History and restoration


Elizabethan House has witnessed over 400 years of history. Find out more and learn more about its major restoration.

The date of the house's first known recorded owner is 1631, and the last recorded owner relinquished their deeds in 1926. The house was then saved from demolition and opened in 1930 as a visitor attraction.

A home to merchants, businessmen, fishermen, washerwomen and dressmakers, throughout the last four centuries the house - with its timber frame, bare wooden floors, oak beams, spiral staircase and earth plaster walls - has stood almost unaltered, while the fortunes of those living and working around the Barbican have risen and fallen.

The house survived the Blitz as well as extensive slum clearances in the early 1900s. It's been closed since 2015 for essential restoration and re-interpretation. The project has resolved a number of long-term issues with the property and created a brand new immersive experience for residents and visitors to enjoy.

Works have included:

  • A detailed structural investigation to assess the condition of the property.
  • Repair work to the external structure and oak timbers.
  • A programme of works to strengthen the floors and foundations.
  • Adding a two-storey extension at the rear to provide additional space and support the deteriorated rear wall of the property.
  • An archaeological survey of the site and items such as glass, ceramics, marbles and animal bones uncovered.
  • Reconstruction of the tiered garden and boundary wall.
  • Authentic decoration of the rooms.
  • Development of the interpretation to create an immersive experience, transporting visitors through time.

The restoration of Elizabethan House has been supported by Plymouth City Council, Mayflower 400, National Lottery Heritage Fund, Coastal Revival Fund, Historic England and The Pilgrim Trust.