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The Friends of Chelmsford Museums

Registered Charity No. 1106243

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Chelmsford Museum

Chelmsford Museum is in Oaklands Park, Moulsham Street (CM2 9AQ). It is owned by Chelmsford City Council and managed by Parks and Heritage Services.


1 October to 31 March

Open every day (including bank holidays)

10am - 4pm



1 April to 30 September

Open every day (including bank holidays)

10am - 5pm


Admission to the museum is free and free car parking is available in Oaklands Park. There may be a charge for special events.

Free quizzes are available at reception to help you make the most of your visit.

Please telephone if you require assistance - 01245 605700

Chelmsford's first museum was established in 1835 by members of the Chelmsford Philosophical Society. It was housed inside part of Chelmsford Prison which at that time was near the stone bridge in the centre of town. In 1843 the museum's collection was moved to a purpose-built building in New Bridge Street (now known as New London Road). In the early 1900s the collection was taken over by Chelmsford Borough Council and in 1906 it was moved to a new building in Victoria Road South which also housed the library and the School of Art. The collection was finally moved to Oaklands House in Oaklands Park in 1930.

Oaklands House is a Victorian House built in 1866 / 7 for Frederick Wells, a successful coal merchant, timber merchant, brewer and Borough Alderman. It was built in the Italianate style and was probably designed by Charles Pertwee, Frederick Well's brother-in-law. Frederick chose this style after seeing Osborne House, Queen Victoria's residence on the Isle of Wight. The bell tower is typical of this style Oaklands House was one of the largest and most imposing houses in Chelmsford. It is now smaller than originally built as the servant's quarters were demolished between 1920 and 1930. Oaklands House together with Oaklands Park was purchased by Chelmsford Borough Council in 1929. In 2006, English Heritage recognised the importance of Oaklands House by awarding Grade 2 listed status.

From about 1950 onwards, the emphasis of the collection was changed to concentrate more on Chelmsford and Essex which resulted in foreign material being moved to other museums. In 1973 a single storey extension was added to exhibit artefacts on loan from the Essex Regiment Trust. This extension was demolished in 2008 and has been replaced by a larger extension of contrasting design.

The Museum has a purpose-built Education Room with an interactive projector and screen. Hands-on teaching sessions are provided for school children on subjects ranging from the Romans to recent history. A teaching session is currently being developed to cover the period from the Stone Age to the Iron Age. Adults are also included with sessions on local history, military history, archaeology, witchcraft etc.

The Victorian House has been closed recently to allow major upgrading work to be carried out. The large rooms at the back of the house which overlook the rose garden, have been converted into a café,which opened in February 2019. The infrastructure of the Victorian House has been upgraded and exhibits re-displayed with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Essex Heritage Trust, the Friends of Chelmsford Museums and others.

The New Museum was opened in January 2010 and was funded by Chelmsford Borough Council at a cost of £5.2M.

The New Museum is attached to the south side of Oaklands House and is of a modern contrasting design. The bricks were chosen to blend with those of Oaklands House and the grey metal plates on the side of the New Museum were chosen to match the slates on the roof of Oaklands House. The new building is environmentally friendly. Some of the heat needed is provided by ground source heat pumps and the rainwater from the roof is collected and stored for watering the gardens in Oaklands Park.

Chelmsford was the home of the world's first wireless factory, the UK's first electrical engineers and the first British manufacturer of ball and roller bearings. ' Bright Sparks ' the new industrial gallery, welcomes visitors with the story of how these key modern industries grew among the mills and maltings of a market town. There are displays of Chelmsford's surprising products and recorded memories of people who worked for our ' latest and greatest ' firm, Marconi. Hands-on science interactives illustrate some of the principles underlying the technological developments.

The exhibition tells the story of the county Regiment from its origins in 1741 as the 44th and 56th Regiments of Foot. It looks at the origins of the nickname ' The Pompadours ' and follows the Regiment's fortunes throughout the major conflicts in the British Empire. The exhibition displays trophies of the Regiment, including the famous ' Salamanca Eagle ‘, a Napoleonic standard captured from the French in 1812. It also includes an oil painting of the ' Last Stand at Gundamuck ' in Afghanistan in 1841. The Regiment is followed throughout two world wars, the Korean war and other conflicts, until its amalgamation in 1958 and disbanding in 1992. The Regiment's traditions have passed to the 1st Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment, whose service in recent conflicts abroad are still keenly followed.

A new exhibition follows the Yeomanry from its founding in 1794 as a volunteer cavalry formed by prominent landowners throughout its distinguished history. Today the Essex Yeomanry is part of the Territorial Army's 71st (Yeomanry) Signal Regiment in the Royal Corps of Signals.

Museum front view

Front view of Chelmsford Museum - Oaklands House on the left and the modern extension on the right



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