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Bagshaw Museum is a local museum in the town of Batley, West Yorkshire. It is situated in a former mansion in Wilton Park, and is owned and operated by Kirklees Council.[1]

Bagshaw Museum
Photo of the exterior of Bagshaw Museum, a Gothic revival building situated in a landscaped park
Exterior of the museum
Bagshaw Museum is located in West Yorkshire
Bagshaw Museum
Location within West Yorkshire
Former nameWilton Park Museum
Established1911 (1911)
LocationBatley, West Yorkshire
Coordinates53°43′40″N 1°38′43″W / 53.727891°N 1.645363°W / 53.727891; -1.645363
TypeLocal museum
Key holdings
FounderWalter Bagshaw
OwnerKirklees Council
Nearest parkingOn site (no charge)[1]


The building was originally a mansion called 'The Woodlands',[2] built by mill owner George Sheard in 1875. When Sheard died in 1902, no buyer could be found for the elaborate Gothic revival structure—originally costing £25,000 (equivalent to £2,313,354 in 2018)—and so it was acquired by the local authority for a nominal price of £5. It was converted into a museum by Walter Bagshaw in 1911.[3] Originally called the Wilton Park Museum, it was renamed in honour of its first curator following Bagshaw's death in 1927.[4]

The museum was founded using Bagshaw's own private collection. After his death, his daughter Violet Bagshaw continued to travel and acquire objects to donate to the museum.[5] The museum's holdings were significantly expanded in 1929, when it acquired 170 pieces from the collection of John Hilditch, a well known orientalist. Hilditch displayed a large part of his collection in a travelling exhibition, and his will bequeathed it to wherever the exhibition was when he died. In the event, this happened to be the Bagshaw Museum.[6]

A portion of the museum's collection was stolen in 1997.[5]

In early 2016, it was reported that Kirklees Council was considering closing the museum in order to meet budget cuts.[7][8][9] As of 2017, it remains open, with the nearby Dewsbury Museum and Red House Museum closing instead.[10][11] However, according to the Museums Association, Bagshaw's future remains "uncertain".[12]


The museum contains two local history galleries, a South Asia gallery, a temporary exhibition space, and, unusually for a local museum,[3] an Egyptological gallery.[1]

The centrepiece of the Egyptological display is a full size replica mummy, created by curator John Lidster in 1969, using a genuinely historic death mask, bandages and ground coffee.[3] However the museum holds an eclectic collection of bona fide antiquities and ethnographic artefacts. These include a 7th century BCE Egyptian coffin inscribed with the name of its occupant in hieroglyphs;[13] a carving of Sekhmet from the 26th Dynasty of Egypt;[14] a wooden figurine of Han dynasty general Guan Yu;[15] a carved coconut head from the South Pacific islands;[16] a carving of the Hindu deity Garuda;[17] a decorated box from British India;[18] an Aboriginal Australian spear thrower;[19] and a 19th century sword from Sudan.[20]

The museum also holds a substantial collection of Asian textiles, including Japanese and Chinese pieces from the Hilditch collection, subsequent donations from private individuals, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Imperial Institute, and recent acquisitions from South Asia.[5]

In the 1950s, the Contemporary Art Society donated a Francis Bacon painting (Figure Study II) to Bagshaw Museum, which now has an estimated value of between £19.5 million and £60 million. The piece is not on public display because Kirklees Council consider it "too valuable to be exhibited locally", and were reported to be considering selling it.[21] Kirklees Council later confirmed to the Museums Association that the conditions of the donation meant that the work could not be sold.[22]


  1. ^ a b c "Bagshaw Museum". Kirklees Council. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  2. ^ Haigh, Malcolm H. (1978). The History of Batley: 1800–1974. Batley: Malcolm H. Haigh. p. 99.
  3. ^ a b c Hudson, Neil (2016-08-16). "Yorkshire nostalgia: Batley mansion that became a museum". Yorkshire Evening Post. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  4. ^ Ross, David. "Bagshaw Museum". Britain Express. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  5. ^ a b c Bill, Katina (2002). "Asian Textiles in the Bagshaw Museum, Yorkshire". Oxford Asian Textile Group Newsletter. 22: 4–7.
  6. ^ Haigh, Malcolm H. (1978). The History of Batley: 1800–1974. Batley: Malcolm H. Haigh. p. 154.
  7. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa (2016-02-07). "From DH Lawrence's home to industrial mills, is regional heritage in jeopardy?". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  8. ^ "Impending Closure for many UK Regional Museums". Apollo Magazine. 2016-02-08. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  9. ^ Steel, Patrick (2014-08-18). "Kirklees Council proposes closing three museums". Museums Journal. Museums Association.
  10. ^ Lavigueur, Nick (2016-10-03). "Axe falls on three Kirklees museums". Huddersfield Examiner. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  11. ^ "Museum closes after 120-years in town's park". Dewsbury Reporter. 2016-11-03. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  12. ^ Sullivan, Nicola (2016-03-01). "Communities counting the cost of museum closures". Museums Journal. 116 (3). Museums Association.
  13. ^ Taylor, John H. (1988). "A Daughter of King Harsiese". The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology. 74: 230–231. doi:10.2307/3821767. JSTOR 3821767.
  14. ^ Bagshaw Museum (2012-09-03). "Sekhmet Pendant - Yorkshire World Collections". My Learning. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  15. ^ Bagshaw Museum (2012-02-28). "Chinese Warrior". My Learning. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  16. ^ Bagshaw Museum (2012-07-16). "Carved Coconut Head - Yorkshire World Collections". My Learning. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  17. ^ Bagshaw Museum (2012-08-13). "Hindu god Garuda". My Learning. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  18. ^ Bagshaw Museum (2012-08-20). "Anglo-Indian inlaid casket". My Learning. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  19. ^ Bagshaw Museum (2012-08-21). "Australian Aboriginal Spear Thrower". My Learning. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  20. ^ Bagshaw Museum (2012-08-22). "Sudanese Sword". My Learning. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  21. ^ Parveen, Nazia (2016-12-28). "Kirklees council considers selling Francis Bacon painting". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  22. ^ "Kirklees Council Backs Down". Museums Association. 2017-04-10. Retrieved 2017-12-16.

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