Oaklands House and Park

Rear of the home of Chelmsford Museum, Oaklands House, set in Oaklands Park
Aerial view of Oaklands Park
Oaklands House- a Victorian mansion in the Italianate style
The wood panelled Victorian hall and staircase

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

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


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 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. The two storey building contains the following new features:


  • New level accessible entrance/exit, atrium, shop and toilets
  • 'Bright Sparks', an interactive exhibition about the industrial story of Chelmsford
  • New temporary exhibition gallery
  • New Essex Regiment Museum
  • New Essex Yeomanry display
  • New education/meeting room


The building was designed by Thomas Ford & Partners (architects). The main contractor was T.J Evers (Tiptree, Essex). Please also see Sustainability in the new building


Oaklands Park


The Museum is set within the delightful Oaklands Park, which has play grounds and sports facilities. The Park has both Green Flag and Green Heritage status.



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