by Emma O’Connor, Museum Officer, 2013

The building known as Marlipins has been open to the public as a museum since 1923.  However the building is much older, dating from the early 12th century and it is believed to be one of the oldest surviving lay buildings in Sussex.

The original purpose of the building and the name Marlipins itself have long been puzzled over.  It is now thought the main purpose was as a secure building; a general toll or customs house for the market and port of Shoreham in the medieval period.  The building was clearly built to last with huge supporting timbers and distinctive flint and Caen stone chequerboard front.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries the building had a variety of uses including a bonded warehouse, toy shop and builder’s store.  In 1922 the building was put up for sale by the then owner Robert Gates. He agreed to sell the property to the Committee of the Marlipins Preservation Scheme.  The initial purchase cost was generously given by William Burstow.

There then followed a successful public campaign to raise further monies for the freehold and essential repairs, and the freehold purchase was completed on 12th November 1925.  It was also at this time that the building was vested in the Sussex Archaeological Society. 

Although the building had been open to the public since 1923 it was not until October 1926 that the building was officially opened as Marlipins Museum, displaying ‘antiquities and pictures of local interest’.

The Sussex Archaeological Society has continued to open the building as a museum since 1925 and with partnership funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund completed a significant development project in 2003.

The museum’s collections now include an important photographic and visual record of Shoreham and the surrounding area, material relating to the town’s maritime history, archaeology and social history items.

The Friends of Marlipins Museum are essential to the continued success of the museum.  Members of the Friends organisation volunteer throughout the year, helping with various areas of museum work and fundraising.  During the open season the Friends offer a welcome to all visitors and generously share their wealth of local knowledge and love of Marlipins Museum.

Please visit and support the work of the Friends of Marlipins Museum and help continue to preserve the building and museum, continuing the work that the Marlipins Preservation Scheme begun in 1923.

Painting of Marlipins

Historic item