Exploring the Collection: Richard Ryley

This week’s blog was written by our volunteer Joe during lockdown…

Richard Ryley worked as a weaver based in Barnoldswick. The following three ‘Treasures in Store’ are some objects which focused on Richard’s life as an historian and diarist. Richard died on the 3rd September 1864 aged 43, possibly due to famine.   

Treasure 1 :- Richard’s Diary 

Richard kept his own diary from 1st January 1862 to 11th June 1864. Richard’s diary provided a unique insight into the social and cultural history of Victorian Britain and details issues such as poor working conditions. Poverty and regular bouts of ill-health were commonplace and detailed throughout with the diary. In this particular section of the diary, Richard details how the American Civil War caused problems in the supply of raw cotton. 

The two photographs show the diary when opened measured 44.6cm (width) and 16.5 cm (height). When closed the diary measured 22.3cm (width) and 16.5cm (height). I recently helped to transcribe pages from the diary and one quote from Page 60 (Dec 25-27) which really stands out for me is:-

“It is now Christmas Eve and with a thankful heart I am enjoying a good fire. I have selected for my Christmas reading ‘Marmion’ by Sir Walter Scott. When past 12 o’clock my Brothers John, Jerry, and James came to the door and John sang a verse of ‘While Shepherds’, after which we all sat down to a cup of tea, some cheese and Christmas loaf”

This really captures the spirit of Christmas as well as Richard’s religious values.

Treasure 2:- Poor Relief Book

This poor relief book belonged to the Skipton Workhouse and Poor Law district 1826 – 1869. Due to increased poverty and illness, Richard had to sign this book to apply for out-relief and further assistance. This gave Richard special permission to live at home rather than at the workhouse so he could gain further payments. This was referenced in Richard’s diary via the following excerpt:-

“Aug 4th At work all Day, though I feel very unable. Mr Bracewell and Doctor Parry called at my house in the forenoon, and told my Wife that I must apply for Parochial relief on the following day, and expressed their surprize that I had not applied before”

When opened the book measured 42 x 2 x 33cm.

Treasure 3:- Book of Common Prayer

Richard visited the church at least once a week on Sundays. This particular book was dated 1809 and measured 11 x 4 x 17cm (when closed). In the excerpt from his diary, despite gaining strength from religion, Richard documents pessimism and hints that he has not got long to live.

“Jan:5th . Sunday. Went to St. James’ Church in the Morning, Text, Job, chap7. Ver6. An excellent sermon. My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and are spent without hope”

Activity 7 Creating Craven

Every Thursday throughout the summer holiday we will be bringing you a new fun activity to try at home. Using simple, everyday objects from around the home, you can follow our lead and get crafty with your family without having to leave the house!

It’s our final week of summer crafts and today we are…..Creating Craven!

Craven has some amazing landscapes and iconic attractions. Join us in making a collage of somewhere you love in Craven or beyond.

What you will need: Paper or card, old magazines or catalogues, found objects (such as leaves, petals, dried pasta, cotton, wool) glue, scissors

Step 1: Think of a place, real or imagined, to create in collage (we chose Skipton Castle!)

Step 2: Cut out or tear small pieces of magazine, photographs, newspapers or other objects. Start to arrange them on your paper

Step 3: Once you are happy with your layout, glue everything down


We’d love to see your creations! Share with us @SkiptonTownHall

What to try next: Make a picture frame for your collage using materials in your home. Construct a 3D model of a Craven landscape such as Ribblehead Viaduct or Skipton Castle using found objects.


We welcome your feedback!

Activity 6 Patterns & Prints

Every Thursday throughout the summer holiday we will be bringing you a new fun activity to try at home. Using simple, everyday objects from around the home, you can follow our lead and get crafty with your family without having to leave the house!

In week 6 of our summer crafts we are experimenting with….Patterns & Prints!

Decorative patterns can be found everywhere around us. There are some surprising patterns and mark- making in the museum collection.

What you will need: Something to print with (there are hundreds of possibilities! Potatoes, fingers, forks, cotton reels, leaves, coins, dominoes, Lego bricks….)

Paint (If you don’t have any paint, you could use paper and coloured pencils to take rubbings from different places around the home or garden, to find and create patterns instead!)

