HE gained fame as the scourge of England's highways, one of the most notorious robbers to darken the annals of York's long history - until he met his end on a gibbet at the city's Knavesmire.

Now he has returned.

To mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of highwayman Dick Turpin, the man himself will stage a reappearance this Easter to recount stories about his exploits to youngsters.

And where better to tell his tales in the very place where he spent his final hours - in York Castle Museum's Condemned Cell?

Turpin was held in the prison buildings which now house the museum for the last six months of his life, and would have spent those final hours in the cell.

His reputation has been the subject of some lively debate in recent years, with many writers pointing to a decided gap between the romantic legend of the dashing highwayman who rode at speed to York on his steed Black Bess, and the more sordid truth about a man who may have actually been a pretty brutal armed robber.

What certainly appears to be the case is that Turpin fled to Yorkshire after his life of crime made things too hot for him in the Home Counties, and settled under the assumed name of John Palmer in the East Riding.

His behaviour eventually brought him to the attention of the authorities, who clapped him in prison at York, but his true identity was only revealed when he tried to write to his brother for help. Although known as a highwayman and a robber, he was sentenced to death for horse stealing, and hanged on April 19, 1739.

During the Easter holidays, Turpin - alias actor Gary Goldthorpe - has been in the spooky cell telling families about his exploits, and will be back on Good Friday and Easter Saturday, (March 25 and 26); Easter Monday, (March 28), and Saturday, April 2 and Sunday, April 3.

There will also be historic firearms demonstrations of the type of weapons Dick Turpin would have used. These take place from Tuesday, March 29, to Friday, April 1, and will not be for the faint-hearted as loud noises, smoke and bright flashes are promised!

Both events take place between 10am and 12.30pm, and between 1.30 and 4pm.

Admission is free to York residents with a York card. Admission for non-York residents is £6.50 for adults, £5 concessions, £3.50 children and £15 for a family (2 adults and 1 child; additional child £3).

The museum opens daily from 9.30am to 5pm during the Easter holiday.

For more information, phone 01904 687687 or visit


Updated: 10:18 Thursday, March 24, 2005