Aerial photo of Hylands House on Open Day

Restless Brilliance, Sunday 16 June

Hylands Estate, London Road, Writtle Chelmsford, CM2 8WQ

Join us for a special day of author events under the banner of Restless Brilliance. Linking up with the J.A. Baker exhibition of the same name (Chelmsford Museum: 23 March to 3 November) we will be focussing on all things nature and ornithology.

Coinciding with Hylands Estate Open Day with Urban Food Festival, live music at the Stables Visitor Centre, artist studios to explore, lawn games and book-themed arts and crafts, it’s the perfect way to spend Father’s Day.

11.30am Mark Cocker, One Midsummer’s Day

Photo of Mark Cocker and image of One Midsummer's Day book cover

Join Mark Cocker, one of our greatest nature writers, as he discusses his most ambitious and wide-ranging book to date. Drawing deeply on science, history, literature and a lifetime of close observation, One Midsummer’s Day: Swifts and The Story of Life on Earth, is a dazzling celebration of the natural world and how we are all inextricably connected.

Click here for more information and to book tickets

1.30pm Restless Brilliance: Singing Like Larks with Andrew Millham and David Simmonds

Photo of Andrew Millham with both book covers

Join local nature and folk history writer, Andrew Millham, for a joyous celebration of song, the seasons, and our love of birds. Andrew will be in conversation with David Simmonds and they will be discussing Andrew’s book, Singing Like Larks, and also the legacy of J.A. Baker’s The Peregrine and what it means to Essex.

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Cancelled: 1.30pm Helen Pilcher, How Nature Keeps Time – Sorry for any inconvenience caused.

3.00pm Joanna Glen, Maybe, Perhaps, Possibly

Photo of Joanna Glen. Image of Maybe Perhaps, Possibly book cover.

Joanna Glen, author of the Costa Prize shortlisted debut, The Other Half of Augusta Hope, explores her latest novel. Two introverts with turbulent pasts and wary hearts take individual comfort in swimming in the ocean, birdwatching, books and the sounds of the sea. Sol and Addie are both drawn to nature far more than to people – until they catch sight of one another in the wild. Maybe, Perhaps, Possibly is a beautifully observed and life-affirming story about finding yourself, and then allowing someone else to find you.

Click here for more information and to book tickets

Hylands Estate Open Day

Hylands Open Estate Days happen every third Sunday of the month from 10am to 3pm.

Hylands Estate is fully open for you to explore and enjoy at your leisure. Discover more about the history of Hylands House at the monthly exhibition in the library and guided morning tour.

Urban Food Fest will be there with delicious street food available just outside the house. There will also be handmade gifts and freshly baked goods for sale from local traders.

The Stables courtyard and artist studios are open for you to browse, with its vibrant community of artists, designers and makers.

Find out more at

Restless Brilliance: The Story of J.A. Baker and The Peregrine

An exhibition at Chelmsford Museum, 23 March to 3 November 2024

The Peregrine by J.A. Baker was first published in 1967. The book was an immediate success. Reviews called it a masterpiece of nature writing and it won several awards. Since then, Baker’s unique poetic writing has continued to inspire a new generation of nature writers and naturalists, and The Peregrine was recently voted one of the UK’s top 10 favourite nature books. But despite all this success, very little was known about Baker himself.

JA Baker photo

John Alec Baker (1926–1987) was born, and lived almost his whole life, in Chelmsford. His writing is based on walks and cycle rides around the Blackwater estuary, Danbury Hill and the Chelmsford area. Here he followed and studied peregrine falcons, condensing all his observations into the book The Peregrine.

“For ten years I spent all my winters searching for that restless brilliance, for the sudden passion and violence that peregrines flush from the sky.”

The exhibition explores J.A. Baker’s life, his love of nature and writing, through the archive of his work held by the Albert Sloman Library, University of Essex. It is the first time that this archive has been on public display. For more information on the exhibition and related events programme, please visit the website

Venue: Chelmsford Museum, Oaklands Park, Moulsham Street, Chelmsford CM2 9AQ
Tickets: Free, no booking required

A Walk in J.A. Baker Country

Monday 17 June, 2.00-4.00pm

Join us for a walk through ‘Baker Country’ visiting sites listed in J.A. Baker’s diaries and identified in his seminal work The Peregrine (1967).

Starting in Little Baddow, this approx. 7 km/ 4.5 mile walk will guide you along country lanes and – possibly muddy – fields taking in the Essex landscapes that Baker describes as being ‘as profuse and glorious as Africa’.

Please wear comfortable footwear and clothing appropriate for the weather.

Led by David Simmonds, organised by Chelmsford Museum as part of the exhibition Restless Brilliance: The story of J.A. Baker and The Peregrine, on until 3 November 2024.
Visit David’s website about J.A. Baker at

Meeting point: Little Baddow History Centre, Chapel Lane, Little Baddow, Chelmsford, CM3 4BE
Tickets: Free, booking essential

Box Office:

A Walk in JA Baker country
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