Cliffe Castle Museum

Cliffe Castle Museum has now reopened (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday 11am - 3pm) 

We continue to follow national guidance around managing the impact of Coronavirus (Covid-19). Cliffe Castle Museum is now re-open with Covid-secure measures in place throughout the museum for the safety of staff and visitors.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • visitors being asked to provide information for NHS Test and Trace or to ‘check-in’ via the NHS Covid-19 app using the QR poster;
  • visitors and staff wearing face coverings (compulsory in museums and galleries from 8 August);
  • visitors remaining in household groups or support bubbles and not mixing with other households inside our sites (from 14 October);
  • visitors and staff practising social distancing and good hand hygiene;
  • visitors observing the ‘Rule of 6’ outside in the gardens, grounds and/or parks around our sites.

We will be open with these measures in place for the foreseeable future, which are subject to review and in accordance with changing Government and Council guidelines and legislation.

We thank you in advance for your co-operation and look forward to welcoming you. (updated 14 October 2020). 


The Bees have now buzzed off to their Autumn/Winterhome,  cared for by the Airedale Beekeepers.  We look forward to welcoming the hive back in the spring.  We'll update the site when they're back.

History of Cliffe Castle

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.

Airedale Gallery

The Airedale Gallery explores the fascinating geology of the district from the birth of Earth through to the formation of the underlying rocks that define the district and on to the shaping of the landscape during the last Ice Age. The gallery explores the Carboniferous Coal Measures and Millstone Grit that are famous for fuelling the Industrial Revolution that led to the birth of industrial towns & cities like Keighley, Bradford & Leeds. Throughout the gallery the visitor can view a myriad of ancient fossils from the familiar ammonites and ichthyosaurs of the Jurassic to the internationally important holotype of the early tetrapod Pholiderpeton scutigerum. 

Molecules to Minerals Gallery

Our Molecules to Minerals Gallery explores the geology of rocks and minerals where visitors can learn how to identify different minerals and rocks or just enjoy the colourful beauty of what has been described by the former head of the Geology Museum as '...probably the best, as regards the range and quality of its minerals and its design, outside the major national museums’.

Natural History Gallery

The museum's Natural History Gallery is at the heart of the visitor experience displaying a variety of traditional dioramas of mammals and birds and also exploring skeletons and the evolution of insects. This gallery has been a firm favourite with visitors of all ages since Cliffe Castle Museum opened in 1960.

Support Cliffe Castle Museum

You can make a donation by clicking on this link , selecting 'Museums and Galleries' and then 'Cliffe Castle'

Cliffe Castle Park

Like the museum, Cliffe Castle Park was given to the people of the district by local born Lord Mayor of London Sir Bracewell Smith. His gift which included pleasure grounds and woodland has been a popular destination for nearly 70 years. 

The park occupies part of the estate planned out for local industrialist Henry Isaac Butterfield as a setting for Cliffe Castle, the home which he re-developed in the 1870s. 

Things to see on your visit include marble fountains, a pond, ornamental Victorian rockwork, glasshouses and terraces and a very popular children's play area.

The park was successful in applying for a major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. which allowed us to restore many of the original park features and to re-create some of the lost glasshouse and vineries. The work also included a new aviary and small animal house.

Pavilion Café

Cliffe Castle's Pavilion Cafe is open for customers between 10am - 4pm Tuesday to Sunday.

For bookings and enquiries please call 01535 957060.

Visitor photos

For more visitor photos check out our Bradford Museums & Galleries flickr group