The history centre for the Isle of Ely & the Fens, Ely Museum tells the story of the area from the Jurassic period to the 20th century.
Two floors of permanent displays take visitors on a journey through the Isle and surrounding district’s past, spanning the formation of the Fens and the first inhabitants to the two World Wars and comprising around 4000 items, mostly donated by local people.
The building itself is also of interest, consisting of two main parts including a Grade II listed stone and brick construction which housed the Bishop of Ely’s gaol from c1679 until 1836 (the paved yard was once the prison yard). The earliest record of a building on the site is in a 1417 survey of Ely, while it is thought that the building was primarily a living space in the 15th and 16th centuries and may have been a tavern in the early 17th century.
A programme of temporary exhibitions accompanies the permanent displays, which include original prison cells as well as fossils that visitors are welcome to handle, Roman remains and archive film.