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Hylands History & Gardens Tour

Introducing our brand-new complimentary multimedia tour which shares the rich history of Hylands House and our extensive gardens.

Hylands House was first built almost 300 years ago, and the gardens have been a major attraction for most of our history. Over time, each new owner made their own mark on the house and grounds, extending and remodelling the landscape according to the tastes and fashions of the day. Initially there were 100 acres of parkland. By the mid-1800s it covered some 4,300 acres!

Today, Hylands Estate covers 574 acres of historic parkland, all open for the public to explore. We’re proud that we are known as the jewel in Chelmsford’s crown. Now, our new multimedia tour, designed by ATS Heritage, will take you through the history of the Estate, telling the story of how we came to be as we are today.

How to enjoy the tour

The tour is free to explore seven days a week. Enjoy it via our official handheld devices, which can be borrowed from The Stables Information Point with a £10 deposit per device via a bank card. The deposit will be refunded back to your card on return of the devices borrowed.

Alternatively, use your smartphone to listen to the tour by scanning the QR code at the first post stop in The Stables area, or any others on the tour. Don’t forget to bring your earphones if doing the tour from a smartphone.

A map of Hylands Estate marking the different stops on the tour.
The Pleasure Gardens of Hylands filled with white flowers.

What you can discover

The tour follows past owners of the Estate, from Sir John Comyns, who established Hylands’ first formal gardens, to the last private owner, Christine Hanbury, whose memorial garden funded by the Friends of Hylands House remains a touching legacy. There are plenty of fascinating facts to give you an overview of Hylands’ past and its role today.

Hear from the historic Estate workers

The tour also provides insight into the lives of those who lived and worked on the Estate over the centuries. It draws on newspaper archives and historic film footage and photographs to reveal the social history of Hylands. Visitors can listen to the experiences of a scullery maid, a governess and a gardener as they describe what it was like to live and work at Hylands over 100 years ago.

A historical photo of a biplane landing on the back lawn of Hylands House. A large group of spectators are dressed in formal attire.
The Hylands official guide book being held up in front of Hylands House.

Narrated by local author and curator

The guide is part-narrated by Nick Wickenden, archaeologist and former Manager of Chelmsford Museum. Nick authored the comprehensive official guide: Hylands ‘A Remarkably Elegant… Mansion House’, which explores in more detail the history of the house itself and its incredible journey of restoration. You can purchase the book on our website here, and at The Stables Information Point.

Donate to the Friend of Hylands House

If you enjoy the tour, please consider a donation to The Friends of Hylands House. The Friends were established in 1995 and they play a crucial role in raising money to help preserve and improve the house and grounds. Your contribution will help pay for preservations and improvements that will benefit generations of visitors to come. You can make a donation in The Stables bookshop.

Members of the Friends of Hylands house standing in the Hanbury Memorial Garden smiling at the camera.

Funded by the Cultural Recovery Fund

The Hylands History and Gardens Multimedia Tour is funded by the Culture Recovery Fund. The fund aims to support heritage sites and other cultural venues in recovering from the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.