Located on Chester’s Grosvenor Street, the Grosvenor Museum is named after the Grosvenor family. The Grosvenor family is a prominent land-owning family in Cheshire, and one member of the family is the Duke of Westminster.
The full and official name of the Grosvenor Museum is The Grosvenor Museum of Natural History and Archaeology, with Schools of Science and Art, for Chester, Cheshire and North Wales. A bit of a mouthful, most people, and indeed its own marketing literature, refer to it simply as the Grosvenor Museum.
Home to fascinating displays and exhibits and with information and activities suitable for people of all ages, the Grosvenor Museum is an ideal place to learn more about Chester’s long and diverse history. It is also a fantastic place to take the kids for a few hours. Housed within a red-brick listed building, the museum first opened its doors in 1886.
Learn more about Chester’s Roman heritage
Chester was a major city during the Roman Empire (27 BC – 476 AD). Founded at some point between 71 and 79 AD, the city was originally known as Deva. A military camp was located within the fortress, and it was one of the Roman Empire’s most significant military bases.
There have been many fascinating archaeological finds in Chester, many of which are on display in the Grosvenor Museum. See Roman coins, remnants of clothing and accessories, cookware, fragments and reconstructions of pottery, decorative items, funeral urns, and more, all unearthed from beneath the streets of Chester. A collection of Roman tombstones offers a particularly interesting peek into the past, with those that belonged to mighty soldiers, locals, and slaves.
Informative displays show how the city was laid-out in times gone by, as well as major military campaigns that the Roman legions led from the area. You can find out where to go to see Roman architectural ruins, such as the wall, and learn more about life during the Roman period.
Experience life in the Roman times
Several displays not only show what life was like in the past, but also allow you to take a step back to those times through the interactive activities. Especially great for kids, there are dressing-up clothes, a representation of a Roman home in which you can recline on the chaise longue (long seat), worksheets to complete as you wander through the different areas, and more!
You can even peer in morbid fascination at a skeleton that was discovered at the depths of a Roman well!
Wander through the more recent past at the Period House
After learning more about the Roman era, jump forward in time with a visit to the Period House. Wander through different rooms, spread across three floors, and take a journey from the 17th century through to the early 1900s.
The different rooms replicate diverse epochs, complete with period furnishings and décor, and models add character and life to the scenes of daily life.
You can marvel at an austere school room, a grand entrance hall, an inviting living room, a comfortable bedroom, and a well-equipped (for the times!) kitchen from the Victorian times in England (1837 - 1901).
See how people in Georgian times (1714 - 1830) entertained their esteemed guests, and how people in the Stuart era (1603 - 1714) sat down to a hearty meal in an elaborate dining room.
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Other educational and eye-catching displays to enjoy
The Grosvenor Museum is home to the biggest public collection of paintings by Louise Raynor, an artist who was born in the 1830s Derbyshire but spent many years living, and painting, in Chester. Her beautiful watercolours show the city as it was in the past, transporting you back to the very-different streets and buildings of the 19th century.
There is a large collection of brutal-looking Samurai swords, often a huge hit with younger visitors to the museum.
A fairly small but, nonetheless, interesting room is home to a natural history collection, with stuffed birds gaping from their perches, their beady eyes watching you as you peer at them in curiosity. There are shells and sea creatures, fossils, and plenty of other items related to the natural world. Fans of geology will enjoy the various rock specimens.
Other items in the museum include thought-provoking sculptures, shining silverware, musical instruments, clothing, and furniture. There really is something for most interests!
Useful information for visiting the Grosvenor Museum
The Grosvenor Museum is open on almost every day of the year. It is open between 10.30 am and 5 pm on Monday through to Saturday. The Sunday opening hours are between 1 pm and 4 pm.
Admission is free, although donations are gratefully received.
There is a small but colourful onsite café that serves a selection of hot and cold drinks, as well as snacks and pastries. You can pick up some souvenirs from the gift shop, or treat yourself to one of the many books about Chester.
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