Old Police Cells Museum

Free

The Old Police Cells Museum in the basement of Brighton’s Town Hall depicts crime and punishment in the Victorian era and also shows the evolution of policing in Sussex. The exhibits at the museum highlight some of Brighton’s more famous criminal cases.

The Old Police Cells Museum is located in the basement of Brighton Town Hall in Brighton, East Sussex. (Photo: Paul Gillett [CC BY-SA 2.0])
The Old Police Cells Museum is located in the basement of Brighton Town Hall in Brighton, East Sussex. (Photo: Paul Gillett [CC BY-SA 2.0])

What to see at the Old Police Cells Museum

The museum is set in the old police cells and all visitors must visit by guided tour. The tours are run by former police officers who are a fount of knowledge about the history of policing and who have a talent for bringing exhibits to life with anecdotes from their experience on the force.

Exhibits at the museum include the story about police officer Henry Solomon who was killed by a criminal in 1844 as well as exhibits about early Victorian attitudes toward violent crime. There is a display showing how the Sussex Police dealt with the IRA bombing of the Grand Hotel in 1984 that is particularly interesting.

Towards the end of the tour, you are able to try on real uniforms from different periods.

Visiting the Old Police Cells Museum

The museum is located in the basement of Brighton Town Hall in the heart of the city centre. Many other Brighton attractions are within a short five-minute walk of the museum. These include Brighton Palace Pier, the Brighton Fishing Museum, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, The Lanes, the Royal Pavilion and the SEA LIFE aquarium.

Visitors to the museum must go on a guided tour; however, the tours are excellent and you are able to get more out of your visit that you could possibly achieve if you were visiting independently. Tours are free of charge but donations are appreciated.

During the summer season (April–October), tours run Tueday–Saturday but during the winter season (November–March) they only operate on Saturdays.

As the tour involves several rather step staircases, it is not suitable for disabled visitors nor for other people with mobility issues.

Although the museum is quite small, the tours are informative and it is not unusual to spend around two hours on a tour.

Because the tours last so long, this is probably not the most child-friendly museum (unless your children are very patient). However, most children enjoy the opportunity to dress up in police uniforms at the end of the tour.

If you enjoyed this museum, you may also like to visit the City of London Police Museum, the Greater Manchester Police Museum, the Bradford Police Museum and the Prison and Police Museum in Ripon, North Yorkshire.

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