Treasures of the Essex Record Office (part 2)
PUBLISHED: 15:01 03 February 2016 | UPDATED: 15:01 03 February 2016
The Essex Record Office stores documents from the county’s history stretching back more than 1,000 years. In the second part of this feature, Hannah Salisbury shares a further five highlights that are particularly treasured in this stunning archive
The Essex Record Office (ERO) is the storehouse of Essex history. Its collections cover more than 1,000 years of history and take up nearly eight miles of shelving. The ERO collections include documents, maps, photographs, prints, drawings, architectural plans, sound and video, and much more. While this vast archive holds unique insights around every corner, there are certain ‘treasures’ that are among the most fascinating, rare and beautiful items in ERO’s care.
We are lucky in Essex to have such a wonderful county collection. Essex is a large and varied county with all sorts of stories to tell, and since ERO was one of the earliest county record offices to be established (in 1938) there has been plenty of time to collect and look after all sorts of records.
The ERO is open to the public and welcomes visitors who want to research their family, house or local history, or anything else for which material is available. ERO will also help you look after any historic documents or photographs you might be responsible for, with advice and services available, from conservation through to digitisation.
Front elevation of the County Hall of Essex, 1788
Now known as Shire Hall, the former County Hall is still one of Chelmsford’s most recognisable landmarks. From its opening in 1791 until 2012, Shire Hall served as the County Court. It replaced a Tudor building, which by 1788 was condemned by the county authorities as ‘not in a fit condition for transacting the publick [sic] business of the County’. The county surveyor, John Johnson, was commissioned to build a new Shire House and his original plans still survive at ERO today
James Deane’s notebook
This volume was compiled by James Deane (1699-1765), a carpenter and builder in 18th century Colchester. It contains designs and detailed, meticulously-costed specifications for houses, cottages, barns, a malting office and kiln, a ‘pigeon house’, a greenhouse, and even a fountain
The Broomfield Bible
This Bible belonged to the ill-fated King Charles I, who before his execution presented it to his librarian, who in turn left it to his granddaughter. She left it to Broomfield Church. The elaborately decorated cover of the Bible shows Charles’s royal coat of arms
Chelmsford Borough Fire Brigade, 1899
Chemlsford Borough Fire Brigade proudly demonstrate their new fire escape ladder in May 1899, at the Corn Exchange. The new ladder could reportedly reach the highest building in the borough. The photograph was taken by Fred Spalding, a prolific photographer based in Chelmsford