Chelmsford's history

What better way to explore Chelmsford’s history than through the city’s Heritage Open Days?   

The free festival is held every year and it’s a chance to explore hidden places, experience new things and find out the history of your local area.  Organised by the Chelmsford Civic Society, there will be a brilliant line-up of 40 events taking place from 9-18 September bringing Chelmsford’s past to life.   

What to expect

Heritage Open Days is the UK’s biggest festival of history and culture. It runs every year for 10 days in September and offers an insight into local heritage through a programme of free events.  

This year, Chelmsford is celebrating its distinctive culture. There’ll be talks, art, games and exciting historic displays. Visitors will get special access to popular venues such as Hylands House and Pleshey Castle with tours from knowledgeable local guides. 

There’ll be everything from live music from local solo artists to a unique insight into the world of cosplay, a new session from Geek Retreat about ‘The Art of Dressing Up’. Events will take place across Chelmsford, including in local community workspace venue, Patch, one of the festival’s sponsors alongside Chelmsford City Council and Chelmsford For You. 

Heritage Open Days is a great example of how exploring our history and heritage together can build better connected communities. I am pleased to see this event go from strength to strength each year, developing a stronger sense of collective identity and belonging around Chelmsford’s unique history. Heritage Open Days is fast becoming a standout celebration in our annual cultural calendar.

Councillor Natacha Dudley, Cabinet Deputy for Community Engagement

What’s on  

Chelmsford Pioneers Walk  

Take part in this special walking tour which will take you from Chelmsford’s train station to the ground of Anglia Ruskin University on Friday 9 September at 10am. Along the way, you’ll discover the history of important pioneers that were responsible for many global firsts in technology and radical thinking.   

Museum War History Day  

Explore military radios from the 1930s to the 2000s. On September 17 from 10am-4pm, you’re invited to visit Chelmsford Museum and find out how technology has evolved throughout military history. The Essex Historic Military Vehicle Association (HMVA) preserve and display these rare items and they’ll be there to answer any questions and give demonstrations.   

The Essex Yeomanry band will be playing outside the Museum and you can catch them at 10.30 and 11.45am. There will also be a special Yeomanry exhibition too in the Wells Suite with communication equipment and various military items on display.  

Geocaching  

A special geocaching event will be taking place every day during the festival around Chelmsford. No booking is required for this, you’ll simply need to search out the caches around the city, receive a sticker and sign the logbook.  

Geocaching equipment

Women’s clothes and war  

Head over to Patch on Friday 9 September at 7pm to find out about the effect that the declaration of war in 1914 had on British women’s clothing and accessories.  

The History of Essex Cricket Club talk  

Do you know much about the history of the Essex Cricket Club?   

Head over to The CloudFM County Ground on New Writtle Street on Friday 16 September at 7pm to be taken through the club’s history. Club historian, David Pracy, will journey back to the beginning of the ground’s existence and explain how it went from an amateur club to a successful and professional organisation. 

In Chelmsford we’re fortunate to have had many pioneering innovators and this year’s Heritage Open Days theme of Astounding Inventions has been an easy one to coordinate! We have a wonderful mix of regular venues and brand-new participants, and we also have 10 virtual events to enable former residents of Chelmsford to experience events too.

Chelmsford Civic Society

More information  

There’s much more we haven’t had a chance to tell you about – you’ll be able to find out about the ‘Windrush generation’, get creative on a drawing trail to sketch some of Chelmsford’s most iconic buildings and take a guided tour of the Mosque in Moulsham Street by Chelmsford Muslim Society.  

Take a look at the Chelmsford Heritage Open Days 2022 brochure to find out what else you can do and to plan your festival. Get all the details about booking on the dedicated Chelmsford Heritage Open Days website.  

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