fairground with original rides dating back to 1910? Have a go on the Brooklyn Cakewalk, test your skills on the 'hook a duck' or hit the right spot with a throw on the the coconut shy. Have a ride on a vintage bus. Museum maintains a selection of vintage vehicles for you to ride throughout the year. Why not hop on the longest trolleybus route in the country? Play some old school street games. Head on down to the cobbled street and try your hand at some classic street games including the 'hoop and stick' and the 'cup and ball' . And also Explore over 40 period shops, houses and industrial areas. Since 1978 we've been recreating buildings from around the Black Country, sometimes moving them here brick-by-brick. Grab and a map and get exploring!
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Peckover House and Gardens
Peckover House lies at the heart of the North Brink in Wisbech, one of Britain's most perfect streetscapes. From the 1790s it was home to the Peckovers, a fascinating dynasty of Quaker bankers, collectors and philanthropists who created the spacious Victorian garden that lies behind the house. The majority of the indigenous Peckover collection was sold during a two day sale after the death of Alexandrina Peckover in 1948, but the house is still full of interesting artefacts, objects and stories.
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Royal Air Force Museum (RAF)
The Museum has a fabulous array of annual events and there is something for people of all ages. Aircraft and artefacts in the Museum collection are used to theme events that are educational and engaging, but above all are great fun! For families, there are lots of holiday activities for you to get hands-on and work together. For enthusiasts, the Conservation Centre Open Week is an absolute ‘must-see’ and the Open Cockpit Weekends allow people access to some of the aircraft. Popular annual favourites include the RAF Cosford Air Show and the Large Model Air Show. These events are held in June and July respectively on the airfield and admission charges apply.
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University of Cambridge Museums
The University of Cambridge has 8 museums and the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, which when combined, has the country's highest concentration of internationally important collections outside of London.
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Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology
The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge displays world-class collections of art and artefacts from all over the world. Objects ranging from stone tools and pots to sculptures and paintings represent cultures and histories over millennia, and great recent and contemporary works reflect the diversity of peoples worldwide. MAA’s collections span nearly two million years of human history, on all six inhabited continents, and together with rich documentary and photographic collections, they reveal much about not only archaeology and anthropology, but also about world art and world history.
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Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences
The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences is the oldest of the University of Cambridge museums, having been established in 1728 as the Woodwardian Museum. Since then the collection has grown from about 10,000 fossils, minerals and rocks, to at least 2 million. A walk through the museum will take you on a 4.5 billion year journey through time, from the meteoritic building blocks of planets, to the thousands of fossils of animals and plants that illustrate the evolution of life in the oceans, on land and in the air. Also a major teaching and research resource in the Department of Earth Sciences, the Sedgwick Museum collections are a national treasure.
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Fitzwilliam Museum
With over half a million incredible artworks in its collection, the Fitzwilliam Museum is one of the most impressive regional museums in Europe, presenting world history and art from as far back as 2500 BC to the present day.
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Blenheim Palace
Home to the 12th Duke of Marlborough and his family and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site boasting a long and diverse history. A masterpiece of Baroque architecture landscaped Parkland and stunning Formal Gardens, Blenheim Palace provides an awe-inspiring experience for visitors. Explore over 2000 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown Parkland and 90 acres of award-winning Formal Gardens. Ride the miniature train to The Pleasure Gardens, a dedicated family area that offers a giant hedge maze, butterfly house and adventure playground. A year-round calendar of tours, exhibitions, experiences and events reveal the sheer splendour of Britain’s Greatest Palace.
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Oxford University Museum of Natural History
A Museum displaying the University's natural history specimens including some remarkable Paleontological Collections. The museum is also the home to the last seen Dodo bird in existence. Today, all that remains from rot are its beak and its feet. The Museum was also the sight of the 1860s evolution debate between Thomas Henry Huxley and Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, which famously critiqued the publication of Charles Darwin's 'On the Origin of Species'.
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Oxford Castle & Prison
Come and explore the 1,000-year history of Oxford Castle and Prison. Step back in time with our costumed guided tours and see fascinating stories come to life. Hear the great tales of Empress Matilda or the fate of Mary Blandy, one of the prisons’ most famous criminals. Step inside our padded jail cell and meet the notorious ‘Black Panther’, a vicious prisoner held here in the 1970s. Find gorgeous views atop of St. George’s Tower and then descend into the atmospheric crypt of St Georges Chapel. Here you can touch the stones were Oxford University was rumoured to begin and stand in the birthplace of King Arthur. Explore the austere confines of the prisons’ D-Wing and debtors tower, here you can wander the cells and learn about our youngest inmates. After your guided tour, you can climb the mound, the remains of a motte and bailey castle. Explore the attraction at your own leisure and dress up like a prisoner in our exhibition space. Sit down with a nice cup of coffee in our café, spread out your map and plan where to go next in Oxford. In the summer, we have Knight School, a medieval-inspired workshop which trains children into becoming little warriors. Our Shakespeare Festival is an Oxford summer staple whilst Ghost Fest is sure to give you a scare over Halloween.
