Peterborough is a city steeped in a history which dates all the way back to Roman times. Since then, it’s been shaped by settlements and revolutions, turning it into one of the most important areas of the UK. Nowhere pays homage to this more than the city’s various museums and galleries.
If you’re interested in the history of the UK, you won’t want to miss a key place in the country’s development. These are the best museums in Peterborough, spanning the ancient and the modern.
It’s fitting that Peterborough Museum itself is one of the city’s most historic buildings – a Victorian construction located just a few minutes away from the train station. Inside, it’s home to over 200,000 artefacts of national and international importance, from Jurassic sea monsters to Britain’s oldest murder victim. Interactive displays create a modern feel to the museum, making it fun for the whole family. Make sure you visit the old operation theatre to experience what surgery was like in Victorian times.
How to get there: It’s just a five-minute walk from Peterborough train station.
Facilities and activities: Exhibitions, walks and tours, escape rooms, art gallery, prestige vaults, school programme, café, shop, garden.
John Clare Cottage
John Clare Cottage is a small museum in the village of Helpston which pays homage to John Clare, who lived there between 1793 and 1832. Clare is widely regarded as one of the country’s greatest ever poets, and the cottage pays homage to that, with examples of his work and information about his life. The rooms and gardens have also been restored to the 19th century style in which he would have lived, making it a step back into early 1800s life.
How to get there: It’s a 30-minute bus journey from Peterborough train station.
Facilities and activities: Gardens, art installation, shop, café.
If you’re searching for some more local history to dive into, Whittlesey Museum is a must-visit. Founded in 1976, the museum collects and cares for the natural heritage of Whittlesey and its surrounding areas – not far from Peterborough. It covers the social history and development of the area, including the forge and agricultural equipment which supported the local economy. It also features exhibitions that showcase unique parts of the town’s history, and hosts events for the local community.
How to get there: It’s a 35-minute bus journey from Peterborough train station.
Facilities and activities: Events, exhibitions, educational facilities, walks, archives.
Thorney Museum is another step back into what life was like in Cambridgeshire hundreds of years ago. The site on which it’s built was once a medieval abbey before it took on other purposes, such as a model village and a drainage centre for the Fens. All of this history is explained in detail within the museum, as well as a more modern look at life in Thorney, from its part in World War I to today. Regular events and exhibitions are held in Thorney Museum, while guided tours can give you a bit more detail into the fascinating history of the town.
How to get there: It’s a 25-minute bus journey from Peterborough train station.
Facilities and activities: Events, exhibitions, guided tours, shop.
If you want to take a step back even further in time, Flag Fen is a Bronze Age site that was developed around 3,500 years ago and is open for visits today. The ancient village gives an incredible view into the livelihoods of its inhabitants all those centuries ago, with reconstructed roundhouses and early examples of man-made machinery. A children’s play area, café, and wildlife roaming around the park make it ideal for the whole family.
How to get there: It’s a 20-minute bus journey followed by another 20 minutes of walking.
Facilities and activities: Exhibitions, shop, school programme, walks and tours, café.
If you’re planning a trip to Peterborough, don’t forget to book an Advance ticket via our website or our Train Tickets app for zero booking fees. You can also find information on how to get cheaper train tickets via our special offers page. If you need more information, you can contact us here.