You’ll be spoilt for choice if you’re looking for things to see and places to go to during your visit to Chelmsford. From historic country houses, plenty of parks and green spaces, and of course, the sports grounds with events such as the popular Twenty20, nothing is far away in this compact city. Here’s our round-up of the best things to see in Chelmsford.
Attractions in Chelmsford
Start your sightseeing tour within the city centre itself, visiting Chelmsford Cathedral for a peaceful break. The original church is over 800 years old and was then rebuilt in both the 15th and early 16th centuries, officially being named a cathedral in 1914. Still an active place of worship, you’re bound to encounter services or practices – it’s home to three choirs and several church organs. Three major artworks can be found within the cathedral, including the Tree of Life painting and the Christ in Glory sculpture, and it’s surrounded by beautifully kept flower gardens.
For a piece of history, as well as a day out that’s perfect for the whole family, visit Hylands House, which is located just outside (south-west) of the city centre. Offering a huge 574 acres of parkland, with both formal Victorian gardens and ancient woodlands, it gives your little ones plenty of space to explore. Younger visitors will also enjoy the fort-style adventure playground. The converted stables area offers a café, gift shop and second-hand bookshop, as well as dedicated studios for artists in residence. The house itself is a Grade-II neoclassical villa, built around 1730. You can visit the house on selected dates throughout the year, with guided tours to visit areas such as the Social History Room, Drawing Room and the basement. With plenty of places to enjoy a picnic and explore the grounds, it’s a great way to enjoy the English countryside – and the best part is that entrance to the park is free!
For another beautiful country house and estate from a different era, travel to Ingatestone Hall, around seven miles south of Chelmsford. Built in the 16th century and still owned (and partly occupied) by the same family, it’s a piece of Tudor history in open countryside and one mile from the charming village of Ingatestone. Guided tours are available upon prior arrangement (you might even get a tour of the house from Lord Petre himself!) and the house and grounds are open on Wednesdays and Sundays throughout the summer period. Don’t forget to stop for a light lunch or afternoon tea in the Summer Parlour – with gluten-free cake options available – or push the boat out and celebrate with a full high tea if you pre-book.
Chelmsford is full of parks and green areas, perfect for those looking to explore the charm of the typical English countryside. Take a walk along the river or by the lakeside, or go for a ramble through the surrounding picturesque villages.
Central Park is less than a 10-minute stroll from the central shops and our City Centre hotel, and a great spot for a peaceful stroll along the River Can. With games areas for the children, tennis courts, a duck pond, basketball courts, bike trails, picnic areas and the Cake at the Lake tea rooms, you can happily take your time and wander through the parkland to Admirals Park (which is also home to the summer Beer & Cider festival).
Great options for nature-lovers that are a little further outside the city are Hylands Park (the large grounds of Hylands House stately home as detailed above), as well as RHS Garden Hyde Hall. Part of the Royal Horticultural Society, green-fingered visitors can draw inspiration from the Essex garden at all times of the year. With a visitor centre equipped with plant centre and gift shop, as well as a café and children’s play area, visitors of all ages will be entertained.
There’s no shortage of green spaces in every area of Chelmsford. Oaklands Park covers 12 acres surrounding the Chelmsford Museum and Essex Regiment Museum, with sports pitches, tennis courts, two play areas and rose gardens. It’s a great place to kick back and enjoy the open space, especially if you’ve enjoyed a trip with the family to the free museums.
Melbourne Community Stadium is an athletics stadium and is home to the local club, Chelmsford City FC. With a total capacity of 3,065 (around 1,000 seats in a tiered stand), it also offers the full athletics facilities, with long jump area and eight running lanes. The Sports and Athletics Centre is right next door, fully equipped with gym facilities and sports halls. And when it’s time to celebrate, the football clubhouse bar offers fry-ups on match days, along with a selection of real ales. They also hold regular events and live music nights with tribute acts and rock bands.
The stadium is a couple of miles from the city centre, yet it’s easy to access, with free parking available and a bus route that takes you directly from the central bus station.