The Essex Numismatic Society

The Essex Numismatic Society was formed, as the Chelmsford & District Numismatic Society, in 1966 shortly before decimalisation and at a time when interest in coins and numismatics in general was increasing and new clubs and societies were proliferating. As smaller local societies disappeared it was decided to change the name and widen the catchment area to the whole of the County and since then we have remained as one of the premier numismatic societies in the provinces. We are one of approximately sixty clubs which are affiliated to BANS (The British Association of Numismatic Societies) and we regularly support their annual congresses in the spring and their lecture courses in the autumn. We have run two congresses ourselves -at Clacton in 1979 and at Chelmsford in 1987.

The Society celebrated it’s 50th Anniversary in 2016 and also hosted BANS again this time at The Holiday Inn Colchester. Delegates were well catered for with local and National subject lectures. A number of the delegates also travelled to Cressing Barns. Further details of this and any BANS events please get in touch.

Having occupied several meeting places within Chelmsford over the years, it was after the 1987 congress that we moved to our current accommodation in the Chelmsford Museum which incorporates the Essex Regiment Museum. Indeed, that congress programme included a talk on the history of the regiment and a visit to the museum when we met the then curator who has since retired but who has remained a member ever since.

The society has a membership role of approximately thirty five of whom some twenty are active and recent attendances have peaked at twenty five but average around seventeen. We meet on the fourth Friday monthly, except December, at 7.30 for 8.00pm and normally have a speaker where we are extremely proud of the quality of our programme which is as diverse as the interests of our membership. August is probably our quietest month when, traditionally, we have short talks from within our own membership. Our AGM in April is usually supplemented by our annual exhibition when we compete for the H.V.H. Everitt Trophy.

Sadly our last meeting at the Museum was due to take place in March 2020 but was cancelled. This ended nearly 35 years of mutual support between us.There is significant information the Society has on much of the Museum Numismatic Collection if anyone wishes to enquire further.

The Musem Collection

From the numismatic point of view the museum has on permanent display the Regiment’s collection of campaign and gallantry medals, including the Victoria Cross won by Lieut. Newton Parsons in South Africa, one of the finest collections of Essex Tokens in the country and a selection of coins filling more display cases. Two cases contain a good selection of Roman Coins, many of which were found in the locality of Chelmsford whose Roman name was Caesaromagus. A third case contains almost a full type set of English silver and copper coins from 1760 to 1967 and a fourth contains a fairly comprehensive selection from 1485 to 1760. A further case containing coins from 600 to 1485 is currently in course of preparation.

The archaeological archives of the museum are housed at a separate site not far from the main building. In addition to pottery, bone, tile and brick etc are coin finds from various borough sites. The best of these are included in the displays already mentioned but the remainder form part of the site groups and are described in various publications available from the museum shop.

Whilst the museum has always had a good selection of coins on display, recent rationalisation of the Roman cases and the collection from AD600 to 1967 has involved the co-operation of the Essex Numismatic Society. Much of the Numismatic material on display has been dismantled and will go into storage. Some of the Numismatic items have now been incorporated into the story of Chelmsford. Information on how the majority of the Numismatic collection will be accessed in the future is uncertain . For anyone interested in the collection please contact the Museum directly as the Society has recently ended its long time close relationship.

Local Coin Hoards

The museum has been able to acquire a couple of small treasure hoards of locally found Ancient British and Roman Gold Coins with grant aid from local and national organisations such as the Essex Heritage Trust, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Art Collection Fund and the V & A Purchase Fund, as well as through donation by one finder.

These include a hoard of forty Gallo Belgic A and E staters from Great Leighs, ten Ingoldsthorpe and Westerham staters from Great Waltham and, from Good Easter, fifteen late Roman solidi including one of Constantine III. These coins are all on public display.

Roman Solidus
Roman Solidus
Gallo Belgic Stater type E
Gallo Belgic Stater type E
Cunobelin 'Biga' type Stater
Cunobelin 'Biga' type Stater

The museum is also just about to acquire a locally found hoard of five gold staters of Dubnovellaunos and eighteen of the biga type of Cunobelinos. [Now acquired.]

The museum also holds the residue of the Hornchurch Hoard of 1938 and the whole of the Brentwood Hoard of 1968 as well as representative samples from the Messing and Theydon Mount Hoards which were found in 1975 and 1977 respectively.

The Hornchurch Hoard which was probably deposited in around 1265 contained a total of 448 coins, of which 411 were of the voided long cross series of Henry III, with the balance being made up of Scottish, Irish, short cross and forged coins and Chelmsford now holds 254 long cross coins plus one of the Irish pieces and a single short cross coin.

The Brentwood Hoard contained 308 coins and was probably deposited around 1429. The earliest coins are pennies of Edward I and the latest are from the middle of the reign of Henry V (1413-22). The hoard is unusually strong in lower denomination coins in that, in addition to 132 groats and 41 half-groats, it contains no fewer than 134 pennies and a single halfpenny to give it a total value of three pounds two shillings and a halfpenny, a substantial sum in those days. Most of the coins from this hoard, including the most recent, are quite heavily worn. All of these coins are now at Chelmsford.

The Messing Hoard is a typical Civil War Hoard comprising 2222 coins ranging from an Edward VI fine issue sixpence to issues of Charles I from around 1640. Just over half the hoard comprised shillings of Charles I and the total value was around £132. This again represented a significant sum as an agricultural worker of the day was unlikely to earn more than ten shillings a week. Chelmsford holds a small number of coins from Messing most of which are included in the 1485-1760 display.

The Theydon Mount Hoard appeared at first sight to be another Civil War Hoard. It contained 365 silver coins, the earliest of which was a shilling from the reign of Philip and Mary and the majority were halfcrowns and shillings of Charles I. Somewhat unexpectedly, however, it also contained three halfcrowns and a couple of shillings from the Commonwealth period, the latest of which was dated 1656. Chelmsford holds 61 coins from Theydon Mount and a representative selection is included in the display.

Bob Thomas Reprinted from Caesaromagus #82 Summer 2001 – the Society Journal.


*The Corringham Hoard was found in August 2009. Altogether there was a total of 519 coins in use in the 14th Century with the latest of no later than 1380. A total of 519 coins were recovered comprising of 492 English (including 5 Gold) with the remainder being Irish, Scottish, Continental and 2 Counterfeits. The Coins were declared Treasure Trove at a Chelmsford hearing in 2011. The British Museum declined the Hoard and the coins were returned to the finders. The Hoard was sold in two parts at DNW Auctioneers in September and December 2012. 

Caesaromagus back copies

  1. A full set of Caesaromagus is held by the Chelmsford Museum library and this should be available for study upon application at the museum.
  2. A second full set is held at the Warburg Institute in the joint Royal/British Numismatic Societies library and this is available for study by members during normal opening hours.
  3. A third full set is held in the Essex Record Office archives and will not normally be available to members of the public who have the alternative run at the museum.

ENS will be supplying future editions as and when they are produced.
Whilst it is normally possible to take photocopies of articles or even full editions, should members of the public want to acquire any back copies they should E Mail the secretary quoting the edition number. NB. There are only limited numbers of spares available and, in some cases, there are no longer spares. Copies of back numbers which are available can be supplied at a price of £1.00 per copy post free but recent copies (from 2010) will be £1.50