History of the Elizabethan House Museum

Pigs head on a table in the dining room

This charming merchant’s house, on the quayside in Great Yarmouth, was built around 1596 by Benjamin Cowper. Over the years the building has been subject to various alterations and changes of use until it was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1949.

The Elizabethan House is located at the heart of ‘Heritage Quarter,’ only a short walk away from other sites of historic interest.
Explore the 'Heritage Quarter' 


You’ll find information about the house and the individual rooms on display and our knowledgeable staff can tell you more about the history of the local area. We also offer a virtual DVD tour of the house for less mobile visitors.

Oliver Cromwell

The house is famous for its connections with Oliver Cromwell who is said to have frequently visited his friend, John Carter, a prominent local merchant who purchased the house from Benjamin Cowper in 1635. The premises became a regular meeting place for Parliamentarians during the Civil War and it is here, allegedly, in November 1648 that the fate of Charles I was decided.

The museum today

From 1667 some 14 different families lived in the house. In 1870, it was bought by the Aldred family and remained in their possession until the eldest daughter Mary Aldred bequeathed it to the National Trust. Her sister Blanche remained the tenant until her death in 1949. Norfolk Museums Service now manage the museum.

Delve deeper

If you’d like to find out more about the museum or explore our archives at this and other museums in Great Yarmouth visit our website or email us.
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