Social and Local History

Click on the images below to find out more about objects in our social and local history collections

The museum’s social and local history collections reflect the way that people have lived in the rural and market towns of north-west Essex over the past few centuries. Objects include agricultural tools and horse-drawn vehicles, domestic items, toys and games, military items and an extensive collection of documents, photographs and prints.

The collections reveal the lives of well-known local people including the Tudor author Gabriel Harvey, Henry Winstanley, builder of the first Eddystone Lighthouse, and R.A. Butler, MP for Saffron Walden for many years. They also explore how ordinary people lived, with subjects including local tradesmen, such as clockmakers, saddlers and builders, local government, societies, clubs and schools.

During the Covid-19 situation we have removed the gallery hand-lists.  If you have a pre-booked visit of the Museum booked in from September onwards, here are PDF copies of the hand-lists that you can download and view via QR codes on a smart device when you visit, in order to find out more about the contents of the display cases:

Objects in our social and local history collections are on display in the Town and Country and Costume in Context galleries, such as this carved mantlepiece:


A section of John  Harvey’s Carved Mantlepiece c. 1570 

More information here


Many more objects are kept in storage and can be viewed by appointment.

CV Walden : a Community Archive