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Shire Hall to open its doors to the public

19 November 2012

Essex County Council is holding an open day at Shire Hall for members of the public this Saturday, 24 November, to help generate expressions of interest for the public consultation into the future use of the historic building.

The open day will be held between 12.30pm and 4pm and will give visitors a unique opportunity to visit Shire Hall and explore the Grade II listed building which has been the heart of Chelmsford for many hundreds of years.

Councillor Dick Madden, Chairman of the Shire Hall Reference Group, said: “Following discussions with the Mayor of Chelmsford, I felt it would be a great idea to hold an open day, so that residents can get a real sense of this historic building which has played a key part in the civic and judicial life of Chelmsford. Hopefully it will give people an idea as to what the building could be used for, as well as the constraints of the building.”

Heritage experts and some of the team from the Chelmsford Museum will be on hand to give visitors guided tours of the building, including the criminal courtrooms which were once only open to those appearing before a judge, as well as the historic County Room.
The building was completed in 1791 to the design of the then County Surveyor of Essex, John Johnson, who built many fine mansions and public buildings in Essex, London and elsewhere. The main building has remained substantially the same throughout the 200 years of Chelmsford’s history, although there was some internal remodelling in the 1930’s. The resultant ‘art deco’ style can be seen in the Picture Room and on the main staircase. By contrast the elegant ballroom (the County Room) has been restored to its original Georgian style of decoration.

Entrance to the open day is free and there is no need to book, however please be aware there is limited disabled access in the building.

For those who cannot attend we would encourage them to submit their views and visit or email before Friday 15 February 2013.