Newest Review: ... ribbons are shown in glass cases. It really is an excellent display and you feel that Helena had a true love for her needlework and costu... more
A Wonderful Gift
Helena Thompson Museum (Workington)
Member Name: freeandsingle
Helena Thompson Museum (Workington)
Date: 10/11/08, updated on 10/11/08 (300 review reads)
Advantages: Full of local heritage
Disadvantages: no wheel chair access to second floor
I spent a few days in the Lake District last summer and decided to stop off in Workington to visit the Helena Thompson Museum.
I love to visit Museums and this one appealed to me because I had read about her fine collection of costume dresses and hats in a magazine some time ago.
The house formally known as Park End was home to Helena Thompson for seventy years and after her death she left it as a gift it to the people of Workington so that it could be turned into a museum.
She helped the town of Workington in many ways over the years by donating to charities, improving the town and helping to build a maternity ward in Workington Infirmary.
Helena had a special interest in the history of costume and needlework; she collected a vast amount of women's and children's dresses in styles fashionable from the late 18th century to the beginning of the 20th century.
They are now displayed with jewellery and hats in the museum today.
The house is split into five galleries and they are all full of furniture and costumes, porcelain, maritime models and displays of local history.
As you enter the house you will be taken aback by the stunning stair case and Costume Gallery, it is really interesting to see such beautiful clothes and in such good condition.
Dresses worn over crinoline with huge hem lines and delightful children's outfits all lace and ribbons are shown in glass cases.
It really is an excellent display and you feel that Helena had a true love for her needlework and costume collection.
The Victorian Room is set out just like a Victorian parlour with gold flock wall paper, drapes and highly polished furniture I particularly loved the table it would look stunning in my dining room.
The Georgian Room was full of light wood glass cases displaying porcelain glass wear and some gorgeous tea pots.
The Exhibition hall which was originaly the stables is now used for weddings and for groups to hire.
Going up the stairs I noticed a stunning red brocade bench on the landing it was too beautiful to sit on and in immaculate condition.
The Curwen room.
This was full of displays of local history going back before industrialisation.
Workington was dependant on farming and fishing and there is a lot about Curwen Hall and John Christian Curwen who did a lot to improve farming methods in the early 19th century.
Beautiful wooden chests and clocks are displayed and a wonderful collection of ploughs and how they were improved over the years.
I was quite taken up with the model of Curwen Hall it must have taken hours of work to get it so perfect.
The Long gallery.
Here you can browse through displays of industrial development from ship building to coal mining, there are some model half built ships, and apparently these were used as ten plates back in the 20th century.
Displays of churches and schools in the area and a glass cabinet containing old math's books going back to the early 19th century, and finally a display of sport, I particularly found the Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling Association display interesting being a wrestling fan myself.
The Lawrie Room.
This is dedicated to William Carruthers Lawrie who was a chemist in Workington and a very keen photographer and historian.
The display shows photographs of boys wearing skirts this was common practice during his childhood and other photographic work that he had won awards for over the years.
The thing that interested me the most in this room was a glass cabinet with items from his chemist shop it even has his original certificate showing that he was a qualified chemist.
***Opening times to the public***
Tuesday to Sunday 1.30pm to 4.30 pm, during July and August 10.30 to 4.30
Admission is Free.
It is a popular venue for weddings and the walled garden at the rear of the house is a great back ground for photos, and of course that stunning staircase.
The museum holds a licence for civil ceremonies and I noticed that it also holds a licence for same sex ceremonies.
***Group Activities offered.***
I noticed all of these advertised at the reception and the receptionist told me that all the groups are very popular with the local people especially the radio club. Apparently they have a special room equipped with every thing that a budding radio ham could possibly need.
Lace making, embroidery and patch work art groups,
History and civic societies for meetings lectures and presentations
Town's women's guild
Keep fit classes
Any one is invited to join these groups by contacting the museum.
Park End Road,
Tel 01900 326255.
Toilets and mobility wash room
This is a very interesting museum and a lot of care and hard work has gone into every room.
The small shop has the usual post cards and books along with mugs and memorabilia but I didn't buy anything because I found it to be a bit over priced.
Wheelchair access was easy for the ground floor but there was only the staircase to access the second floor, but still worth a visit just for the costume gallery.
Helena Thompson has left a remarkable gift to the people of Workington and they have turned it into a beautiful Museum full of History and local culture.
I am sure she would be over whelmed if she could see it now in all its glory.
Summary: A superb collection of period costume dresses
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