Chelmsford Mini Guide
Why Should I Go to Chelmsford?
It’s a great place to stay if you want to be able to visit London
without having to find a hotel there. The town has one of the grounds where Essex Cricket Club play their matches. The town is also the place where radio was invented by Marconi. The factory where the first radio worked and where they were subsequently produced now lies derelict, awaiting renovation.
What’s the Story of the Town?
Originally called Ceolmaer’s Ford, where the river could be crossed, it appeared in the Domesday Book as Celemeresfort and by the turn of the 12th century became Chelmsford and was granted a charter in 1189, Henry VIII built Beaulieu Palace here for his daughter Mary. It is also the place where radio was invented and was the home for the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company.
How Do I Get There?
Chelmsford is about half an hour away from Stansted Airport
and the same distance from one of London’s main railway termini, Liverpool Street Station.
What Should I See When I’m There?
Chelmsford Cathedral was built at the same time the town was and has survived the centuries. It is set in beautiful grounds and opens for people to enjoy quiet time and picnics in its grounds.
If I Hire a Car What Can I See
Outside the town there’s Hylands Park which was nearly derelict before being renovated by the council. Now families can visit the park and it hosts the annual V Festival.
What Can I Do Whilst I’m Here?
If you visit in summer there’s a good chance you’ll be here for the world famous V Festival, the only music festival to be held at two sites at the same time. Take a walk past the derelict buildings that used to be the Marconi factory and wonder at the genius that made Britain the forerunner in radio telecommunications. Finally, ask to visit New Hall School which occupies the site of Beaulieu Palace, built by Henry VIII for his daughter Mary. This summer, Hylands Park will be the focus of the town's Diamond Jubilee celebrations marking the queen's 60th year on the throne.
Where are the Shops?
There are a number of shopping malls, both in the centre of the town and also in out of town centres. Some are a little run down but they all offer the major high street names. The quieter roads of the town offer more in unique purchases as does the weekly market.
Most towns offer fairly standard fare and Chelmsford is no exception, there is the usual range of take away restaurants but the town does have one Michelin starred restaurant and if you want something better than standard try The Alma. Other than that you should try a pub lunch accompanied by local real ale – give the Riverside Inn a go at lunchtime.
The obvious one is the annual V Festival which has been hosted here since 2003. Top name bands play and the few days of the festival are probably worth the three figure ticket price. Just pray for good weather!
Much of Chelmsford's history is built on industry which has sadly declined to just leave the remains of buildings to highlight its past. If you’ve hired a car you will be able to drive past the frontage of the old Marconi factory, now a Grade II listed site or the Crompton Electrical factory which was absorbed into Marconi before closing.
Other sights include the UK’s second smallest cathedral and the beautiful Hylands House and Park where careful restoration by the council has left the legacy of stunning parkland and a great venue for the public to use. You can collect your hire car and return to over 100 alternative locations across the UK, here is a useful reference
for other return locations.