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Shrewsbury Prison
The current prison buildings are Victorian, built in 1868 but there has been a prison on that site since 1793. The prison was decommissioned by the Ministry of Justice in 2013 and is now open to the public as a tourist attraction offering a variety of tours including guided and self-guided The guided tours are led by ex-prison officers who showcase just what life was like, day and night, for prisoners, officers and visitors. During the two hours they shine a light on what really happened, from the Victorians to the 21st century, behind the high prison walls. Tours take in two wings (one is particularly haunted) the exercise yards, the segregation cells, healthcare and the execution room including the condemned man’s cell and the executioner's room.
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Shrewsbury Castle
The castle stands at the top of a hill and was built as a defensive fortification for Shrewsbury, which was otherwise protected by the River Severn. Founded by Roger de Montgomery in 1074, the castle has undergone many transformations, the last one being by Thomas Telford who 'modernised' the building in the 18th century. Climb the walls of the castle for amazing views and some people watching from high above the town. The grounds are free to visit and perfect for picnics too. The Castle houses the spectacular collections of the Shropshire Regimental Museum Trust including pictures, uniforms, medals, weapons and other equipment from the 18th Century to the present day. One of the prize exhibits is the baton of the German Admiral Doenitz, captured by soldiers of the King's Shropshire Light Infantry at the very end of World War II. Doenitz had been nominated as Hitler's successor. There are also stories about the British burning down the White House in 1814. The displays include a brief history of the castle through the centuries.
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Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery
Re-opened at the old Music Hall in April 2014, Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery tells the stories that make Shropshire unique through its’ amazing galleries: Roman Gallery, Shropshire Gallery, Medieval, Tudor and Stuart Galleries and the Special Exhibition Gallery. Come and explore millions of years of history through over one thousand remarkable objects in the extraordinary set of building that house Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery. From key Shropshire finds like the Roman tombstones and headstones and the Shropshire Mammoth to a fine geology and Tudor collection, Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery intimately depicts local history using all senses. Since opening, Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery has established itself as the perfect family museum and holds events and activities throughout the week that are ideal for children. Children and their families can take part in great activities like Mini-Mammoths to following the trail of Maximo Mouse through the museum – there’s always something in this family Museum for children to have fun and learn.
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Manchester Art Gallery
One of the country's finest art collections in spectacular Victorian and contemporary surroundings. The gallery's £35 million transformations has enabled the collection to be presented to visitors in imaginative new ways. Highlights include outstanding pre-Raphaelite paintings, craft and design and early 20thC British art. Exciting exhibitions programme, there is a wide range of events, from talks and tours to hands-on activities for both children and adults. Superb visitor facilities include 2 cafes, large shop and full disabled access. For those with younger children, try one of our explorer tool belts for family groups with children aged three to six. There are plenty of tools to help you explore the gallery including binoculars, magnifying glasses, spot cards and much more.
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Dunham Massey Hall
A house filled with treasures and stories, an ancient deer park and a garden for all seasons. Dunham's Lost Years: a Victorian Tale of Love and Abandonment. See the House transformed to revisit its Victorian past. Meet the 7th Earl and his new wife, skilled circus performer Catharine Cox. See their story of love, status and scandal played out throughout the House and discover how they altered the course of Dunham's history forever. The plantsman's garden, one of the finest in the North West, is a tranquil oasis with something to delight in all seasons. The herd of fallow deer wander amongst the tree-lined avenues in the ancient Deer Park. The Park is also home to the fully restored 400-year-old working sawmill powered by overshot water.
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Science and Industry Museum
The Science and Industry Museum in Manchester is a place full of amazing objects and world-changing ideas. Visit the world’s oldest surviving passenger railway station and the world’s first railway warehouse, built in 1830. Find out how our revolutionary railroad changed Manchester and the world forever. Be inspired by the wonder of science, enjoy live demonstrations of historic working machinery, take part in fun science shows and lots more.
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National Football Museum
Whether you’re a die-hard football fan, planning a visit with your family or on a weekend break to the great city of Manchester, enjoy a visit to the world's biggest and best football museum. Delve into the social history and culture of the much-loved sport, with fascinating objects and exhibitions showing how football became the game of our lives. Test your skills at everything from penalty kicks and clever tricks to shot-stopping and commentating, and get your hands on some of our top silverware! The museum has a range of tours and trails available every day, with a host of family-friendly activities running across weekends and throughout the school holidays.