Step 1: Gather as many printmaking ‘tools’ as you can from around your home. There are so many possibilities! We used bubble wrap, buttons, coins, cotton reels, leaves, our fingers, potatoes cut into different shapes and even a potato masher!

Step 2: Dip your tools into paint. You can also use a paintbrush to help you apply the paint

Step 3: Create a basic pattern using your tool

Step 4: Start to build up your print using different colours and tools. What patterns can you make?


We’d love to see what you have created. Share with us @SkiptonTownHall

What to try next: Make a picture frame for your prints using materials in your home. Can you curate your own exhibition of prints for family and friends?


We welcome your feedback!

Activity 5 Discovering Shakespeare Part 2

Every Thursday throughout the summer holiday we will be bringing you a new fun activity to try at home. Using simple, everyday objects from around the home, you can follow our lead and get crafty with your family without having to leave the house!

In the early 1930’s, a Shakespeare First Folio was donated to the museum by Miss Ann Wilkinson, daughter of a local businessman. At the  time of Shakespeare’s death, in 1616, 18 of his plays had not reached print. They only existed in handwritten actors’ stage notes and Shakespeare’s own drafts. Included in these unpublished works were some of Shakespeare’s most popular plays such as Macbeth, Twelfth Night and the Tempest. It is unlikely that any of these plays would have survived without the Folio. It is for reasons like this that it is thought of as the most important book in English literature.

This week we are making our own finger puppets of William Shakespeare himself! Plus two of his most famous characters- Romeo & Juliet!

What you will need: Paper, scissors, colouring pencils

Step 1: Print out the finger puppet template: Craven Museum – Shakespeare Finger Puppets

Don’t worry if you don’t have a printer, you can just draw your own! Remember to add two small holes to put your fingers through.

Step 2: Cut out your finger puppets

Step 3: Get colouring!

Step 4: Now your finger puppets are complete you can create your own Shakespeare performance!


We’d love to see your creations! Share with us @SkiptonTownHall

What to try next: Make your own puppet theatre using a cardboard box!


We welcome your feedback!

Activity 4 Fun in the Sun

Every Thursday throughout the summer holiday we will be bringing you a new fun activity to try at home. Using simple, everyday objects from around the home, you can follow our lead and get crafty with your family without having to leave the house!

For this week’s activity, we are getting crafty outside!

What you will need: Card or cardboard, pen/pencil, scissors, flowers and leaves

Step 1: Find a piece of card or thin cardboard

Step 2: Draw a plant pot or vase design on to the cardboard

Step 3: Use a pencil to carefully create small holes above your drawing

Step 4: Now gather some leaves and flowers to decorate! Ask a grown up to help you find flowers you can pick.

Step 5: Gently push the stems through the holes to decorate your picture


We’d love to see your creations! Share with us @SkiptonTownHall

What to try next: Create amazing patterns with leaf rubbings using paper and crayons!


We welcome your feedback!

Activity 3 Curious Creatures

Every Thursday throughout the summer holiday we will be bringing you a new fun activity to try at home. Using simple, everyday objects from around the home, you can follow our lead and get crafty with your family without having to leave the house!

For week 3 of our summer activities, let’s explore some….Curious Creatures

There are many curious and unexpected animals in the Museum collection. Robert Thompson was a furniture maker born in Kilburn, North Yorkshire. He was well known for his wood carvings of burrowing mice hidden away on the furniture he produced. It is believed that one of his craftsmen remarked as they worked “We all as poor as church mice”, leading to Thompson carving a small mouse on the church screen he was working on. Robert Thompson carved the furniture in the Craven District Council chamber in Skipton Town Hall. You can spot a genuine Mouseman piece of furniture because each mouse usually has flat whiskers carved close to the face and no front legs.

Make a clay mouse and other curious creatures!

