The Museum

First established in 1993, the House on Crutches Museum is situated in a remarkable timber framed building and houses an extensive social history collection covering many aspects of community life in Bishop’s Castle and South West Shropshire.

The story of this unique town is told through displays of local artefacts and memorabilia, temporary exhibits and through the sharing of knowledge by its team of enthusiastic volunteers.

The Museum currently has four rooms devoted to domestic life, local businesses, agriculture and childhood. Use these links to find out more about each room.

The Kitchen

The Town Room

Agricultural Room

The Parlour

You can also read more about our collaboration with local artists who’ve produced some wonderful life-sized figures and banners to accompany our displays.

On display in the museum

1 of 4: Sampler


The stitching of samplers with an improving text could well have been a Sunday occupation for young girls. A day of leisure, it was nevertheless a day when children were expected to be on their best behaviour, and if they were allowed to play or read, the toys or books would often have had a religious theme. A home made Noah’s ark, with Noah’s family and pairs of animals would be a typical Sunday toy for younger children. The sentiment of this sampler’s verse seems specifically chosen to curb youthful high spirits. See a larger image of the sampler new window

2 of 4: Jug


During the 18th and 19th centuries, Bishop’s Castle was one of England’s notorious Rotten Boroughs. Votes of ‘free’ men, the burgesses of the town, were bought to ensure the election of candidates who would represent the interests of their wealthy patrons. This bribery was widely criticised and the Reform Act of 1832 finally deprived 56 Rotten Boroughs in England of their Members of Parliament.

On the jug Bishop’s Castle is highlighted among the ‘feathered’ nests on ‘The Old Rotten Tree’. ‘You take our lives when you take away the means whereby we live’, mocks the bribe-taking burgesses. See a larger image new window

3 of 4: The Rocking Man

rocking man

Somewhere in the museum you’ll find a little wooden rocking man. Like many toys, he was handmade at home to amuse the baby. Sadly he’s lost both his arms, which would have moved as he rocked. He was discovered embedded in the wall of a house in the town during renovations. Toys and small items, particularly shoes, belonging to the deceased infants were often hidden in this way. A quiet walk through the churchyard of Bishop’s Castle will reveal the high rate of infant mortality in the town.See the man in more detail new window

4 of 4: Ludlow & Bishop’s Castle Bank

rocking man

In the mid 18th century, most banks were located in London, but by 1800 there were about 300 provincial banks across England. Many were created as Agricultural banks to generate capital for investment in new machinery through the issue of banknotes. Then as now, trust was important to their stability, and provincial banknotes only usually circulated in their immediate vicinity where they were recognised. In 1825 when this Ludlow & Bishop’s Castle Bank note was issued, over-issuing led to the collapse of many banks who couldn’t pay on demand. The 1844 Bank Charter Act reduced the number of private banks issuing their own notes, and the last one ceased in 1921. See the banknote in more detail new window

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