The old town of Poole is on the shores of one of the world’s greatest natural harbours so It is understandable that it always looked to the sea. Poole probably originated as a small fishing settlement in early Norman times but by 1248 it was prosperous enough to purchase a charter of rights from the Lord of the Manor.
This prosperity was based on foreign trade. From many places in Europe came cargoes such as wine, salt and iron while the main export was woollen cloth. Archaeological excavations here have also uncovered large amounts of foreign pottery, glass and coins.
The timbers in front of you are a relic of this trade. This is the Studland Bay Wreck found near the entrance to Poole Harbour. Study of the ship and its contents suggest that it was built around 1520 in northern Spain. In this display you can see some of the evidence that allowed us to interpret the wreck.
Poole has some great buildings from the same period as this wreck. In fact the ancient Town Cellars are part of this Museum - now housing the Poole History Centre. Across from the Museum is Scaplen's Court, a fine courtyard building dating back to the early 14th century.
Some buildings have been lost,such as the Ship Inn which once stood on the site of this Museum. Two of the hammer beams that used to decorate its roof are on this floor. Look for them – they have faces carved on their ends.