The first recorded owner of this fine building was James Parker, an English sea-captain who served Plymouth as Mayor in 1601, however it is thought that there was probably a building on the site from at least the early 1500s and that Parker enlarged and embellished the earlier structure. Said to have been in Drake’s fleet against the Armada, Parker was also a privateer and in 1596 successfully plundered from the Spanish in the Caribbean, capturing a ship with £5,000 worth of silver. Just two months after becoming Mayor in 1601 he set off on another even more profitable venture, taking Porto Bello, sacking St Vincent and capturing two frigates from the Spanish treasure fleet.
Home to at least three other Plymouth Mayors in the eighteenth century, the building served as a pram factory, taxi office, shop, and shoe repairers prior to its acquisition by Plymouth City Council in the 1970s. The building had been condemned and was due for demolition but an extensive five year period of refurbishment followed and in 1978 the ‘Merchant’s House Museum’ was opened to the public, with displays of varying aspects of Plymouth’s past. These currently include a remarkable reconstruction of a Victorian pharmacy and a Victorian classroom.
The Merchant’s House, 33 St Andrews Street, Plymouth, PL1 2AX
Tel: +44 (0) 1752 304774 Fax: +44 (0) 1752 304775