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Grosvenor Museum

Grosvenor Museum is a unique experience in Chester. Situated close to the very centre of the city, the museum building was purpose-built to hold the collections of Victorian collectors. Many of these Natural History and Archeological collections are still on display today.

Open: Mon–Sat 10.30am–5pm. Sun 1pm–4pm.

Address: 27 Grosvenor Street, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 2DD

Attraction Information

The building is an adventure in exploration and after watching the short film, which tells the history of Chester from the dinosaurs to the present day, you can wander the many temporary and permanent galleries.

Many of the galleries hold collections of national significance, in particular, Stories in Stone which displays and interprets the collection of Roman tombstones through film and interactive activities.  The gallery highlights the diverse population of Roman Chester when the soldiers were recruited from the far reaches of the empire, speaking different languages and holding many cultural beliefs.  The film will explain the experiences of a proud Roman widow after her husband died.  Next door, you can see the evidence of everyday Roman life with luggage labels, jewellery, game pieces and building materials, many of which are marked by the Roman and their dogs!

The new Natural Cheshire gallery is great for the younger visitors with lots of activities to stimulate their interest.  These sit among the collections of geological samples, animals and fossils which tell the stories of Chester’s landscape through the Sandstone Ridge and the River Dee, Delamere Forest and our own back gardens.

The Silver Gallery holds the entire collection of over 400 pieces of Chester-made silver. There are ceremonial platters, trophies, church silver. See if you can find the baby’s rattle and teether.  Next door, in the Art Gallery you will find some of the collection of paintings.  The portraits and landscapes show the people of Chester and how the city may have looked in the past, tho there is evidence of ‘photo-shopping’ a view to give it more interest. Can you tell where the Chester views are?

Take a moment to have a cuppa in our World War 2-themed café or soak up the atmosphere of the Roman garden before moving through to explore the 3 floors of 20 Castle Street, built in 1680. Take care on the winding staircase and notice how it leans as you climb to the room-sets of Georgian, Edwardian and Victorian Chester. You’ll also find a changing display of costume from the collection.

The museum plans a rolling programme of temporary exhibitions which give an opportunity to host guest exhibitions and show pieces which cannot be on permanent display. We make use of small spaces so you can see some of our more unusual items, from archaeology to shoes, Victorian Valentines to Medieval pottery. We have a permanent coin mini-gallery which often hosts travelling collections or research related to local events.

There is a vibrant schools programme and you may see young soldiers in their armour, learning the life of a soldier as they march to the amphitheatre. They spend part of their day handling Roman and replica objects to understand the importance of the Roman occupation and its impact on Britain. You may also see the ‘little ones’ following the ‘jammy’ footprints of Morris the Mouse to learn what life was like for Victorian children.

The museum staff is passionate about the collections and wants to share the delights with you. There is a programme of family holiday activities, films, lectures and events to make sure you find something new and stimulating every time you pop in.

Take a look on the website to see what’s coming up.

Prices

Free entry. Suggested donations £3

Accessibility

The Grosvenor Museum has full independent access to the ground floor, including Exhibition Gallery One, the Lecture Theatre, the ground floor of the Period House, the Roman Gallery and the Roman Stones Gallery and accessible toilet.

The Art Gallery, Silver Gallery, Natural History Gallery and Exhibition Gallery Two are on the first floor, the Education Workroom is on the second floor. There is no lift.

Toilets and baby-change. There is a small café at the museum offering hot and cold drinks, and small snacks. The shop stocks a range of books, greetings cards and historical gifts. Support dogs welcome. No smoking. We request that visitors do not eat or drink in the galleries.

Events at the Grosvenor Museum

Exhibitions

17 October – 24 February

Memento Mori: Tombs and Memorials in Cheshire

Exhibition Gallery Two

As we remember the centenary of the end of the Great War, this exhibition presents watercolours, drawings, prints and photographs showing how Cheshire has commemorated its dead from the Romans to the present day. With tombstones, tomb-chests and mural slabs, public sculptures, cenotaphs and a shrine, the imagery of commemoration ranges across the centuries with knights and their ladies, parents and their children, skeletons and skulls, heraldry, saints and angels.

