Mersea Museum in 2020

The Museum is closed until further notice. The draft details below were for the planned 2020 exhibition which is now unlikely to take place in this form.


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

Digging into the Past

WW1 Memorial Soldiers and Sailors
Two of the 51 soldiers and sailors who lined the Strood in 2019 are now on display at the Museum.

Found on beach
Bones found in recent years - Iron Age skull, Bison, Wild Boar, Mammoth, Sperm Whale ...
Red Hills, Fish traps

Essex Native Oyster Restoration Initiative (ENORI)
A number of organisations working with local oystermen to build the Native Oyster into a sustainable fishery.
The past year has been a year of progress.

Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network (CITiZAN)
Local volunteers working with CITiZAN to document finds on the foreshore.

Archaeological excavation in East Mersea
An excavation Sept 2019 in a field with crop circles found a Bronze Age cemetery and cremation urns.A joint project between CITiZAN and Univeristy College London, with funding from the Society of Antiquaries.

World War 2
The local area through WW2.
- Women's Land Army
- Dig for Victory
- Make Do and Mend
- The wartime kitchen
- Air Raid Precautions and Blackout
- Local men lost

The Board Walk
Timbers from what is thought to be a Bronze Age board walk were found in the mud off Mersea in 2017. Since then they have undergone a preservation process, and will soon be on display in the Museum.
See In the mud

Waiting for the Summer exhibition
Bomb damage in The Square 1940
Dig at East Mersea Sept 2019
School gardening c1930
Bison bones found East Mersea 2011
Memorial soldier and sailor at Mersea Museum
Oyster dredging
Land Girls at Bower Hall Farm
Board walk timbers found off Coopers Beach
Valor Perfection oil cooker

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 45,000 historic photographs and documents 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