This charming little museum sits in Market Street at the bottom of Lynton High Street and is clearly signposted throughout the town. It’s housed in the beautifully renovated 16th century St Vincent’s Cottage complete with whitewashed walls and a small but well tended garden.
As I wandered through the front gateway into the garden, an elderly chap was sat on the bench with a cup of tea and the crossword from the local paper. “ G’morning”, he bade me, “first customer of the day”, which I found amazing seeing as it was early afternoon. Maybe people don’t do museums any more….?
I paid my entrance fee and wandered inside to find a treasure trove of objects all depicting the history of the twin towns. A large upturned chest on the floor had a newspaper cutting on it from long ago telling the story of the cottage and the hauntings that occur inside on a regular basis that have caused most of the previous owners to sell up and move on.
The two large downstairs rooms contain all types of basic housewares from the 16th century onwards. Pots, pans, porcelain, pottery, bellows, bed-warmers, glassware and so on all sitting somewhat haphazardly arranged around the huge old open hearth. The shelf in front of the bay window is festooned with flat irons, cheese presses, kitchen tongs and all manner of utensils. Across the hallway is the tool room which has a wonderful collection of carpentry tools dating back more than 300 years. In the corner of this room, at the base of the stairs is a glass cabinet containing a display of porcelain and other artifacts from the early years of the 20th century
The rickety staircase takes you up to the first floor which has three smaller rooms devoted almost exclusively to books, maps, charts and pictures of the twin towns across the centuries, many of them painted by local artists. There is also a small section that deals with the flood disaster of 1952 although that topic is thoroughly catalogued and illustrated in the Flood Memorial Hall down in Lynmouth. One of the rooms is devoted to the nautical side of life and you will find a ship’s figurehead along with charts, compasses, sextants, rigging, ship’s wheels and sections of masts, no doubt from one of the many herring boats that fished from the harbour here.
To the rear of the picture room upstairs is the third room, really no more than a recess. This is the haunted room and contains mainly children's toys including a fully furnished Victorian doll’s house.
I spent maybe an hour looking around, discovering more and more each time I looked a little more closely. It certainly is a lovely little museum and should be on everyone’s itinerary when visiting the towns. I went back downstairs to where the “curator” was still engrossed in his crossword and thanked him profusely for this invaluable insight into the history of the area.
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