Explore local history around Watford

The town of Watford on the outskirts of London can make a great base for history buffs who want to explore the rich local history of the area.

Read on to find the best places to discover the past in and around Watford.

Watford Museum

Watford Museum tells the story of Watford past and present.

Based in the former Benskins Brewery Mansion, Watford Museum’s collection covers local history and industry, and includes topics such as Watford Football Club, the Second World War, printing and brewing.

The museum houses a good collection of artworks, including early photographs, drawings, paintings and sculpture. A particular draw to Watford Museum is the Cassiobury Collection, which includes two centuries worth of portraits of members of the Essex family, as well as classic views of Cassiobury park. The ‘space2’ gallery is home to contemporary art and design exhibitions.

Watford Museum is open from Thursday to Saturday, and admission is free.

Bushey Museum

Close to Watford is the small town of Bushey, home to Bushey Museum.

For the last 20 years Bushey Museum has been giving visitors a chance to learn the story of Bushey. A special exhibition celebrating the museum’s 20th anniversary is now on, and showcases artworks exhibited as well as publicity posters and behind the scenes work.

Local history fans will enjoy looking through artefacts concerned with trade and industry, school, worship, police, maps and more, and archaeological objects are also on display. The Kemp-Welch Memorial Gallery houses large scale equestrian paintings by notable artist Lucy Kemp-Welch, while the Herkomer room is dedicated to the life and work of Sir Hubert von Herkomer.

Visitors can also see contemporary art in a selling exhibition by the Watford and Bushey Art Society, and browse gifts in the Museum shop.

Bushey Museum is open Thursday to Sunday, with no charge for entry.

The Three Rivers Museum

In the nearby town of Rickmansworth, visitors to the Three Rivers Museum can see a diverse collection of historical objects and photographs of the Three Rivers area.

Displays in the museum cover a wide range of local history subjects, such as buildings, transport and industry, and visitors can browse through a great collection of memorabilia.

Admission to the Three Rivers Museum is free, and you can visit from Monday to Saturday. We also recommend you stretch your legs after a visit to the museum with a short walk to see historic Batchworth Lock.

Harrow Museum

A trip to Harrow Museum, is a great way to discover the history of the town. The museum is situated in the grounds of historic Headstone Manor.

A permanent exhibition on the agricultural history of Harrow can be found in the Granary building, as well as collections from past industry. An exhibition about the significant history of the area is housed in The Small Barn, which is itself a Grade II listed building. The core of the museum can be found in the Tithe Barn, which holds temporary exhibitions, workshops and talks, as well as the museum café, shop and facilities.

Harrow Museum offers free entry, and is open every day except Tuesday.

St Albans Museums

The historic town of St Albans near Watford is home to some fantastic museums celebrating the past.

In the Museum of St Albans you can find out more about the unique history of the town. The museum includes a medieval gallery, information on the story of the town and the Christian martyr it is named for, and exhibitions on the growth of St Albans through the ages.

The second largest city in Roman England was Verulamium, which was located in what is now Verulamium Park in St Albans. The history of this major Roman site is celebrated in the fantastic Verulamium Museum, where history is brought to life through Roman rooms, mosaics, artefacts from the period, and lots of activities. The museum also has a shop selling souvenirs and gifts.

Plan Your Visit

It’s easy to travel from Watford to the nearby museums by car, and the Metropolitan tube line provides frequent public transport links. The Park Inn, Watford is a short walk from public transport facilities, and also has car parking for guests. The Park Inn London Watford also offers great dining options at the RBG Bar and Grill, where you can put your feet up after a busy day exploring the past.

Can you recommend any other exciting local history sites near Watford?