Sparrows Nest originally formed the grounds and formal gardens to the early 19th century thatched summer residence of Robert Sparrow, a local wealthy landowner. The local council bought the gardens in the 1890s. The gardens became a popular venue for concerts and, in 1913, the Borough of Lowestoft commissioned the 1300-seat Pavilion Theatre in the gardens.
The museum building was built by the Royal Navy as an extension to the house following the commandeering of the site as the headquarters and central depot for the Royal Naval Patrol Service in September 1939. The thatched two storey residence was demolished by the local authority in the 1960s, leaving the brick and concrete extensions which now form the Lowestoft War Memorial Museum, the Royal Naval Patrol Service Museum and a café.
Prior to its restoration in the 1990s, the building had become dilapidated, with a downstairs room (once used as a Suffolk Wildlife Trust office) being in a reasonable condition, but the upstairs room, that had been used to store theatrical props, needing a lot of work. Funds for the refurbishment of the building, which cost £23,000, were largely raised by Jack Rose, through the sales of his local history books and by his popular slide shows.
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