A Brief History of the Museum

Totnes Museum is set in a beautifully restored Elizabethan merchant's house built in the 16th century.


The Elizabethan building is arguably the most important object in our collection and is a Grade I listed building. From the size and quality of the house, it is obvious the owner was prosperous.


Totnes enjoyed great wealth from the mid-1500's until the mid-1600's and Historians note Totnes as the second richest town in Devon at the time. This wealth allowed many of the town's merchants to build fine houses. Several houses from this period remain throughout Totnes High Street and Fore Street. However, many of these are now hidden behind facades and shop fronts built over the passing centuries.



As the wealth of the town declined and time moved on our building would take on a variety of roles.


After having been owned by the Crown during the Civil War the building eventually returned to being private residence. In 1764 the house became the Eugene Inn and remained an inn for many years. By 1871 solicitor George Presswell lived here with his family. In 1910 the building was sold and became the Elizabethan Cafe.




In 1957 the building was in a poor condition and bought by Totnes Borough Council. They restored it to its former glory and converted the building into a museum.


Totnes Elizabethan House & Museum opened in 1961 to share Totnes' fascinating heritage with the public. Today the museum is an independent charitable institution, the Totnes Museum Trust. We work tirelessly to celebrate the stories, lives, objects and histories of Totnes to inspire the future.

Totnes Museum,

70 Fore Street,



TQ9  5RU

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