The Shell Museum, Glandford, is the oldest purpose-built museum in Norfolk and houses the finest seashell collection in the UK. As well as thousands of exquisite seashells, the Museum also contains fossils, birds’ eggs, pottery, local archaeological finds and much more.
Glandford Shell Museum
An early Guide to the County of Norfolk describes the little village of Glandford in these words: “Nature could hardly stage a more delightful scene. Its church is a jewel set in a garden on the hill, looking over the wooded valley where the River Glaven flows to the sea. Below it is a rare little museum for all who love beautiful things… Now everything here is as beautiful as the skill of our time could make it.”
All who have visited Glandford will agree that the above is a very fitting description of the village. The church is certainly very lovely and the museum is, in its way, as beautiful as the church. It is a small building with Dutch gables, and was built in 1915 by the late Sir Alfred Jodrell, Baronet, of Bayfield Hall, in a style to harmonise with the rest of the village. The work was carried out by workmen employed on the Bayfield Estate under the direction of Mr Thomas Holbrook, a churchwarden of the parish church.
ÒThe Shell Museum remains one of the few descendants of the cabinet of curiosities. Every object in this unique museum of natural and contrived curiosities suggests a story.Ó
The original purpose of the museum was to house a collection of shells made over a period of sixty years by the late Sir Alfred Jodrell himself and stored in boxes at Bayfield Hall until the museum was built. After completion, Sir Alfred and his sisters, Lady Seale, and Mrs Ind arranged the whole of the shells in their cases. These shells come from all corners of the earth, and the collection is constantly being added to. There are shells of every hue, shells as delicately coloured as butterfly wings; shells exquisitely carved.
But there are other exhibits besides the shells which form the main collection. There are lovely jewels, fragments of old pottery, a piece of Pompeii, a sugar bowl used by Queen Elizabeth I, some very fine specimens of agate ware, and a collection of items uncovered in the vicinity of Glandford including a very exceptional axehead. There is also an evocative tapestry executed by a local fisherman, John Craske, depicting the North Norfolk Coast. The Shell Museum remains one of the few descendants of the cabinet of curiosities. Every object in this unique museum of natural and contrived curiosities suggests a story. The most pleasing exhibits are those that stretch the shelly theme such as a tiny wooden barrel, no more than six centimetres high: “made from teak of HMS Warspite – a ship which was involved in the Battle of Trafalgar”.
In fact, it would be difficult to describe fully the whole contents of the museum. A visit is essential to enjoy its unique flavour.
Museum open from Easter Saturday until
the end of October
Open Tuesday to Saturday
10am to 12.30pm and
2pm to 4.30pm
Closed Sunday and Monday
Open on Bank Holidays
Winter opening – groups welcome by prior appointment
- Accepts Groups
- Accepts Credit Cards