Last year I wrote a post about wanting to visit all of England’s counties, and so, we started with our own county, Essex. We decided to make the most of our weekends off, and would go for drives, and see where the world would take us. You can see things to see and do in Essex here. All photographs in the galleries can be clicked on to view larger.
This weekend, we stayed fairly local, driving into Chelmsford and visiting the Chelmsford Museums that are within Oaklands Park. Admission is free (although there is a donations box inside) and parking is free for 3 hours, which is more than enough time to look around. There are actually two museums here – Chelmsford Museum and The Essex Regiment Museum, and shared between the Victorian mansion and the modern extension.
Photography isn’t allowed inside the museum, so I can’t share any photos of the exhibits with you, but I can tell you that there is an array of artefacts telling the story of Chelmsford’s history, and a lot more to see than I thought there would be!
Upstairs (accessible by stairs or lift) is the Essex Regiment Museum, with dramatic displays that capture the traditions, stories, battles and daily lives of the soldiers of the historic Essex Regiment, as well as a display of the Essex Yeomanry. You can also search the archive records for the Essex Regiment including personnel records from 1920.
There are natural history galleries with taxidermy – birds and small mammals, and geology with rocks, fossils and crystals, as well as a working beehive, which freaked me out when I sat down in front of the clear glass that is the hive! Was not expecting THAT! There were also prehistory, Roman, Medieval and Tudor exhibits, and a Victorian kitchen too (which we could only look into). There were also ceramics, glass, art, coins, pottery and music. And like I said earlier, I was not expecting such a variety of things to see here.
The Chelmsford Museums are set within Oaklands Park, which has picnic benches and lots of lovely grass for kids to run around on. There is also a play area, toilet facilities outside of the museum (as well as inside), a pop-up coffee shop and an ice-cream stand. Some of the flowerbeds were still awaiting blooms, but there were still some flowers to be seen! So once you’ve been around the museum, take some time to walk around the park.
There was a small gift shop inside the museum, which was cash only, I had to buy myself one of the crystals that was for sale… purple of course! We will definitely go back so I can continue to read the little information cards next to the artefacts – local history is fascinating because it is so close to home.
After our visit, we drove to buy something for lunch and drove on to Hylands Park to have a picnic. We were going to go for a walk once we’d eaten, but the heavens decided to open up and we retreated back to the car; but not before I took a few snaps!
We will be coming back to explore the park further – Hylands Park has over 574 acres of parkland, including an ancient woodland, grassland, ponds, lakes and formal gardens, so lots of things to see.