The 15th Century listed Ancient Museum has a fascinating display of Looe’s history, especially fishing, boat building and, of course, smuggling. The building itself is a marvellous exhibit as it retains many of its 550 years old original features with ancient cells (complete with prisoners) and the very old, raised magistrates bench complete with the Royal Coat of Arms.
All sorts of toys, domestic equipment, porcelain, regalia, model boats and much more besides provide interest for all the family.
History of a Town
As you walk into the upper floor of the building, you are entering the room which, from 1587 to 1878, was the East Looe Town Hall and Magistrates Court. Beneath the magnificent timber-framed roof, laws were made and enforced and the town was administered by the Mayor and Corporation, known as Burgesses. The weights and measures used to enforce fair trading are displayed in this area, as are a growing number of local wills and deeds.
Inside Looe Museum, the fireplace, around which the worthies gathered, now houses an 18th century grate: the heart of a home. Children can handle objects from the 19th and 20th centuries that are displayed in and around the hearth.
Looe museum covers the social and economic history of Looe from early times to the present day. On the lower floor there are also several prehistoric artefacts from the area, notable a tooth from a Mastadon, similar to a mammoth, over two million years old, plus a collection of crystals and minerals.
Fishing has been a mainstay of the town for centuries and we have several displays of artefacts, model boats and even a pilchard press. In addition, there are a number of easy-to-follow folders on a range of related topics about the industry and the sea. We even have a “cat o’9 tails”. The area behind the museum is the old town, sometimes called the “back streets”. This dates from medieval times and, as part of our extensive photographic archive, we have images of the area from c 1870 as well as photos of West Looe, boats, ships and local people. We even have the old town stocks from the 18th century.