What you will need: Ready-made clay or make you own salt-dough using salt, plain flour and water

Step 1: If you have ready-made clay, you can skip to step 3. Measure out one cup of plain flour with half a cup of salt. Slowly add warm water and mix together to make a firm dough

Step 2: Knead the dough out on a lightly floured surface until smooth

Step 3: Roll out a small ball of clay and shape one end into a point for the nose. Create two small ears and a sausage of clay for the mouse tail

Step 4: Attach the ears and tail. Add two eyes using a pencil

Step 5: If you are using shop-bought clay, follow the instructions on the packaging. For the salt-dough, place your mouse (and any other creatures you have created!) into the oven- ask an adult for help with this one! on a very low heat for approximately 2 hours (keep a close eye on them over this time) When the models are hard, they are ready

Step 6: Decorate with paint if you wish


We’d love to see your creations! Share with us @SkiptonTownHall

What to try next: Why not bake an animal-themed cake?


Activity 2 Discovering Shakespeare

Every Thursday throughout the summer holiday we will be bringing you a new fun activity to try at home. Using simple, everyday objects from around the home, you can follow our lead and get crafty with your family without having to leave the house!

In week 2 we are…Discovering Shakespeare!

In 1623, seven years after William Shakespeare’s death, a compilation of 36 of his plays were published together in one volume. No more than 750 copies of this ‘First Folio’ were printed and today only about 230 survive. First Folios took over two years to print and, due to printing techniques used at the time, it is believed that no two copies of the book are identical. In the early 1930s, a Shakespeare First Folio was donated to Craven Museum by Miss Ann Wilkinson, daughter of a local businessman.

Create your own first folio with your very own quill!

What you will need: Paper, coloured pens or pencils, scissors, sellotape and glue

Step 1: Begin with a landscape sheet of A4 paper. Fold in half, right to left

Step 2: Fold the paper in half again, right to left

Step 3: Open up the paper once (it should look like it looked in step 2)

Step 4: Fold the paper in half again, top to bottom

Step 5: Using a pair of scissors, make a cut from the right side to the centre fold

Step 6: Open up the paper to a full A4 size

Step 7: Fold in half top to bottom

Step 8: Gently push the edges of the folded paper inwards

Step 9: You should now begin to see the different pages of your book. Gently flatten any edges

Step 10: Take another sheet of paper and fold in half

Step 11: Draw a feather shape in pencil

Step 12: Cut out the feather shape. You should have two identical feather shapes

Step 13: Holding both feather pieces together, make small cuts down one side of your feather

Step 14: Turn the feather over and make small cuts down the other side of the feather. Separate the feather shapes

Step 15: Lay a pen or pencil down the middle of the feather and secure with sellotape

Step 16: Using a small amount of glue attach the second feather on top of the pencil

Step 17: You are now ready to decorate your first folio!!


We’d love to see your creations! Share with us @SkiptonTownHall

What to try next: Create your own ruff colour using folded newspaper!


We welcome your feedback!

Activity 1 Creative Costume

Every Thursday throughout the summer holiday we will be bringing you a new fun activity to try at home. Using simple, everyday objects from around the home, you can follow our lead and get crafty with your family without having to leave the house!

Every summer we hold our Make & Take family craft activities in Skipton Town Hall and we know how much they are loved. This year, our beloved Town Hall is temporarily closed for the National Lottery Heritage Funded redevelopment and so we are bringing our craft workshops directly to you at home!

Let’s kick things off with Week 1….Creative Costume!

The Museum has a vast collection of costume collected over the years. Different clothes from the past and present can tell us so much. We can find out who wore them, what they did, and how they lived. They can be made from different materials, in different styles and using different techniques.

For out first activity we are going to make our own paper doll, complete with historical outfits!

What you will need: Paper, scissors, coloured pencils

Step 1: Print our ready-made template:

Craven Museum – Creative Costume Activity

Don’t worry if you don’t have a printer, you can simply draw your own on paper.

Step 2: Cut out the body template and decorate

Step 3: Colour in the clothes and cut them out

Step 4: Carefully fold the ‘tabs’ over. These will help to keep the clothes in place!

Step 5: Time to dress up!

We’d love to see your creations! Share with us at @SkiptonTownHall


What to try next: Play dress up in your own clothes, what character can you become? Can you make an outfit using other materials from around your home?


We welcome your feedback!

Diving into the History of the Leeds Liverpool Canal

Whilst recently researching the Leeds Liverpool Canal, we came across an in-depth collection of documents about the canal history. It also includes letters between members of the Leeds Liverpool Canal Company, which give an insight into their daily correspondence with canal tenants and users. Here’s a small selection of some of the things we found!

