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Grace Darling Museum

The RNLI Grace Darling Museum commemorates the life of Victorian Britain’s greatest heroine, who risked her life to rescue nine survivors from the wrecked SS Forfarshire on 7 September 1838.

Grace Darling Museum

The Grace Darling Museum guides you through Grace’s upbringing and life in the lighthouse, the events of the rescue that propelled her into the limelight and her status as a national heroine. Learn about Grace’s story through her personal items, including letters, family portraits and the famous coble used in the rescue. And find yourself transported back to 1838 with our audio-visual tools and a stunning model of the Longstone lighthouse.

The museum was originally opened on this site in 1938 - and today it’s a stylish and environmentally friendly building that does justice to the displays, events and research that takes place here.

You can also take a virtual tour of the Grace Darling Museum and visit the lighthouse on the Farne Islands where Grace worked. The Farne Islands are a National Nature Reserve home to an internationally important breeding colony of thousands of seabirds and grey seals. To sail around the islands, you need to catch a boat from Seahouses harbour. It's recommended that you book your boat trip in advance.

Arts council England accredited museum logo

We are an Accredited Museum

The Accreditation Scheme is the UK industry standard for museums and galleries. These nationally agreed standards help ensure all museums are sustainable, focused and trusted, inspiring the confidence of the public and funding and governing bodies. The scheme is delivered in partnership across the UK by Arts Council England.

Volunteer with us

Since 1938, volunteers have played a vital role in keeping the legacy of Grace Darling alive, and you can be part of this history. Experience is welcomed but not essential to join our team and become part of the RNLI.

Apply now to become a Museum and Shop Volunteer or Museum Learning Volunteer. If there is something else you feel you could bring to the museum as a volunteer outside of these roles, or you would like an informal chat, please email or call us today. We also welcome applications from people who would like to volunteer remotely from anywhere in the world.

The museum, at the heart of Bamburgh village, sits opposite St Aidan's church and is just a short walk from Bamburgh castle.

By foot

Located in the beautiful Northumbrian Countryside, the museum is accessible on foot using the network of public rights of way in Northumberland.

By train

Our nearest rail station is Berwick-upon Tweed.

By bus

Buses travel into Bamburgh from Berwick and Alnwick. The bus stop in Bamburgh is a couple of minutes' walk from the museum.

By car

On-street parking is available close to the museum. You can also park in the large car park opposite Bamburgh castle (what3words location: manager.homing.slept).

Toilets

The museum does not have toilets, the nearest public toilets are a short walk away on Church Street (What3words location: reseller.topping.appeal). If you need to use our staff facilities for access, medical, or any other reason, please ask a member of our team for the code.

Parking

We ask all visitors to respect the residents, businesses, and attractions around by parking sensibly and legally. Parking is available:

  • Links Road Car Park (what3words location: manager.homing.slept)
  • Glebe Field (when open) (what3words location: purified.strut.case)
  • On-street around the village

Dogs

At the absolute discretion of the volunteers on duty, well-behaved dogs may be allowed to enter the shop, however, no dogs are allowed beyond the wooden doors into the lobby, museum area, or first floor. All support dogs are welcome throughout the premises.

Accessibility 

Accessibility Statement

Donating Objects to the Museum

When a museum gets something new, these objects become part of the museum collection. We take care of them, can display them to the public, and we have rules and plans to manage our collection.

While we always welcome offers, we do not accept objects brought to the museum without notice. If you have an object that you are considering offering to our museum, please contact us with details (and images, if possible) at [email protected].

Walled Garden

The walled garden next to the museum is currently closed to the public and under development by the Bamburgh Castle Estate. Scheduled to open in summer 2024, the project will include a café, a large children's play area and a sensory garden, and will be a fully accessible space. There will also be a purpose-built Changing Places Toilet providing specialist facilities for disabled people, their families and carers. This will have dedicated access and blue badge parking accessed through a new entrance alongside our museum.

Please note that we are currently not taking school or group bookings, and will resume these in 2024.

We offer a variety of workshops for primary school groups, run by experienced volunteers and available for a minimum donation of £2 per person attending, payable by cash or card on the day.

Your donation is appreciated and supports RNLI’s work saving lives at sea. Please note, If your class has over 20 children, we will need to split the group. Schools are also welcome to book for self-led visits with no minimum donation.

You to the Rescue - PSHE, citizenship, history and drama through role play.

Bringing the story of the rescue to life through costume and drama. Pupils become the main characters in the famous story, explore the emotions involved, and gain an understanding of help and rescue.

Duration: 45 minutes
Maximum pupil capacity: 20

Meet the Family - Literacy and history through object handling.

Pupils will ‘meet’ the Darling family to hear about their story and get a chance to ask questions. Find out about Grace Darling, her family and Victorian life in a lighthouse by exploring objects that tell us about their lives. Designed to inspire speaking, listening and responding.

Duration: 45 minutes
Maximum pupil capacity: 20

Puppet Power - Art, design, literacy and history through puppetry.

Recreate the story of Grace Darling with a Victorian shadow puppet show. Pupils make their own puppets and then act out the story.

Duration: 30 minutes
Maximum pupil capacity: 18

Lunch space for school groups may be available for a maximum of 30 pupils at a time. Please enquire about this at the time of your booking.

If you’re planning a school visit to the museum, don’t forget to have a look at our Museum Education Pack (PDF 3.22MB). It contains lesson plans you can use prior to your visit to help you make the most of your time with us, worksheets to use at the museum, and suggested follow-up work. Information to help with risk assessments is also available in the pack.

Private Hire

Our Lantern Room is perfect for small events or meetings. With a capacity of 30 people, this space can be booked for £25 per half-day, and bookings outside of opening hours can be arranged. Whatever you are joining us for, please email us at [email protected] with your ideas and to arrange your booking in advance.

Coach Trips and Large Groups

We welcome coach trips and visits by larger groups. As space is limited in the museum, we request that you contact us in advance of your planned visit so we know you are coming and can avoid clashes with other bookings.

Booking

We’re a small museum and can get very busy, so booking is essential to ensure your group has a great visit. To book, please email [email protected].

An oil portrait of Grace Darling by an unknown artist (attributed to Catherine Sharpe)

Grace Darling was one of the Victorian era’s most celebrated heroines. On 7 September 1838, at the age of 22, she risked her life to rescue the stranded survivors of the wrecked steamship Forfarshire, a feat of bravery which changed her life dramatically. 

Her extraordinary act of bravery became internationally known, making front page news and even reaching Queen Victoria. She became the media celebrity of her day and was showered with honours, including the RNLI's Silver Medal for Gallantry. 

Tragically, Grace died 4 years later, aged just 26. She is still remembered for her courageous actions, and the bravery she demonstrated that night continues to inspire the values we hold today. The museum was established in 1938 to commemorate her life.

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Visit us 

Museum address

RNLI Grace Darling Museum
Radcliffe Road
Bamburgh
Northumberland
NE69 7AE

Telephone

01668 214910

Email

[email protected]

Facebook

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Admission

Free

Opening times

Monday - Friday
10am - 5pm

Saturday - Sunday
Closed

Last entry is 30 minutes before closing time. Opening times depend on volunteer availability and are subject to change. Any unexpected changes to our times will be announced on our Facebook page. Closed 25th – 26th December.