CaP Collection of the Month

May 2022: Bow Street Police Museum

No 28 Bow Street was once home to one of London’s oldest police stations, and is now London’s newest Museum – Bow Street Police Museum! Situated in the heart of Theatreland and on the edge of Covent Garden, the Museum holds a fascinating history and takes visitors back to the early days of the Bow Street Runners and the Metropolitan Police Officers who followed in their footsteps.

There has been a policing presence on Bow Street since the mid-18th century when Sir Thomas de Veil set up a Magistrates’ Court in his residential home in 1741. After the establishment of the Bow Street Runners by subsequent resident Magistrate, Henry Fielding, operations quickly began to outgrow their initial premises, and in 1832 the pub across the road was acquired to house the Runners and detain the arrested. By 1881 the combined Police Station and Magistrates Court took up residence at the purpose-built No.28 Bow Street until 1992 and 2006 respectively. The Museum now resides within the complex of the NoMad London Hotel, with its own separate entrance on Martlett Court.

Displays at Bow Street Police Museum

Part of the former courtyard is now one of two exhibition spaces within the Museum. In this first room we tell the history of the policing on Bow Street and the various buildings occupied along this famous street. There are also objects that have been loaned to the Museum by the Metropolitan Police Heritage Service, as well as a replica Bow Street Runner Uniform.

Visitors can then venture down our cell corridor; the cells have been maintained and restored so they are not too dissimilar from when they were functioning Police Cells (although most former Officers report we have gotten rid of the smell!). The exhibition continues in each cell, focusing on different aspects of working life at the Police Station and adjoining Magistrates court and includes a video speaking to former Bow Street Officers.

Police timeline
Police Lamp on display at Bow Street Police Museum

You can find CaP’s previous Collections of the Month on the pages below.