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About

Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome is a unique place, ideally suited to building memories for you and your family.

Its story covers 100 years of life so far, combining feverish excitement interspersed with periods of calm and tranquillity. The aerodrome lies to the east of Chelmsford and west of Maldon in Essex, set within an area of gently rolling farmland. It comprises the largest known surviving group of RFC buildings on an WW1 aerodrome which was not adapted for further military use in its history – but that is only part of the tale.

It is an active aerodrome and Heritage site, an award-winning centre for community volunteering, a dedicated response to the challenges of isolation and mental health and houses a growing wealth of skills, research and knowledge. When considered together with its growing collections, ecological triumphs and its ongoing activities, a truly unique picture is formed. One of vibrancy and importance —nationally and internationally.

Opened in 1916 as home to B Flight of No 37(HD) Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, the aerodrome saw the birth of the Air Defence of Great Britain in response to the first raids by Zeppelins and Gotha bombers on London and the South East.  It played a key role in the Battle for Britain (the first London Blitz) the following year. It was at Stow Maries that No 37 Squadron transitioned from the Royal Flying Corps to the Royal Air Force on 1 April 1918. It continued in its dedicated role until Spring 1919 – when the RAF closed its doors forever. The existing buildings were repurposed or converted to residential & agricultural use and the airfield turned over to pasture.

Being left to its own devices, undisturbed, for so many years allowed the original occupant of the site to reclaim it— Nature. Our Ponds and meadows supports declining farmland species such as brown hare, corn bunting, yellowhammer and a variety of owls, including Barn owls and overwintering Short-eared owls. Endangered and rare species such as Water Voles and Badgers prosper here.

After existing silently for most of the last century, the Aerodrome was designated a conservation area in 2009. In 2012 all 24 surviving buildings were listed Grade II*. In 2013,  following a generous grant from the Heritage Memorial Fund, it was purchased and placed in the care of Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome Ltd, (SMGWA) a charitable trust.

Supported by an army of volunteers, the site has seen leaps forward. Hangars are now in place; aircraft are based here and the Mess once again turns out food for hungry pilots, crew and visitors. A shop, run solely by volunteers, sells novel gifts and goods that spark interest and nostalgia. Our award-winning museum exhibitions include the stories of the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force (“RFC”) , original occupants of the site (“37 Sqn”), explore the female contributions (“Rule Britannia—the Women’s War”) and our connections to The Great War overseas (“St. Omer: The Great War”). We are developing new exhibitions every year. We have already have two fascinating hangars of aircraft, and aspire to build more.

Our Curatorial and award-winning Exhibition teams already have a significant reputation with national partners such as IWM, RAFM and NLHF and our Patrons include the Lord Lieutenant of Essex Jenny Tolhurst, Lord Petre, popular Historian Dan Snow and academic and historian Dr Saul David.  

We are a COVID-Secure (Visit England Good To Go) site that welcome families, individual enthusiasts or those with a passing interest. Dogs are welcome on a lead and our café can’t wait to grab you a slice of cake! Remember – admission to the shop and the Café – both housed in original buildings – is free!

If you would like to become part of this amazing story - pop in!

Guide Prices

Propeller Club Members - FREE

Use of Cafe and Shop (WITHOUT access to any Hangars, exhibition galleries or other parts of the site) - FREE

Adult ( 16yrs) - £11

Concession/ NUS/ Young Person (65 / 6-15yrs ) - £8

Infant (0-5yrs) - FREE

Group Ticket (2 x Adult 2 x Young Person) - £34

Carers (one adult accompanying a reliant fee-paying disabled visitor) - FREE

English Heritage Members: 2-for-1 on regular adult tickets on non-event days only (Both adults must be members)

Currently serving members of His Majesty's Armed Forces, and one guest, will receive free entry, on non-event days, upon production of an ID card.

Facilities

Accessibility

  • Disabled access
  • Disabled toilets

Booking & Payment Details

  • Credit cards accepted (no fee)

Catering

  • On-site light refreshments

Children

  • Baby changing facilities
  • Children welcome

Group Travel

  • Out of Hours Visits

Groups

  • Facilities for educational visits
  • Guided tours for groups

Meeting, Conference & Wedding Facilities

  • Facilities for conferencing
  • Facilities for corporate hospitality

Parking

  • Free Parking

Property Facilities

  • Dogs Accepted
  • Gift shop
  • Guided tours for individuals
  • Public toilets
  • Smoking not allowed

Site Features

  • English Heritage Property

Target Markets

  • Accepts groups
  • Coach parties accepted

Map & Directions

Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome

Type:Museum - Transport

Hackman's Lane, Purleigh, Essex, CM3 6RN

Tel: 01245 329358

Opening Times

General Admission (17 Feb 2024 - 1 Dec 2024)
DayTimes
Monday - ThursdayClosed
Friday - Sunday10:00 - 15:00

* Free parking.

Admission to the Airmen's Mess Cafe and Shop only - free of charge.

Dogs on leads permitted in outdoor areas.

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