Looe became an important town during the Middle Ages and also during the French Wars.
The Old Guildhall in Higher Market Street was built around 1500. This building now
houses the Town Museum.
The original ground floor dates from 1450 and was used as a Meeting House for the
merchants of Looe. The upper floor was added around 1500.
In 1587 Queen Elizabeth I granted a Charter to East Looe which gave the small Borough
to have its first Mayor and corporation, and the right to hold a Magistrates Court,
and also to hold prisoners. The pillory can still be seen in the porch under the
gable, with holes for two hands and two heads.
Thomas Bond, historian of Looe, records the use of Cages for punishment.
“At East Looe Hannah Whit and Bessy Niles, two women of fluent tongue, having exerted
their oratory on each other, at last thought it prudent to leave the matter in dispute
to be settled by the Mayor. Away they posted to his worship. The first who arrived
had scarce begun her tale when the other bounced in in full rage, and began hers
likewise, and abuse commenced with redoubled vigour. His worship, Mr. John Chubb,
ordered the constable to be called, and each of the combatants thought her antagonist
was going to be punished, and each thought right. When the constable arrived, his
worship pronounced the following command to him. ‘Take these two women to the cage,
and there keep them till they have settled their dispute’.”
They were immediately conveyed to the cage, and after a few hours of confinement
became “as quiet and inoffensive beings as ever breathed”, and were then liberated
to beg Mr. Mayor’s pardon.
In 1878 a new Town Hall was built in East Looe. It is a dignified Victorian building
with an imposing clock tower, public rooms, with ornate stained glass windows.