A Short History of Marlipins Museum

The distinctive flint and Caen stone chequerboard façade of Marlipins has been a landmark in New Shoreham since the 12th century. Now a museum, its collections are focused on local material, particularly items that represent Shoreham’s rich maritime history.

Timeline

  • 12th century – Estimate of when Marlipins was built
  • 1346 – First deeds for ‘Malduppine’ recorded
  • 1923 – Formation of the Marlipins Preservation Scheme and building purchased by public subscription
  • 1925 – Marlipins transferred to The Sussex Archaeological Society
  • 1926 – Marlipins becomes a museum
  • 1950 – Marlipins is Grade II listed

A 12th century wine warehouse

Timber analysis has confirmed that Marlipins dates from the 12th century, making it the oldest secular building in Sussex, and one of the oldest in the England.

Deeds in 1346 record a building – then called ‘Malduppine’ – situated in the ‘Otmarcat’ – oat market.

There has been much speculation about the origin of the name Marlipins and the buildings’ intended purpose.

It is thought that Marlipins was originally a warehouse for wine and ale, and ‘Marlipins’ is derived from ancient words associated with taxes.

Chequerboard frontage

The distinctive stone frontage of Marlipins is a later addition to the building, added between the late 13th and early 14th century.

It uses Caen stone, a creamy-yellow Jurassic limestone from France, alternating with flint.

Caen stone was a popular material throughout the country from the 11th century onwards, also used to build Canterbury Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London.

Bought for £500 in 1923

By 1867 the building was owned by the Gates family and was used as a store and workshop for their timber business. They offered it for sale ‘at a favourable price’ in 1922 on the condition that its architectural features were preserved.

In 1923, a group of interested individuals formed the Marlipins Preservation Scheme and the building was eventually secured through public subscription for £500.

The building opened for the public to view the building interior in the summer of 1923.

Transferred to The Sussex Archaeological Society in 1925

In 1925, Marlipins was transferred to the Society ‘without a single ancient feature being disturbed’.

A period of fundraising was undertaken in order to make repairs and to fit the building out as a permanent museum and exhibitions space.

In October 1926, Marlipins was formally inaugurated as a museum ‘for the housing and exhibition of antiquities and pictures of local interest’.

Marlipins Museum today

Marlipins remains a museum, with collections and displays focusing on local material; particularly on items that represent Shoreham’s rich maritime history.

Visit Marlipins Museum