Museum:The Extraordinary World of Charles Waterton at Wakefield Museum

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The Extraordinary World of Charles Water




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Wakefield One,
Burton Street,

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Wakefield Museum is Covid-19 Secure and is re-open to visitors.

This means that it uses social distancing and other guidelines to protect the health of everyone. Staff will greet each visitor to explain viewing arrangements. For full reopening details please visit:

Visitors to Wakefield Museum can take a trip to the extraordinary world of Charles Waterton - a pioneering Victorian eco-warrior, explorer and Yorkshireman.

Waterton's interest in wildlife was a lifelong passion. In 1812 travelled to Guiana in South America, the first of four expeditions to explore the natural world. He saw exotic species such as caimans, toucans, vampire bats and sloths and brought back many specimens which he preserved for display in his museum. When he returned to Walton Hall, Wakefield, in 1820 he dedicated his life to observing and protecting the local wildlife, and created what is said to be the world's first nature reserve.

He built a stone wall stretching over 3 miles around the Walton Hall Estate to keep poachers out and the wildlife in. To encourage more birdlife he planted trees and left hollow tree trunks and branches for nesting birds like barn owls. Artificial nest boxes (again, another world's first!) were built for owls, sand martins and starlings. He bought a telescope to watch wild birds and Wakefield Museum is now home to some of Waterton’s collection of preserved animals – some of which are made up from different animal parts!

See exotic birds, monkeys, a snake, anteater and sloth. The star attraction being the amazing caiman which he rode ashore in South America!

The Waterton collection is on loan from Stonyhurst College.

Disabled toiletsEducation/study areaFacilities for groupsFacilities for educational visitsAccepts groups

Children welcomeMobility Accessibility FacilitiesSmoking not allowed


See location of Wakefield Museum on Google mapsSee location on Google maps

Map reference: SE 330209  Lat: 53.68351 Long: -1.50182

By Road:
Follow signs for Wakefield City Centre. Located behind Wakefield's County Hall.

By Public Transport:
Nearest train station: Wakefield Westgate Railway Station
Nearest bus station: Wakefield Bus Station


  • Disabled toiletsDisabled toilets
  • Education/study areaEducation/study area
  • Facilities for groupsFacilities for groups
  • Facilities for educational visitsFacilities for educational visits
  • Accepts groupsAccepts groups
  • Children welcomeChildren welcome
  • Mobility Accessibility FacilitiesMobility Accessibility Facilities
  • Smoking not allowedSmoking not allowed