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Founder’s heirloom donated to York’s Castle Museum
Dr Kirk’s great granddaughter, Catherine, left, and granddaughter, Glennys, in Kirkgate at York Castle Museum, during their visit from Australia.
DESCENDANTS of the founder of York’s Castle Museum travelled from Australia to drop off a family heirloom.
Dr John Kirk’s great granddaughter Catherine and her mother, Glennys, who are holidaying in the UK from Perth, West Australia, dropped in at the city museum to donate a hand-written medical notebook he used when training to be a doctor in 1892.
The visit came after the museum received a letter from Mrs Kirk, the widow of John Christopher Kirk, eldest son of Franklin Christopher de Lamplugh Kirk who was the 2nd son of Dr John Kirk, saying that she had found the medical notes.
Mrs Kirk said: “I didn’t realise I had them to be honest, they must have been in that box lying undiscovered for years.”
Alison Bodley, curator of history at the museum, said: “It will be great to have items that are so intimately linked to the founder of our museum. John Kirk achieved great things here and, as well as looking after his initial collection, we are always keen to find out more about the man himself.”
Born in Hull in 1869, John Lamplugh Kirk was educated in North Yorkshire and at Christ’s College, Cambridge. He studied at St George’s Hospital and then practised at Great Ormond Street Hospital, The West End Hospital for Nervous Diseases and St John’s Hospital for Diseases of the Skin.
In 1898 he and his young family moved to Pickering, where he indulged his passion for collecting bygones – items which were disappearing due to mass production.
Mrs Kirk said: “He was a real character and we have all got his bug for collecting in the family.
“When he would go to patient’s homes and they couldn’t pay he would often accept items as payment and add them to his extensive collection.
“Once word got round, people would hide their family heirlooms when they knew he was coming round in case he spotted anything he liked.”
By 1918 his collection included everything from Perambulators to antique weapons.
In the early 1930s Dr Kirk decided that his collections would best be in a museum created within the old Female Prison in York and many of his original items form the basis of the collections today, many in the recreation Victorian Street which was named Kirkgate.
The medical book will now be put in the Kirk archive and will be considered as part of future temporary exhibitions once it has been restored.
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