Supported by the Megan Gwynne-Jones Charitable Trust, Grosvenor Museum Society, Chester Archaeological Society

27 October – 22 April

Dead Normal: Death in Everyday Life

Exhibition Gallery One

Death is a universal occurrence – people have always died, and still do. The ways we have thought about and interacted with death depend on many factors and have changed over time. This exhibition explores the ways different cultures and communities have tried to make sense of the end of life, mourned their loved ones, and chosen to remember them.

Supported by Co-op Funeralcare

Family Programme

Sunday 18 November, Saturdays 8 December & 5 January

Family film screening of ‘Frozen Sing-Along’

Lecture Theatre

Sunday 2-3.40pm, Saturdays 11am-12.40pm. Free, but booking essential through www.experiencechester.co.uk.

Come and join Elsa, Olaf, Anna, Sven and more of your favourite characters for a Christmas sing-along.

Brought to you by CH1ChesterBID

Sunday 25 November, Saturdays 15 & 29 December

Family film screening of ‘Elf’

Lecture Theatre

Sunday 2-3.40pm, Saturdays 11am-12.40pm. Free, but booking essential through www.experiencechester.co.uk.

The sweet and funny story of Buddy, a human who grows up amongst Santa’s elves, and his trip to New York to look for his father. Buddy finds his father, and the two of them slowly get to know each other, with increasingly chaotic results!

Brought to you by CH1ChesterBID

Saturday 1 December – Sunday 6 January

Twelfth Night Riddle Trail

Twelfth Night – traditionally the last day of Yuletide – was once a time of fun and feasting. Come and follow our museum trail, inspired by traditional Twelfth Night riddles, caricatures and parlour games. Pick up a copy from reception.

Saturdays 1 & 8 December

Christmas Card Making

Newstead Gallery

2-4pm drop-in. Free, suggested donation £1.50.

Start your Christmas preparations early and make a Christmas card in the gallery using our craft materials.

Sunday 2 & Saturday 22 December, Wednesday 2 January

Family film screening of ‘Polar Express’

Lecture Theatre

Sunday 2-3.40pm, other days 11am-12.40pm. Free, but booking essential through www.experiencechester.co.uk.

A boy who doesn’t think that Santa Claus exists takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole on Christmas Eve.

Brought to you by CH1ChesterBID

Thursdays 6 & 13 December

Winter Watch Parade

Starts from Forum Shopping Centre

7pm. Free.

This spectacular event is based on Chester’s 15th-century tradition of ‘Setting the Watch’, when the city leaders handed over the keys of Chester to the City Watch – the early police force – after processing around the city to ensure it was secure. The Winter Watch Parade combines colourful costumes and a collection of characters to provide a popular festive event. Celebrate Christmas with the Lord of Misrule, devils and dragons, dancing and sword fights, and a spectacular-fire breathing finale.

Adult Programme

Wednesday 14 November

Dead Funny

Lecture Theatre

7.30-9pm. £10, with a free drink: tickets from www.ticketsource.co.uk/westcheshiremuseums.

Join us for something a little bit different! Comedians from up and down the country will become professors and comment on some of the exhibits in the current exhibition Dead Normal, filling you in on what they actually are. The catch? They have never seen any of the slides before and will be making up on the spot. It’s Time Team meets Who’s Line is it Anyway and promises to be a hilarious night.

Thursday 15 November

Sacrifice, Sorrow and Salvation: The Grosvenor Family, Eaton Hall and the Great War

Lecture Theatre

7.30-9pm. Grosvenor Museum Society members free, non-members £5.

Louise Benson, Archivist for the Eaton Estate, relates the story of the Grosvenor family during the Great War. It is often said that the conflict left no family untouched, and that is true of the Grosvenors: for them too this was a time of loss, grief, and experiences that would change the family forever. However, there was salvation: Eaton Hall, like many country houses, became a hospital for wounded soldiers – a place of refuge in dark times.
A Grosvenor Museum Society event

Saturday 17 November

Explore your Archive: What a Liberty!

Cheshire Record Office, Duke Street, Chester

10.30am-3.30pm. Free, no booking required.

Tales from the manor court rolls – from the struggle for control between church and city to bad language and betting in Boughton! Meet the archivists to accompany you on a journey back in time with the help of Chester’s medieval documents.

Thursday 22 November

Funeral Fashions in Britain 1894-1998

Lecture Theatre

7-8pm. Free, suggested donation £3.

