Mersea Museum in 2017


The history of Mersea and the surrounding areas. The many exhibits include sections on Local History, Natural History, Social History, Marine and Geology.

The main exhibition is new every year.

Do you remember ?

- some Events that made the News

1897 Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee
Triplets born on Mersea.

1907 the Edwardian era
Grand plans for development on Mersea Island.
Marine Lake opened at Tollesbury.

1917 World War I
Local men lost, but home life continues.

1937 Coronation of King George VI
Yacht ENDEAVOUR missing in Atlantic with local men on board

1947 a hard winter, peacetime life returning

1957 Mehalah produced by Mersea Island Dramatic Club
A new Fire Engine for the Island.

1967 Automatic Telephone Exchange. Pirate Radio controlled.

1987 - the Hurricane
Much damage on the Island. Houses lost their walls and roofs.
Caravans and beach huts wrecked. Trees down.

Paddington Bear
Peggy Fortnum, who illustrated the Paddington Bear books, died last year. She lived on Mersea for many years.
To hear an interview with Peggy Fortnum Click Here

Mersea Island Lions Club
Celebrating the Centenery of Lions International in Great Britain.

Summer 2017 exhibition - Mehalah in front of the cottage
1937 Coronation Arch at bottom of Langenhoe Hill
Mersea Island Lions Club Charter Members.
1987 Hurricane damage in Kingsland Road, West Mersea
August 2014 the urn, bones and lead box from the Barrow, now back on Mersea.
April 2016 the urn, child's bones and tile from the Roman brick tomb, now back on Mersea.
Ice in the river and creeks January 1947
Mussett triplets born May 1897
Tom Marriage, died of wounds 5 May 1917
Queen's Mersea Estate 1907
Paddington Bear illustrated by Peggy Fortnum.

Local History

Roman Amphora dredged up from the estuaryA changing selection of pictures, maps, photographs and postcards show the history of Mersea and its residents from the 19th Century. The beach hut illustrates a feature of holidays in Mersea that is close to many people's hearts. The section also includes Archaeological finds such as Roman remains, tiles and pottery. Bellamine and Martabani Jars (17th Century) and Amphora (Roman Vase) are also on show.

Summer 2014 - farming, boatbuilding, seaside, beach hut

Natural History

Wildlife of the local marshes and mudflats. Some of the birds, shellfish and fish to be found in the marshes, mudlflats, creeks and sea around Mersea Island.

Saltings display

Farming, Fishing, Oyster Cultivation

Farming, Fishing and Oysters were the mainstay of the island's economy for many years and continue to thrive.Oyster dredging in recent yearsHerring. Chris StopfordFrank Marriage and Blossom at Weir Farm, c1930

Social History

Mersea Museum Fisherman's cottage - the wash houseA large section of the Museum with exhibits covering more than two centuries.

The reconstruction of a typical weather-boarded fisherman's cottage is centred on a Victorian coal-fired kitchen range, with adjoining facilities for washing clothes using old-fashioned manual equipment. It helps to create the 'Old Mersea' atmosphere, together with many articles used by local people in earlier times.

Mersea Museum Fisherman's Cottage


Oyster smack BOADICEA CK213 was built in 1808 in Maldon and is still going strongModels of boats and local craft, together with old fishing equipment and boat building tools. Photographs of smacks at work, yachts, houseboats, barges.

The Museum holds a fine 1919 Punt made locally by William Wyatt complete with its original gun, used in Mersea for many years.

On display is a West Mersea One Design dinghy from 1930 with shipwright tools. The dinghy is the KALI, later renamed BUZZING BEE. She was bought by John Leather about 45 years ago and is still owned by the Leather Family.

The John Leather Memorial Collection contains John's library of books, boat plans, research papers and photographs.


Fossil and fossilized material drawn from a wide range of locations, together with a collection of rocks and minerals, are on display including crystals and ore deposits, and all are well documented.

Family History

We have copies of parish records and other information and so are able to answer many family history queries. Family trees have been built for several well-known Mersea families. A database is being built containing names from Mersea and surrounding parishes recorded in parish records, tithe maps, baptism records and censuses.


The Museum has over 35,000 historic photographs which can be displayed on computers in the Resource Centre. The collection covers Mersea and the surrounding area, local people, fishing,oystering, shipping, barges, smacks, farming yachting and more. Most of the photographs in the John Leather Memorial Collection have now been digitised and can be viewed.
An audio-visual slide show on Mersea runs in the main museum and other themed slideshows can be run in the Resource Centre.
Berry's bus waiting outside the White Hart, West Mersea, before 1911

For Children...

Mersea Museum - young visitorsWe have a variety of picture quizzes, puzzles, sketching activities etc. around the Museum for children (and for adults).
Special visits are organised for schools and other groups.
Mersea Museum - young visitors

Copyright Mersea Island Museum Trust 2017