Old Guildhall Museum & Gaol // Looe

Old Guildhall Museum and Gaol / Photo © Jo Turner
Old Guildhall - East Looe

Looe's town museum is located in the 15th century Old Guildhall on the main street to East Looe's sea front. Inside you will find fascinating displays about historic Looe focusing on fishing, boat building and, of course, smuggling.

The Old Guildhall building itself is worth a visit as it retains many of its original five century old features including the original prison cells, along with prisoners (OK, not real ones!). From 1587 to 1878, the building was the East Looe town hall with the magistrates court on the upper floor. Today you can still see the original raised magistrates bench complete with the royal coat of arms.

It was here, under the impressive timber-framed roof, that local laws were made and enforced and the town was administered. Exhibits here include the weights and measures used to enforce fair trading in those days.

Inside the museum proper is the main collection of historical objects. These include toys, domestic equipment, military regalia, porcelain, models and plenty more to interest for all the family. Many of the objects from the 19th and 20th centuries can be picked up and handled by children to get a real feel of history.

Downstairs are a number of more ancient exhibits with several prehistoric artefacts from the area, notably a tooth from a mastadon which is over two million years old, plus a small collection of crystals and minerals.

Looe museum also covers the social and economic history of the town. Much of this centres around fishing and there several displays of artefacts, model boats, a pilchard press and even a "cat o'nine tails".