The idea of the Leeds Liverpool Canal, a waterway that would cross the country from east to west, was first suggested in the 1760s. However, complex discussion about which route would be best, followed by the long process of building the canal, meant it wasn’t completed until 1816.

This booklet, An Explanation of the Plan of the Canal from Leeds to Liverpool printed in 1788, gives a description by John Hustler about why building the canal was so important. John was a wool-stapler (wool dealer) from Bradford, and was a canal promoter. His list includes the goods that could be transported and the benefits it would bring to the area. He also predicts the profits that could be made and gives an outline of how the money to build the canal could be raised.

‘Canal navigations through the inestimable advantages derived from them to commerce, manufactures, agriculture, population, and improvements of every kind, certainly claim the preeminence over every other exertion of human power and industry’

After the canal was opened, it was used to transport goods across the country. The Leeds Liverpool Canal Company was formed by an Act in 1770 to allow and improve trade connections across the Pennines. The company documents tell us a lot about how the canal operated.

This rent book from the late 1800s shows the individuals and businesses that were paying ‘acknowledgments’ to the Canal Company. ‘Acknowledgments’ included the use of land owned by the Company, or privileges such as having a doorway in a building that opened onto the towpath. Have a look at the reference on this page of the book to the Skipton Castle Estate.

‘Mr Sugden, Kildwick is allowed to put out a doorway from new building on to Canal Bank on payment of usual ackt. From 25. Mar. 1892’

The paying of these acknowledgements was carefully monitored and documented. These two letters from 1902 and 1916 are examples of correspondence between members of the canal company. They both discuss Junction Mills at Shipley. One talks about a barrier installed and the other debates the right of way on a section of the canal tow path.

‘Saw Mr Hill on Monday July 10th re carting along the towing path. He was of opinion that they had acquired a right of way over the towing path

It’s documents like these (sometimes called ‘ephemera’) that help us to learn more about the canal history. They give a deeper insight into how the Leeds Liverpool Canal came to be, and a sneak-peek into the daily workings of the Canal Company.

Do you have a piece of canal history, or a memory about the canal that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you! Check out our contact page to tell us your story.

Your Memories of Skipton Town Hall

in those days everybody always gathered at the Town Hall… That was the place to go to see the New Year in, and Whitsuntide. It’s where all the different processions collected up…. It was always the focal point in the town for people to come to.’

Margaret Jaffa, a Skipton resident, speaking in 1995

 

As the NLHF funded redevelopment of Skipton Town Hall continues, we’ve been researching the building and its important place in the history of Craven. Throughout June, we’re inviting you to share some of your memories of the Town Hall with us, which could be used as part of our new displays.

Built on the site of the old vicarage for Holy Trinity Church in 1862 by Mr Jee of Liverpool, Skipton Town Hall has a long history. In 1876-8 it was transformed by the architects Lockwood and Mawson (builders of Salts Mill), who raised the ceiling and extended the public hall. In 1895 it was purchased by Skipton Urban District Council. Since then it has been used for public events and civic duties. In the 1970s, Craven Museum moved from its previous home in Skipton Library into the new extension at the back of the building.

As our redevelopment project shapes the next chapter of the Town Hall’s story, we are currently designing welcome and introduction signs for the entrance to the building that will include photographs and quotes about its place in Craven’s history. Throughout June we are inviting you to share some of your memories about Skipton Town Hall, which could feature as part of our new displays.

Do you have a memory of visiting the town hall as a child? Congregating outside during the 1953 coronation? Hearing announcements from the balcony loudspeakers? Seeing a procession pass through the town centre? From royal weddings and national events to local theatre, music festivals concerts and nativity plays, Skipton Town Hall has been a hub of community and cultural activity over its long life-span. Do you have a reminiscence or photograph to share? All memories are welcome, including recent events.

There are lots of ways to contact us. You can send us your memory by email at museum@cravendc.gov.uk, or by post to the following address: 1 Belle Vue Square, Broughton Road, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 1FJ

You can also share your reminiscence with us on our Twitter or Facebook page. Alternatively, you can send us your memory through our contact page.

All of your memories will be collected and may potentially be used as part of our new displays. No memory is too small or too big – whether it’s one or two sentences on the back of a postcard or a long letter, we’re collecting anything you would like to share!