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Based around a quaint old marketplace, Chelmsford is steeped in history and tradition. Granted permission to market trade by King John in 1199, the county town of Chelmsford still retains many of its old charms and architecture. Chelmsford Cathedral (which until 1914 was a parish church) has been around since the 15th century. Although much of the building has been damaged and restored over the centuries, the original tower still remains in tact and is makes for a fascinating visit. For an insight into the history of the area from the Ice Age onwards, head to the Chelmsford Museum. To sample the town"s more modern facilities, you can wander down the main pedestrianised shopping centre and visit one of the many shops, bars or restaurants.
Rent a car in Chelmsford and you can take a trip into London or investigate in the surrounding Essex countryside. Hyland House in Writtle, just west of Chelmsford, is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon, with tearooms, house tours and 500 acres of peaceful gardens to explore. In Battlesbridge and Great Baddow there are two excellent antique centres, ideal for bargain hunters!