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.
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.
New for 2021
We are very excited to announce that we will have two new displays this year with thanks to the Coastal Communities Wave grant.
The first will be a wooden model of Looe Island which will have AR points which will tell the story of the Island in 1160, including the building of the chapels on the Island and on the mainland at Lamanna, the Benedictine life on the Island and its link to Glastonbury, as well as the many stories of Joseph of Arimathea visiting the Island as a tin trader.
The second display will be an immersive Smuggling display, which will invite you to make your own decisions about the ‘rights and wrongs’ of smuggling, as well as showing a timeline of the Island and the rising of the sea over the years.
These displays are a wonderful addition to our museum, and we look forward to introducing our visitors to these new stories of Looe.