Located where the Esplanade meets Market Street and occupying the ground floor of Watchet’s former Market House, is Watchet Market House Museum.
The Market House is a two-storied stone building which was constructed during 1819-20 with open arches to the ground floor and an open staircase at its west end to the upper floor, under which was the Court Leet lock-up. The market was held on Saturdays and continued until the 1830s. The ground floor was later converted to a shop and from the 1920s the upper floor was used as a mission church, now known as Holy Cross Chapel.
The Museum focuses on Watchet and its maritime history. It presents fossils, Roman, Saxon and Viking relics found locally. Some wonderful artefacts, paintings, photographs, etc, depicting Watchet’s colourful history can be seen in the Museum and a varied selection of books of local interest, postcards, etc are also available.
Watchet is very fortunate in its geology, lying on local lias rocks, set down 200-215 million years ago, for within these rocks are a variety of fossils. The Museum is able to display a wide selection of locally-found fossils, many picked up by people walking on the foreshore. Ammonites and Gryphaea are abundant, and fossilised coral, fish, oysters and plants are also represented amongst the collection. A star attraction within the display is a near complete lchthyosaur, a marine creature that swum in the warm seas that were Somerset millions of years ago. Recent finds include a Plesiosaur rib bone discovered in 2008 along the shoreline near Warren Bay, and vertebrae and coprolites from the same species.
The museum is open from March to October, 10.30am – 4.30pm daily - see website for confirmation of times
There is no admission charge, but donations are gratefully accepted to help meet expenses.
New lower display cases make the collections more accessible to children and the disabled. A portable ramp can be deployed to aid access for wheelchair users and improved handrails make it easier for the disabled to enter.