Cuming Museum

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The Cuming Museum

The Cuming Museum in Walworth Road in Elephant and Castle, within the London Borough of Southwark, London, England, was a museum housing the collection of the Cuming family and later collections on Southwark's history.[1] As of 2020, its collections are due to be rehoused in a new Southwark Heritage Centre.[2]

Richard Cuming (1777–1870) started his collecting life when he was only five with some fossils and a coin that had been given to him by a family friend. That ignited a passion for collecting, which lasted for his lifetime. He made his first significant purchases in 1806 at the sale of the Leverian Museum. His interests covered geology, scientific equipment and animalia.[3] The collection was bequeathed to the people of Southwark by his son, Henry Syer Cuming, in 1902, and the museum opened in 1906.[4] As described in Cuming's will, it comprised "My Museum illustrative of Natural History, Archaeology and Ethnology with my coins and medals and... other curios".[5]

The museum galleries were moved from the first floor of the Newington Public Library to the building next door, the former Walworth Town Hall, in 2006.[4] On 25 March 2013, that building was seriously damaged by fire, severely affecting the museum galleries but leading to only a very small loss from the collections. Around 98% of objects on display at the time of the fire were recovered and were placed in storage to await a solution to the display of the collections and public access to them.[6] The Cuming and local history collections are due to be re-displayed and stored at a new Southwark Heritage Centre under construction as part of the Lend Lease Elephant Park development at a new site at the north end of Walworth Road - it was due for completion by the end of 2020 but this has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.[2]


  1. ^ Cuming Museum, Culture 24, UK.
  2. ^ a b "New Southwark Heritage Centre and Walworth Library". Southwark Council. 15 October 2020. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  3. ^ "About the Cuming Museum". Southwark Council. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Cuming Museum". London SE1. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  5. ^ Pennick, Nigel etc (2016). The Secret Lore of London: The city's forgotten stories and mythology. Coronet. ISBN 978-1473620247.
  6. ^ Quinn, Ben (25 March 2013). "Hundreds of firefighters battle blaze at south London museum". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 March 2013.

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Coordinates: 51°29′27″N 0°05′50″W / 51.490804°N 0.097162°W / 51.490804; -0.097162