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Hollytrees Museum, Colchester

#5 of 11 in Museums in Colchester
Specialty Museum · Hidden Gem · Museum
Hollytrees Museum is a free to visit, publicly owned museum in the centre of Colchester and close to Colchester Castle. It is situated in an eighteenth-century house ("Hollytrees"), which was used as a private residence until 1929, when it became a museum.
The first house on the site, known as "Symnells" after its owner, was later bought by the Shaw family, and passed from John Shaw to John Shaw III and John Shaw IV. When he died a minor, the house passed into chancery; his mother Jane Lessingham bought it but soon died. The modern house was constructed in for Elizabeth Cornelisen, who had bought the site from Lessingham's executors and promptly tore down the existing structure in poor condition. Construction commenced on 10 May 1718 at a cost of £630 plus brickwork and tiling; the total refurbishment was estimated to have cost £2000. She died soon after, bequeathing the house to her niece, Sarah Creffeild (née Webster), who left it to her second husband Charles Gray. It was, at that time, known as "Esqr Creffield's [sic]". Possession of the house reverted to the Creffeilds; through Thamer Creffeild to James Round, who left to his brother Charles, who left it to his son Charles Gray Round, who left to it to his nephew James Round. The Rounds finally sold it to the Corporation of Colchester in 1922, a purchase paid for privately by Viscount Cowdray and his wife. It became a museum in 1929.
The house is known as Hollytrees after two holly trees planted in the grounds by Charles Gray in 1729 and is now a free to visit museum serving the centre of Colchester and specialising in local history. It is a grade I listed building.
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206 reviews
  • Was really excited to visit this museum due to the old toys and games we knew it contained. We arrived at the entrance as a man was coming out to it who actually looked at us like we were doing...  more »
  • There are amazing museums and there are boring ones. This was certainly the former. The display cases were so interesting but many had no illumination and were difficult to see inside. The kitchen...  more »
  • An interesting museum, showing the history of the town of Colchester, and it is free. Well worth a visit when in Colchester, the bonus is that it is in Castle Park and adjacent to the castle, so no real excuse for not visiting. Once inside you will find pleasant and helpful staff.
  • For a museum that costs nothing to enter, Hollytrees is great! There's a lot in there for all ages to enjoy, in particular some great interactive areas to keep children entertained. Has a nice little gift store at the entrance/exit. Well worth a visit whilst you're in the Castle grounds.
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