Pontefract Museum

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Monday to Friday 10.00am – 4.30pm
Saturday 10.30am – 4.30pm

Free entry

What do you get if you cross liquorice and art nouveau?

Sometimes when you walk through Pontefract town centre you can smell the delicious aroma of sweets being made. Yum!  Visit Pontefract Museum and discover the long history of sweet making in the town, with its roots in liquorice! 

The museum also tells the story of Pontefract and the people who have lived, worked and played there. 

Discover the history of Pontefract Castle from the construction of a wooden fort after the Battle of Hastings to its demolition by public request after the last siege of the Civil War.

You can also find out how the town of Pontefract grew, thanks to the barracks, coal mine and liquorice manufacture.  Discover the world’s first secret ballot box, a golden lion and a Victorian range.

Art Nouveau
Pontefract Museum was built in 1904 as a Carnegie public library in the art nouveau style; this building still has many of the original fittings.

Beautiful tiles decorate the entrance and staircase, with intricate door handles and matching chairs.  If you like the art nouveau style then this building is unmissable.

Art Nouveau was based on natural forms and curved lines, found in plants and flowers.  Pontefract Museum is a great example of this with beautiful plant motifs and grand curves.

Reference room
Want to know more about Pontefract’s fascinating history? The reference room has the books, articles, maps and photographs you need.  This much loved and well used resource is a must for all things Pontefract. Explore your family history or just browse fascinating facts, there’s information here you won’t find anywhere else. 

Bagley’s Glass
Knottingley became a centre of glass-making in Victorian Times and the area continues to produce glass today.

Pontefract Museum is home to an incredible collection of Bagley’s glass.

Bagley’s heyday was the period between the world wars (1918-1939) when the firm became a leader in inexpensive domestic pressed glassware. This was achieved by its wide range of products, experiments with coloured glass, expanding domestic and foreign markets, and a Royal seal of approval.

The display at Pontefract Museum explores the history of glass making in the area from roman times to modern day; looks at what it was like to work at Bagleys; and shows many examples of pieces made. 

Ackworth Hoard
When this you see, remember me

The Ackworth Hoard was found buried in a garden in Ackworth last year inside a pot made locally in Wrenthorpe. It is made up of 52 gold and 539 silver coins and a single gold ring.  Dating to the Civil War, it is the only hoard known from the Wakefield district and has a distinct Royalist association.
Gold finger ring inscribed 'When this you see, remember me'

Wakefield Council campaigned to keep the Ackworth Hoard in the district.  Fundraising has ensured that this amazing treasure will remain in Yorkshire.
The Ackworth Hoard - coins and a gold ring buried in a pot

The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £25,500 towards the acquisition of the treasure and a programme of associated activities so that people can learn about its importance to Wakefield and Yorkshire. Further support includes £49,000 raised from national funding, £27,000 from the Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant and £10,000 from the Headley Trust. Over £2,500 has also been reached through local fundraising including Ackworth Parish Council donating £500.

 A selection of the hoard will go on display from late summer 2013.  Please check with Pontefract Museum as to what is on display before making a special trip.

For more information about the Ackworth Hoard, visit the website.

Where are we?
Pontefract Museum is situated next door to Pontefract Library, on Salter Row, just off the Market Square.

Disabled access
Pontefract Museum is on one level. A disabled toilet is available.

For other access requirements, please email.


  1. I volunteer at Canterbury Cathedral and one of our renowned stained glass windows features the name Jordan Fitz Eisulf of Pontefract. Does anyone know if this enobled Norman knight is recorded in history? We always refer to him as a Norman knight from Pontefract and an acquaintance of our famous Archbishop St.Thomas Becket

    1. Apologies for the delay in replying.

      This could be the person also known as Jordan de Thornhill. He is more often associated with Wakefield/Sandal than Pontefract, but mentioned in St John's Priory (Pontefract) charter written about by Richard Holmes.

      Was Constable of Wakefield (?), held land mainly in the manor of Wakefield (Thornhill/Dewsbury, Sowerby area, Sitlington) had Hamelin de Warenne as overlord.

      We hope this helps!


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