The building which houses the museum dates from c1450, and after extensive research by Michael Maddock, the opinion is that the original building was a stone walled ground floor with an overhanging, timber framed upper floor and external gable-end staircase from c.1450, i.e. always two floors.

After the 1587 Charter, granted to East Looe by Queen Elizabeth 1st, the timber top storey was rebuilt, cells were added, and the staircase moved to the front. The Guildhall became a magistrate’s court, council chamber and Gaol.

The Start of a New Era

In 1878 the New Guildhall was opened in the centre of Looe, and the original building became a reading room upstairs with caretaker’s accommodation on the ground floor. The building is grade 2 star listed. In the WI report of 1960, the Old Guildhall was reported as being open between 1945 and 1960, but no dates are given. The whole building was completely restored in 1972 by Mr. M. Maddocks, his original notes and records being held in the museum archives.

The Museum’s first displays in 1974, were the Town’s regalia items which are still there today. Several items were added when Mr. Paynter’s Old Cornwall museum, located elsewhere in Looe, closed, these included the Looe Stocks, smuggling artefacts, and four original paintings by Samuel Cook. The collection has continued to expand over the years and is now accredited under the Museums Registration Scheme and Collections Policy.

All New Displays

We are delighted to announce that at the Cornwall Museums Heritage Awards, we were awarded the Heritage Heroes and Leader of the Year awards. We have a great volunteer team and this is a great acknowledgement of their hard work.

In July we will be adding a Media Wall downstairs in the museum, which will allow our visitors to listen to six whispering portraits of prisoners in the Gaol, and to decide whether they are guilty or not. We are holding Community workshops to create the stories behind the prisoners and are delighted to have young people in Looe involved with this project.

Our displays include the history of the Canal and Railway in Looe, a display of the Raddy cameras and several displays of the Raddy photographs throughout the museum, as well as a Royal Kings and Queens Quiz for children.

All are very welcome to our museum and we have disabled access via a ramp downstairs, where there is a tour of the upstairs on the television screen. Dogs are also very welcome on a lead and we have our dressing up clothes for children again, so they can act out our Court plays with their families!

Please remember that we are all volunteers at the museum, and there are times when the museum might not be open due to illness.

2024 Season Opening Hours

April 1st – October 29th

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 11.00 – 16.00

Saturday and Sunday 11.00 – 13.30

Adults £3, Children Free (Dogs welcomed on a lead)


Visit our website where you can look at our Galleries and Raddy Collection of photographs.


The Old Guildhall Museum – Looe

Higher Market Street
East Looe
PL13 1BW

01503 263709