The Newman Brothers factory in Birmingham made the finest quality coffin furniture for just over 100 years, before its closure and subsequent rescue as the Coffin Works museum. The history of the company parallels the many changes in funerary practice which took place during the 19th and 20th centuries. This talk will chart the rise and fall of Newman Brothers, as well as wider trends in funerals, cemeteries and mourning, to reveal the social history behind the transformation of death from the ‘Victorian Celebration’ to contemporary practice.

Saturday 24 November

The Britishness of British Art: A Study Day with Adrian Sumner

Lecture Theatre

10am-3.30pm. £17, includes lunch, tea & coffee. To book call 10606 782516 or email adriansu3913842@aol.com.

Explore the astonishing breadth and depth of British art from the Neolithic to the world of tomorrow with this day of magnificently-illustrated lectures. Of course we look at popular favourites such as Hogarth and Stubbs, Constable and Turner, Burne-Jones and Hockney, but we will take time to seek out such lost and hidden treasures as the work of John Duncan, William Orpen, Nicholas Hilliard, Maria Cosway, Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale, Gwen John, and many more – a revelation of sorts.

Thursday 29 November

The Medieval Cemeteries of Poulton

Lecture Theatre

7.30-8.30pm. Free, suggested donation £3.

Excavations at Poulton, a multi-period archaeological site just outside Chester, have uncovered evidence of human population spanning thousands of years from the Iron Age through to the modern period. One of the most significant areas is a large cemetery surrounding a medieval chapel. This talk by Kevin Cootes, Poulton Project Archaeologist, examines this fascinating site and explores the most recent archaeological discoveries.

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Tuesday 4 December

The Archaeology of the Walking Dead

Lecture Theatre

7.30-8.30pm. Free, suggested donation £3.

Join Professor Howard Williams from the University of Chester as he explores the results and implications of an archaeological study of the zombie apocalypse.

Wednesday 12 December

The Roman Way of Death

Lecture Theatre

7.30-8.30pm. Free, suggested donation £3.

Nearly 2000 years ago, Chester was a busy military fortress with a flourishing civilian settlement attached. Its inhabitants largely followed Roman traditions when burying and commemorating their dead. This talk will explore Deva’s fascinating Roman cemeteries and take a closer look at local burial practices.

Monday 17 – Wednesday 19 December

TAG Deva: The 40th Theoretical Archaeology Group Conference

University of Chester, Parkgate Road

For details please contact tagdeva@chester.ac.uk.

The 40th TAG Conference will take place in the historic city of Chester. In the Roman period this legionary fortress was known as Deva, home of the Legio XX Valeria Victrix. TAG Deva presents a range of theoretical topics, ideas and debates across the breadth and diversity of current archaeological theory. It also encapsulates the distinctive prehistory and history of Chester and its region, with sessions on subjects relating to frontiers and mobilities in terms of time and space, land and sea, in the context of Chester as an historic border city between England and Wales.

Tuesday 22 January

The Victorian Way of Death

Lecture Theatre

2.30-4pm. Grosvenor Museum Society members free, non-members £5.

From horse-drawn hearses to jet jewellery, the Victorians lavished much more money on their funerals than on their weddings. Find out why as Dr Amanda Draper lifts the veil on cryptic customs shrouding a Victorian Death.

A Grosvenor Museum Society event

Wednesday 23 January

Voices from the Holocaust

Lecture Theatre

7.30-8.30pm. Free, suggested donation £3.

A moving opportunity to see and discuss original correspondence written by prisoners while they were living and, often, dying in Second World War Nazi concentration camps including Auschwitz, Dachau and Theresienstadt. Presented by Anthony Annakin-Smith, local author and historian. The material allows us to enter briefly the real lives of victims and to hear their emotions and experiences. Moving, enlightening and powerful.

Wednesday 30 January

To Kill a King: The Regicide of Charles I

Lecture Theatre

7.30-8.30pm. £5: tickets from www.ticketsource.co.uk/westcheshiremuseums.

At 2pm, on Tuesday 30 January 1649, King Charles I stepped onto a wooden scaffold outside Whitehall’s Banqueting House, knelt down in front of an audience of thousands and was publicly beheaded as a traitor. From imprisonment and trial to execution and legacy, historian Rebecca Rideal unravels one of the most important events in British history – the regicide of Charles I.

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