Cliffe Castle was originally the home of Victorian millionaire and textile manufacturer, Henry Isaac Butterfield. Completed in the 1880s the building was funded by the Butterfield family’s industrial empire which included wool textile mills and a shipping business that took British goods to Europe, America and China.
The completed house was a showpiece of international art and French decoration. It was the scene of many glittering social events. Butterfield family connections included the Roosevelt’s of America and members of the court of Napoleon III.
In the 1950s the Castle was bought by Sir Bracewell Smith, a local man who became Lord Mayor of London. Sir Bracewell used architect Sir Albert Richardson to turn Cliffe Castle’s gardens into a grand public park and remodelled the Castle to be a free museum for the people of the district.
In recent years Cliffe Castle has undergone a major restoration. Visitors can see sparkling Victorian rooms and furniture, paintings, and decorative art. Special galleries deal with natural history, archaeology and social history, all of which can be seen on your visit along with the internationally important display of stained glass by Morris and Co. The Castle also hosts changing exhibitions from our collections and the community.Family areas ensure that there is something for all ages.
We are pleased to announce that the bees from the popular display have returned to Cliffe Castle for the summer. They are ready for you to see in their observation hive on the first floor of the museum.
Outside visitors can enjoy spectacular parkland and gardens . There is also a large new children’s play- area.
Visitors to the Castle should be aware that the surrounding park is to be the subject of a major Heritage Lottery Funded restoration scheme. Work begins in mid June 2016 and will include the reinstatement of original glasshouses, water features, the creation of a new cafe and animal houses and improved landscaping. The museum remains open whilst the work takes place however there will be some reduction in car parking and disruption to the wider park. The animals and birds will also be re-located to new homes during this time. We anticipate that the project will be completed by early summer 2017. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and hope you will enjoy the restored park in 2017
Please be aware that the Cliffe Castle cafe is currently closed due to refurbishment work in the park.
For more visitor photos check out our Bradford Museums & Galleries flickr group