The building itself dates from 1816 and was the town house of newly-weds, Thomas and Charlotte Cooke. In 1856 the Priestgate mansion was sold to the 3rd Earl Fitzwilliam, who allowed it to be used as the city's first hospital, the Peterborough infirmary from 1857 until 1928. This impressive Georgian building became the museum in 1931 and the art gallery was added in 1939.
Many of the original Georgian features can still be seen today, as can traces of its use as a hospital - our modern conservation room is the old operating theatre!
The Museum is also reputed to be haunted. It is believed the ghost is that of a First World War Australian Soldier, Sergeant Thomas Hunter, who is said to haunt the staircase. This man was wounded in the war, brought back to Britain, and died in the building in July 1916. His grave can still be seen in the Broadway cemetery in Peterborough.
In 1871 the Peterborough Natural History Society and Field Club began assembling the museum collections. Various buildings have housed the museum during its history. Within a decade the society had widened its interest and laid the foundation of a museum and a library. It became the Natural History, Scientific and Archaeological Society and in 1947 took its modern title of Museum Society.