Based in Chillington Manor – an Elizabethan mansion on St Faith’s Street, Maidstone Museum holds in excess of 15,000 specimens or artefacts which come within the field of social history, and particularly strong domestic themes include housing, heating and lighting, cleaning and maintenance, food and drink, toys and games, textile crafts, music, broadcast and pre-recorded entertainment, writing equipment, and smoking. The museum also holds a fairly large collection of material of major local importance, documenting the everyday life of the borough, local events, and celebrities. Collections relating to local industries include brewing and hop picking (Fremlin, Style & Winch, Mason & Co); papermaking (Whatman); confectionary and food production (Sharps & Foster Clark); engineering (Tilling-Stevens); and agricultural equipment (Weeks).
The museum houses a major collection of printed ephemera, maps, and books (circa 12,000 specimens) relating to Maidstone. The collection ranges from the 18th century to the present day, but the most comprehensive coverage is for the second half of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th. The photographic collections of over 6,000 items covering historic Kent consist of glass plate negatives, photographic prints, magic lanterns and slides, cameras, and accessories and equipment, together with a small quantity of amateur cine equipment.