Chelmsford Museum tells the story of the development of Chelmsford by way of a number of exhibitions. The Story of Chelmsford exhibition takes the visitor on a journey in the Chelmer Valley from the Ice Ages to the present day, taking in the major archaeological monuments and sites in the district, as well as more recent history. These include: Ice Age mammal remains; the Neolithic cursus (a type of earthworks) at Chelmer Village; the Bronze Age earthwork at Springfield; Celtic and Roman gold coinage; the Roman fort and Town of Caesaromagus (with its mansion) at Moulsham; the foundation of the Norman new town of Chelmsford in 1199, shortly afterwards established as the County Town with the Assizes; the medieval Dominican Friary at Moulsham; Pleshey Castle; King John's Hunting Lodge at Writtle; the dominance of the Mildmay family; Chelmsford Cathedral ; Chelmsford in wartime; a model of the Marconi and Hoffman factories in New Street made by the Luftwaffe and found in a German airfield after World War II. There is also a reconstructed Victorian kitchen with a display of items used for cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing from the nineteenth century.
The Museum boasts a beautiful display of ceramics, fine Georgian glass, English pottery and contemporary pots from local artists. Ceramics on display include 17th-18th century tin glaze pottery ("English delft") and the unusual Victorian "Essex Art Pottery" made by Edward Bingham and his family at Castle Hedingham in North Essex. "The Chelmsford Sissies", a contemporary decorative and narrative pot by the Chelmsford-born Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry is also on display. He imagined a Civil War incident and created a modern cross-dressing illustration on the pot. This contrasts with the modern austerity of work by Joanna Constantinidis (1927-2000), a potter of international reputation who lived at Little Baddow and taught in Chelmsford from 1951 to 1989. Items on display include a large group of pieces she kept, acquired from her estate after her death. An impressive number of 18th century English drinking-glasses were bequeathed to the Museum in 1957 by Frederick Tunstill. His collection of Georgian stemmed wine and ale glasses includes scarce baluster stems and many other unusual pieces. Special items include a "Jacobite" glass engraved with roses and "fiat", and Dutch-engraved glasses including one attributed to Jacob Sang.
Two galleries upstairs tell the later history of Chelmsford and how people have spent their leisure time. There are displays on sports and athletics, highlighting some of the town’s sports people and teams including football, tennis, cricket and cycling. Robert Cook stands out as the man who dominated late 19th century sport in Essex. He founded the Essex County Cycling and Athletic Club, and the Essex Championships, which were perhaps the foremost athletic games of their day. You can find out about Chelmsford carnival and festivals. Music is strongly featured. The popular big bands of the day played in the town at venues such as the Odeon Ball Room and the Corn Exchange, supported by local groups such as the Embassy Orchestra. The early days of Rock ‘n Roll are celebrated highlighting local bands including Mark Shelley and the Deans. The story continues through the 1960s, Mods and to Punk and The Prodigy. Items on display include ‘boneshaker’ and Ordinary (or penny farthing) bicycles and a 1959 jukebox. There’s also dressing up for the children!
Chelmsford Museum and The Essex Regiment Museum sit at the heart of Oaklands Park in Chelmsford. Galleries and displays are shared between the Victorian Mansion and a stunning extension. The main entry to Chelmsford Museums is fully accessible with very gently ramped paviors through to fully automated doors. Once inside there is level access for the whole of the ground floor with lift access to the first floor. Doorways are wheelchair-accessible. Parking: Free parking for three hours. There are Baby changing facilities on site with a vending machine for cold drinks and snacks. Assistance dogs are welcome. They are happy to arrange handling sessions of artefacts for the visually impaired. Please contact them for information. There are limited hands-on interactive and sensory experiences in the museum displays. A portable induction loop and transaction aids are available at the information desk and a trained first aider is normally on site.
The Essex Regiment was an Infantry Regiment, one in which soldiers traditionally march everywhere carrying Musket (or Rifle) and bayonet. Linked with the County of Essex in 1782 (with origins in 1741), serving all over the world and having both Regular (full-time) and Volunteer (part-time) units. The Collections are loaned to Chelmsford City Council by the Trustees of the Essex Regiment Museum. The Essex Yeomanry was traditionally a mounted Regiment recruited within Essex, trained to fight invaders and to keep the peace, ready to be “embodied” for full time service in a national emergency. In more modern times the Yeomanry have taken on new roles as Artillerymen and Signallers. Again, the Collections are loaned to Chelmsford City Council by the Trustees of the Essex Yeomanry.
Throughout the year Sandford Mill holds a selection of events ranging from a celebration of Marconi to historical re-enactments and Science Experiments for all the family. Please check the events pages for more information on upcoming events. Chelmsford was once home to several major industries including: Marconi, who were the forerunners in developing both radio and television; Crompton, a major electrical engineering company; Hoffman, a manufacturer of bearings for a variety of products across the world. Much of Chelmsford Museums industrial collection is stored and displayed at Sandford Mill and is available to view during events. This includes the historic 1922 Writtle Hut from which Marconi made the first regular entertainment broadcasts. The Sandford Mill has fully accessible toilets and a nature reserve. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : Chelmsford Museums, Oaklands Park, Moulsham Street, Chelmsford, CM2 9AQ
Transport: Chelmsford (National Rail) then bus (1.25 miles). Bus Routes : 42, 42A, 52 and 100 stop outside.
Opening Times : Monday to Saturday 10:00 to 17:00; Sunday 13:00 to 16:00; Closed Termtime Fridays.
Tel: 01245 605700