Elizabethan House Museum
70 Fore Street
Devon TQ9 5RU
Totnes local history museum is housed in a magnificent Tudor merchant’s house in the centre of town near the East Gate Arch.
Beautiful 16th Century Half Timbered Building
This beautiful half-timbered home built about 1575, still retains many of its Elizabethan features and has been painstakingly restored. There are 13 rooms spread over 3 floors to explore; you get to them by climbing a traditional ‘Devon Pole Staircase’. This is a spiral staircase built around a strong spar of wood. It is thought that the 'spar' was originally a mast on an Elizabethan sailing ship, possibly a 'man o' war'.
Several of the rooms are furnished with Elizabethan and Jacobean furniture demonstrating what life was like during these periods. The Fore Hall is remarkable for its garderobe (toilet), a feature which would have been particularly rare during this period. The Tudor kitchen is captured in the middle of preparing a meal. There is also a cobbled courtyard and Elizabethan herb garden.
Other rooms have fine exhibits of Saxon coins minted in Totnes, a Civil War hoards and coins of King Edward I. A Victorian nursery has been re-created.
Exhibitions are devoted to two famous local citizens: Charles Babbage, the inventor of the precursor to the modern computer, spent his early years in Totnes and studied at the Totnes Grammar School. Remarkably diverse in his thinking he proposed such things as insurance, an improved postal service, the submarine and devised a flashing signal light which led to the modern lighthouse.
Explorer William John Wills of 'Burke & Wills' fame born in Totnes
Australians will be interested to learn that William John Wills, explorer who died with Robert O’Hara Burke while crossing Australia from South to North in 1861, was born in Totnes.
Five thousand years of local history is present in this splendid building. It is also a Devon Records Office archive containing maps, wills, deeds and other historical documents to assist researchers and family history devotees.
Plan Your Visit
Accommodation - Search & Book through Expedia here: External Link
Opening Dates & Times
Monday to Friday: 10:30 – 16:00 (last entry at 15:00)
Check museum website for up to date information.
A joint ticket giving access to the ancient Guildhall is available.
Check museum website for up to date prices and concessions.
Toilets including for the disabled.
Shop. Audio and Visual Guides available.
Due to the age of this building, wheelchairs can only access the lower floor.
Guide dogs are permitted.
Contact & Further Information
+44 (0)1803 863 821
Elizabethan House Museum External Link
There is an excellent map showing the location of this museum on their website
- By Public Transport
If you are arriving by train follow the signs to the city centre. Walk uphill along Station Road, then turn right into Fore Street. The museum is on the left hand side of Fore Street just before the East Gate Arch.
If you have arrived by ferry, walk along Steamer Quay road and turn left across the bridge, following the signs to the city centre. Walk uphill along Fore Street until you see the museum close to the East Arch Gate.
If you are arriving by bus, alight at The Plains and walk up Fore Street. The museum is just before the East Gate Arch on the left.
- By Car
Follow street signs to the (preferably long stay) car parks and walk towards the main street. Walk uphill. The museum is just before the East Gate Arch on the left hand side and is an unmistakably Tudor building.
Google Maps - Elizabethan House Museum