Every museum throughout the world has an object or piece of art that it’s closely associated with. The British Museum has the Elgin Marbles and the Louvre has the “Mona Lisa.” At the Whitby Museum located along the Yorkshire coast, in the northeastern part of England, is Clarence the Crocodile. Many may argue that the museum’s signature item of notoriety is the Hand of Glory (the preserved hand of a convicted felon, supposedly). But hands-down the winner of the hearts and minds of young visitors definitely goes to this diminutive yet dapper reptile.
Very little is known about how this exotic foreign creature ended up in this quaint seaside town. This little known fact did not stop the museum from celebrating Clarence’s centenary. It has been suggested that Clarence once belonged to the Arthur Ross family, local antique merchants who donated him to the museum in the early 1960s.
Since his introduction into the museum, Clarence has taken on the role of a welcoming ambassador, complete with a collection box for monetary donations. He is often adorned with hand-made outfits. These prêt-à-porter costumes are designed and assembled by members of the museum’s staff. The clothes are changed every three to four months and often reflect particular holidays or events, such as the town’s Goth Weekend.
Clarence is also an Instagram star. Here, viewers can take an online stroll with Clarence as he views the various objects throughout the galleries. Viewers can also catch a glimpse of his latest fashionable attire.
Clarence is found eagerly awaiting visitors across from the admissions desk.
Know Before You Go
There is a nominal entrance fee. The museum is closed on Mondays, but operates from 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. the other six days a week. It's located in Pannett Park, which offers panoramic views of the area, including the Abbey ruins and harbor. It's less than a 20 minute walk uphill from the town center. Check the website for parking information. There is a cafe on-site, but opening times vary differently from the museum.