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Chelmsford Museum

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Listed in Culture, Creativity & History, Museums, Places to Go

Chelmsford Museum and The Essex Regiment Museum sit at the heart of Oaklands Park in Chelmsford. Galleries and displays are shared between our Victorian Mansion and stunning extension. With a variety of events and activities taking place through-out the year, there is something for all the family to enjoy.

Welcome to Chelmsford Museums!

Chelmsford Museums

This service is provided by Chelmsford City Council, and comprises of Chelmsford Museum and the Essex Regiment Museum. The Museum has varied displays, including the Story of Chelmsford, Bright Sparks, social history, coins, glass and ceramics, fine art and natural history. Popular exhibits include a live observation beehive, a stuffed Russian brown bear, and a Victorian kitchen. The Essex Regiment Museum, whose collections are owned by separate Trustees, tells the story of the County Regiment from its formation in 1741.

The Museum had been formed by members of the Chelmsford Philosophical Society in 1835 and had previously been housed in the front parlour of Chelmsford Gaol, specially built premises in Museum Terrace (since demolished) the Library and the Museum and School of Art in Victoria Road (now the Fred Chancellor Building).

Chelmsford Museums also runs the Science Learning Centre at Sandford Mill, located at the former waterworks in Chelmer Valley, on the outskirts of Chelmsford.


Oaklands House

Chelmsford Museum moved to Oaklands House, in Oaklands Park, on Empire Day, 24 May 1930.

Oaklands House had been built in the Italianate style for a local brewing magnate, Frederick Wells, c1865, and is supposedly designed in imitation of Queen Victoria’s residence, Osborne House on the Isle of White. The architect may well have been Frederick’s brother-in-law, Charles Pertwee. The bell tower, or campanile, is typical of this architectural style, as are the cupola, the ornate chimneys and ‘Doric’ porch. Frederick died in 1908 and Oaklands was put up for sale.

The House was listed Grade 2 in 1986 by English Heritage.

A new modern museum building connected to Oaklands House opened to the public in January 2010 and was officially unveiled by the Duke of Gloucester in February 2010.


Awards and accreditation

Both Chelmsford Museum (Number 579) and the Essex Regiment Museum (Number 580) have full Museum Accreditation status. This is a national standards scheme run by Arts Council England. It guarantees certain minimum standards in the areas of governance, collections and public services.

The Museums have VAQAS status (Visitor attraction Quality Scheme) run by VisitEngland. This allows the Museum to display the red rose of England logo. The Museums are also accredited learning venues with the Children’s University. Oaklands Park continues to enjoy both Green Flag and Green Heritage status.


Sustainability and Wildlife

As far as possible, the new museum extension was built using materials from renewable sources which can mostly be recycled. A ground source heat pump was installed with pipes going 90 metres down into the ground. In the summer, the museum is cooled by dispersing heat into the ground and in the winter, residual heat in the ground is extracted to help warm the museum.

There is also energy saving insulation in the extension and in the roof of the original Victorian building. This means less energy is needed to heat the building in winter and to cool it in summer. Heat exchangers to recycle the energy from air extracts and waste water have also been fitted, together with energy efficient light fittings, heating to reduce energy consumption and water-efficient taps.

In addition, rainwater is ‘harvested’ from the building roof and is stored to provide irrigation for the park.

The new building achieved a ‘good’ status with BREEAM (

Bats are known to roost in the Victorian House at Oaklands, so in an effort to keep these and encourage more of our small visitors, we have sited 30 bat boxes within the park along with two in the new building.

At Sandford Mill our industrial heritage collection is on display and can be viewed at one of the regular open days.

Visit Chelmsford Museum to learn about the birth of radio and the town’s industrial pioneers Marconi and Crompton.

Experience Chelmsford’s military history with the Essex Regiment and Yeomanry collections.


Admission: Free


Access: Level access to all galleries, lift to first floor.


Parking: Free parking for three hours.


Facilities: Baby changing facilities on site with vending machine for cold drinks and snacks.

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